Manufacturing the future (MtF)
The vision for EPSRC’s MtF theme is one of a prosperous and productive UK, supported by a thriving research and knowledge-led manufacturing base. To enable this, our mission is to create and capture the benefits of basic research for UK manufacturing industries.
This opportunity seeks to support that aim by contributing to the delivery of MtF digital manufacturing priority.
Grants are expected to be:
- in line with the size of usual standard research grants
- within 10% variance of the total funding request indicated at the outline stage.
The scope of this opportunity has been developed in collaboration with members of the manufacturing research and innovation community. The topic of ‘digital technology for manufacturing’ emerged as a research priority during the manufacturing futures retreat and community engagement activities (PDF, 12.5MB). This priority was reaffirmed in a 2019 manufacturing the future research priorities workshop.
We are looking to support the novel research needed to enable accurate simulation of products and processes through their lifecycle.
In particular, this research will seek to understand how to model complex materials and systems; the perturbations, transformations (or both) that they undergo through manufacturing processes.
The research will also seek to understand how these insights can be used to:
- reduce the need for physical prototypes
- reduce the risk and time to market associated with launching new products
- improve the accuracy of requirements capture and design specification processes
- reduce discard rate and improve product quality control
- enable new product architectures
- reduce certification time and inspection costs.
You must clearly show how the proposed research constitutes manufacturing research, and how it addresses at least one of these key digital manufacturing research challenges:
- interoperability of analogue and digital process or legacy systems to support digitalisation
- design space exploration, design-support systems
- data challenges influencing modelling capability
- data integrity and risk management in manufacturing systems
- data analytics and visualisation
- human-simulation interaction, people in the loop
- real time simulation and optimisation
- tools to support the verification of models, metrology in manufacturing
- virtual testing, to facilitate non-destructive testing or moving testing online
- building security, privacy, risk and trust into the manufacturing process and supply chains.
Not all research that can address one (or more) of the above points would constitute manufacturing research. Proposals must demonstrably lie within the remit (minimum 50%) of EPSRC MtF theme.
To fit within this remit, proposals must focus on the fundamental engineering and physical sciences research into manufacturing technologies, the manufacturing process, or the manufacturing process’ design and operation.
Any proposals that EPSRC deems outside the remit of MtF theme, or the scope of this opportunity, may be rejected without reference to peer review.
You are encouraged to consider industrial engagement. This might include developing plans to engage with a range of relevant manufacturing companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises, throughout the project.
The MtF theme recognises the importance of considering the sustainability of manufacturing research across the breadth of the manufacturing portfolio. Therefore at this full proposal stage (stage two), invited applicants are required to provide a manufacturing sustainability statement. This requirement is to ensure you have considered the wider implications of the research being conducted, prior to applying.
This statement will not form a part of the assessment of your proposal. It is important to understand that your proposal is not expected to be focused on researching sustainability in and of itself.
Your manufacturing sustainability statement should demonstrate and address:
- considerations made to the wider environmental sustainability of your approach. For example, where appropriate, have any life cycle assessments been conducted? Is the research method energy and waste efficient?
- if the research has the potential for positive improvements in environmental sustainability for the manufacturing sector
- if, and how, the research may contribute to national and global sustainability priorities (for example, the net zero commitment, the Paris Agreement, the industrial decarbonisation strategy and other relevant targets)
- how you will ensure the research does not have unnecessary negative environmental impacts
- if potential negative environmental impacts are identified, what is being done to minimise and mitigate against these?
You are required to provide this statement at this full proposal stage.
EPSRC will provide up to £7 million to fund a number of projects:
- at 80% of full economic cost
- up to 36 months in duration.
The grant amount you request in your full proposal must be within 10% of the total amount indicated at the outline stage.
Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this funding opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be listed under the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading in your application.
Find out more about EPSRC approach to equipment funding.
You are expected to work within EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.
Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.