Manufacturing Made Smarter to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing

Posted on: 02/08/2019

Up to £30m available to fund digital technologies that will transform UK manufacturing.

UK manufacturers wanting to adopt the latest digital technologies to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing can bid for a new ¬£30 million R&D competition from the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) programme.

The R&D competition is part of the wider Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge to support the transformation of UK manufacturing by encouraging the development and integration of industrial digital technologies.  It will fund projects that will help transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing, ready for a fast start and with the potential for rapid impact.

Projects must be business led and collaborative, with all consortia involving at least one SME with the objective to achieve rapid technology development and deployment. All projects must be ready to start on or before 1 December 2019, with a defined consortium agreement, agreed industry match funding and a project plan, with total eligible costs between £250,000 and £10 million. Projects can be of 6 months to 2 years duration.

Projects can be led by any industry sector but must show they are applicable in at least 2 other sectors. Larger projects should include partners from these sectors:

  • aerospace
  • automotive
  • chemicals
  • defence
  • digital
  • equipment and instrumentation
  • food and drink
  • pharma
  • oil and gas
  • space

Projects must focus on at least one of the 4 innovation themes from:

  1. Smart connected factory, including:
    use of real-time data to optimise operational efficiency
    capture, analysis and visualisation of manufacturing processes
  2. Connected and versatile supply chain, including:
    information integration, communication, traceability and trust
  3. Design, make, test, including:
    transforming product design through digital technologies
    virtual product testing, verification and validation, quality monitoring and inspection
  4. Adaptable, flexible manufacturing operations and skills, including:
    culture change and skills development to fully utilise technologies
    human-centric automation and autonomy to enable expandable, flexible manufacturing systems.

Further details about the themes can be found here.

In your application you should outline how the project enables innovation and deployment of more than one IDT (industrial digital technology) within manufacturing.


The competition is now open and will close on 28 August at 12 noon.

Competition details

Find out more about the scope of the competition, eligibility and the application process here.

If you missed the webcast you can view the recording here.

We recommend you read our guide to putting together a good application

Find out about other Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund opportunities applicable to manufacturers here.

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