Funding awarded to boost UK manufacturing supply chains

Robot arm and communication network concept. Industrial technology. INDUSTRY4.0

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Made Smarter have invested £50 million in funding in smart manufacturing and connected supply chains.

As part of the £300 million partnership between government, industry, catapults and academia, the total investment will result in over £100 million for game changing solutions in manufacturing.

Innovation hub

£10 million in funding has been awarded to a new Made Smarter Innovation Digital Supply Chain Innovation Hub.

It will be delivered by Digital Catapult collaborating with large and small businesses, as well as:

  • universities
  • research technology organisations
  • catapults.

Breakthrough technology development will be delivered through large scale test beds. For example, flagship projects and open calls will seek to encourage the development of an inclusive national network of test beds.

The hub will create an effective and integrated innovation ecosystem to develop new solutions to transform UK manufacturing.

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, made up of cluster of test beds, living labs and other developmental environments.

Collaborative research and development

A further £18 million of funding is being awarded across 37 successful projects through the 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.

The competition closed to entrants in late 2020. The next round of collaborative research and development, focusing on sustainable smart factories will be open to application in late 2021. For updates on opportunities, sign up to Made Smarter Innovation Network newsletter to keep up to date on upcoming funding opportunities.

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Research centres

Five 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. This will provide a pipeline of digital technologies for the future.

Made Smarter Innovation Research Centre for Connected Factories

Led by University of Nottingham, the centre 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, it 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, it will focus on the digitisation of the materials, to:

  • drive productivity improvements in materials intensive industries
  • realise new business models
  • change the way we value and use materials.

Made Smarter Innovation People-Led Digitalisation

Led by University of Bath, this centre 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, the centre 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.

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.

Further information

Full list of ‘Digital Supply Chain winners’.

Industrial research

  • smart integrated digital supply chain for MMC House manufacturing (SIDsHouse) – Project Etopia UK Limited (London)
  • SCORE: supply chain optimisation for demand response efficiency – Alford FE Limited (Scotland)
  • SmartPSC (smart pharma supply chain) – GSK Limited (East of England)
  • SecQual – secure quality assured logistics for digital food ecosystems – Lloyd’s Register Group Limited (London)
  • UK fashion and textiles: data-driven platform, enabling manufacturing supply chain real-time decision-making, effective track and trace and sustainability – UK Fashion and Textile Association Ltd (London)
  • empowering the NHS advanced therapies ordering prototype IT system with manufacturing insight from an electronic batch manufacturing system – Autolomous Ltd (London)
  • INtelligent TrustEd SuppLy ChaIn (INTELI) – Bae systems (operations) limited (North West)
  • a digitally connected food supply chain to deliver transparency, sustainability and efficiency – Foods Connected Ltd (Northern Ireland)
  • TRUSTED BYTES: trusted, decentralised, digital supply chains for the food industry – Produce Logistics (UK) Limited (East Midlands)
  • CarbonVue – integrated carbon and productivity end-to-end supply chain management – SupplyVue Limited (London).

Feasibility studies

  • SPACE – supplier planning and capacity estimation – Autonomous Manufacturing Ltd (London)
  • data-driven luminaire remanufacture supply chain – Treegreen Limited (Scotland)
  • MBQP – model-based process design and quality planning – Perpetual Labs Ltd (London)
  • environmental transparency and traceability platform (ETTP) – Proarch IT Solutions Limited (London)
  • quality and freshness assurance for dynamic pricing in the seafood supply chain – Safetyspect UK Limited (London)
  • enabling resilient supply chains with AI-driven data sharing, forecasting and collaboration – Attentiv Ltd (London)
  • goods-as-a-service – feasibility with pallets – Miralis Data Limited (North West)
  • REMP – remanufacturing e-marketplace for a circular digital supply chain – Intelivita Limited (Yorkshire and The Humber)
  • automated manufacturing cost estimator and supply chain management portal – I4 Product Design Limited (Scotland)
  • a new approach to manufacturing supply chain risk management – Crossword Cybersecurity PLC (London)
  • digital spare parts supply chain: An integrated solution of spare parts inventory management and predictive maintenance – NBT Group Limited (North East)
  • ARGUS – Procter and Gamble technical Centres Limited (South East)
  • composite service orchestration platform (COMPAS) – Enterprises Limited (North West)
  • SORT-IT: increase plastic food and drink packaging recycling rates for extended producer responsibility (EPR) and deposit return schemes (DRS) – Pragmatic Printing Limited (East of England)
  • delivering digital ingredient transparency for personal care sector – Croda Europe Limited (Yorkshire and The Humber)
  • digital supply chain adoption curve (DSCAC) – Authentise (London)
  • a crowd sourced anti-counterfeiting imaging AI platform (ACACIA) – Intogral Limited (North East)
  • smart logistics network cost optimisation – Inception Consulting Limited (south-east)
  • a revolutionary workflow tool automating the fashion industry and reducing overproduction and errors that cause unsustainability – Supplycompass Ltd (London)
  • Rebar 4.0: supply chain made smarter – UK Certification Authority for Reinforcing Steels (south-east)
  • diverse supply chain programme (DiSC) – Simply Do Ideas Limited (Wales)
  • digital innovations for niche sector industry supply chain optimisation (DINS) – Westfield Sports Cars Limited (West Midlands)
  • coldchain 4.0 feasibility study – Food for Thought (Global) Limited (Northern Ireland)
  • a blockchain-enabled digital twin for leather traceability: from farm to vehicle – Jaguar Land Rover Limited (west midlands)
  • waste insights – a downstream supply chain revolution – Topolytics Ltd (Scotland)
  • blockchain traceability for HTRPs recycling value chain – Circulor Ltd (London)
  • to me, to you: improving supply chain communications with digital technologies – Elements Technology Platforms Limited (Yorkshire and the Humber).

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