UK invests £12 million in manufacturing IT innovation

The UK's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced £12 million in new funding for six research projects looking at IT innovation in manufacturing.

"Advanced manufacturing is highly knowledge-intensive and ICT has a huge role to play in improving manufacturing intelligence, supporting collaboration, increasing efficiency, speeding up innovation and enabling new business models and technologies," said Mark Claydon–Smith, who leads the Manufacturing the Future programme at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "These six projects demonstrate the collaborative nature of manufacturing research with nine universities and over 70 manufacturing partners working together.”

The six IT-related projects are as follows:

  • Cloud manufacturing (£2.4 million) – led by the University of Nottingham, this project will apply the principles of cloud computing to allow manufacturers to share design and process resources. Read more.
  • Decision support for chemicals manufacturing (£2.5 million) – a collaboration between the University of Strathclyde and Loughborough University, this project will develop software for analysing data from sensors used in the chemicals manufacturing process. The aim is to allow certain chemicals to be produced using continuous, rather than discrete, processes. Read more.
  • Crowdsourced food and packaging design (£1.8) – this Notthingham and Brunel University project will develop IT tools that allow manufacturers to include customers in their product design and development processes. Read more.
  • Simulating services in 3D (£1.5 million) – this Aston, Sheffield and Coventry University project aims to aid manufacturers as they move from product-centric to services-based business models by 3D developing virtual world in which those services can be simulated. Read more.
  • Complex project analysis (£1.9 million) – the University of Bath project aims to improve complex, collaborative engineering projects by analysing the way the parties work together through email, computer-aided design (CAD) etc. Read more.
  • Improved information systems (£1.9) – Led by Loughborough University, this project aims to improve the availability of information throughout the manufacturing supply chain by developing "intelligent software services". Read more.

The funding is part of a £45 million investment in manufacturing research and development announced today by science and universities minister David Willetts. Besides the six IT-related projects, the funding will go towards six projects looking at innovative manufacturing equipment and four new R&D centres across the country.

"The UK has a proud history of manufacturing but to build on this success industry needs access to the very latest science and technology." Willetts said. "This?45 million package of investment will see our world-class research base investigating innovative new manufacturing equipment and techniques.

"This will support our industrial strategy in a range of important sectors, driving growth and keeping the UK ahead in the global race.”

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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