UKRI and Made Smarter Funding awarded to boost UK manufacturing supply chains

Posted on: 27/07/2021

UKRI has invested £50 million in funding in smart manufacturing and connected supply chains: this will fund a Digital Supply Chain Innovation Hub, 37 successful projects in the Digital Supply Chain competition, and 5 new university led research centres.

£10 million investment in the new Made Smarter Digital Supply Chain Innovation Hub

Delivered by Digital Catapult in collaboration with large and small businesses, as well as universities, research technology organisations and Catapults, the Digital Supply Chain Innovation Hub will focus on breakthrough technology development delivered through large scale test beds i.e. flagship projects and open calls will seek to encourage the development of an inclusive national network of test beds.

The hub is designed to drive innovation for all potential users, including large and small technologies providers and manufacturers. It will also form part of a national network, make up of cluster of test beds, living labs and other developmental environments.

Chris Courtney, Made Smarter Innovation Challenge Director said:

“Digital technologies have the power to radically transform how we manufacture and deliver the products and services of today and the future delivering a productive, sustainable and flexible manufacturing sector and enhancing the future of work within it. There are enormous opportunities to innovate in this area, we have world leading industries, a powerful scientific and research community and a vibrant technology sector. It is vital we form a vibrant connected ecosystem from applied research to industrialisation in order to fully capitalise on that potential.

We have seen tremendous demand for this area across all sectors, company sizes and locations, and real evidence of the vibrant community of innovators in the areas of digital manufacturing and supply chains. I’m excited to see how this powerful coalition transforms the future of manufacturing and supply chains.”

The Manufacturer Podcast explores the future of supply chains and how digital technology innovation can help. Creating supply chains that really work is a massive challenge for manufacturers.  Building future proof supply chains that enable innovation across their digital manufacturing processes is even more difficult. We hear from some leading experts in the supply chain industry together with UKRI and KTN who are leading on the innovation strand of the Made Smarter programme to explore the themes of data, insight, action and trust as the core enablers of supply chain innovation.   Listen to the podcast here.

Digital Supply Chain Competition Winners

A further £18 million is being awarded across 37 successful projects through Digital Supply Chain competition, which forms part of UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Made Smarter Innovation challenge.

In this competition, applicants were asked to develop a supply chain integration or optimisation idea and carry out a project to test the concept. Two strands of the competition looked into industrial research and feasibility studies.

The winning projects are based across the UK, and include:

  • SupplyVue’s digital platform, CarbonVue which will provide visibility of carbon in the whole supply chain and provide a framework to foster greater collaboration in order to reduce carbon emissions.
  • GSK Limited are leading on the SmartPSC project where the application of digital technologies will be applied to integrate pharma manufacturing supply chain and enhance efficiency, productivity, flexibility, resilience and sustainability.
  • Food for Thought (Global) Limited will develop an interoperable platform which integrates with existing systems to capture information across the food supply chain in real time.

The funding will also cover areas such as:

  • Traceability of food and plastics manufacturing in within the supply chain
  • Increased transparency using digital technologies
  • Enhanced scheduling and manufacturing of advanced therapies

A full list of the Digital Supply Chain Winners can be found here.

Research Centres

5 University led research centres will receive a share of £25 million to help the UK’s manufacturing industry become more productive and competitive through innovation and adoption of digital technologies. As well as being at the forefront and driving developments in their areas of expertise, these research centres will connect across the challenge to help bridge the gap between basic research and its application in manufacturing to provide a pipeline of digital technologies for the future.

  • Made Smarter Innovation Research Centre for Connected Factories led by University of Nottingham, aims to deliver a platform for next generation resilient connected manufacturing services. It will allow future manufacturing operations to be delivered by universal production units that can be easily repurposed, relocated and redeployed in response to changing market demand.
  • Made Smarter Innovation Digital Medicines Manufacturing Research Centre led by University of Strathclyde, will accelerate the adoption of IDTs in the pharma sector to transform medicines development and manufacturing productivity and drive patient-centric supply.
  • Made Smarter Innovation Materials Made Smarter Research Centre led by University of Sheffield, will focus on the digitisation of the materials sector, to drive productivity improvements in materials intensive industries, realise new business models and change the way we value and use materials.
  • Made Smarter Innovation People-Led Digitalisation Centre led by University of Bath, will create a step-by-step cross-sectorial process for manufacturers to map their current digitalisation position and from the findings plan their future state map to realise the potential of digitalisation.
  • Made Smarter Innovation Research Centre for Smart, Collaborative Industrial Robotics led by University of Loughborough, aims to advance smart manufacturing by eliminating barriers and accelerating widespread use of smart collaborative robotics technology to unlock the full potential of the UK industry in productivity, quality, and adaptability.

This investment was announced as part of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Innovation Strategy.

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About Made Smarter Innovation

Made Smarter Innovation is a national programme to help businesses who make things capitalize on new digital technologies. Our programme will support the transformation of UK’s manufacturing capabilities through the development and innovation of industrial digital technologies (IDTs). We give UK manufacturers access to a digital innovation ecosystem that helps prove their idea, quickly develop it with experts and scale it. The £300 million partnership between government and industry will provide match-funding, specialist advice and result in radical manufacturing solutions. Delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

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