Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Manufacturing technologies

This research area focuses on key enabling technologies that will allow manufacturing processes, products and systems to function with high efficiency and reliability, and appropriate precision and flexibility.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This research area focuses on key enabling technologies that will allow manufacturing processes, products and systems to function with high efficiency, reliability and repeatability, and appropriate precision and flexibility. It builds on a wide range of other fields of science and engineering (including other research council remits), allowing development of:

  • novel or improved manufacturing processes and machines (for example, metrology, control)
  • novel or improved products (for example, advanced materials)
  • novel or improved systems (for example information and communication technologies (ICT) and energy).

This research area is vital to supporting UK prosperity and productivity across a broad range of industry sectors. In view of this, we have provided significant support for the area, particularly via investment in critical mass activities (such as Future Manufacturing Research Hubs) and support for research leaders.

We will invest in research addressing the most important challenges for UK manufacturing. For example:

  • the manufacture of new, emerging products
  • digital manufacturing
  • sustainable industries and the circular economy
  • local or bespoke manufacturing.

We have several aims set out below.

Increase the proportion of research led by investigators within the area

We will work with the manufacturing community to identify  challenges inspired by industry and will support the multidisciplinary interfaces (particularly with biological sciences and ICT) that are essential to meeting the skills and technology needs of the factories of the future.

We will ensure that breakthroughs in basic research fro m across science and engineering are supported to deliver a pathway to manufacture.

Attract and retain talent throughout the career pipeline

We will have a particular focus on identifying and developing future leaders. We will work with the manufacturing community to attract the best potential researchers from a diverse population into Manufacturing Technologies research. In addition, we will continue to encourage mobility between industry and academia.

Encourage engagement with industry

Enable researchers to support the pathway to scale-up and manufacture by facilitating and encouraging engagement with industry and Catapults.

Build on existing infrastructure and facilities

Capitalise on the UK’s existing infrastructure and facilities that support manufacturing research, especially by encouraging the sharing of facilities.

Why we're doing it

In developing this strategy, we have taken account of the role of EPSRC support in the wider research and innovation landscape. UK research in manufacturing technologies is of high quality and, in some cases, world leading. EPSRC investment is complemented by support for pathways to manufacture, especially Innovate UK initiatives and the Catapult centres.

Manufacturing is recognised as critical to rebalancing the UK economy, contributing 10% of UK Gross Value Added in 2013 and directly employing over 2.6 million people.

Manufacturing Technologies research could enable the UK to take the lead in global markets through innovative, high value products and production processes. There is a need for continued innovation in manufacturing and the research base is crucial for underpinning and enabling the most transformative and disruptive innovations.

Industrial challenges and emerging industries

Manufacturing technologies are key to achieving a range of industrial sector strategies, for example aerospace and automotive. Emerging industries such as quantum technologies will need associated manufacturing technologies to enable commercial application. Research supported by EPSRC is closely aligned to industrial challenges, with projects achieving significant leverage, particularly from the aerospace, automotive, medical and pharma, and consumer goods sectors, as well as the manufacturing machinery and material supply chain.

Supporting leaders

Research leaders in this area take an active role in strategy and policy development, in addition to having experience of working in industry, for example the 18 EPSRC Manufacturing Fellows. The challenge remains to attract and retain a diverse range of future leaders in academia, particularly as research training and skills are highly valued by industry.

Facilities

Capability is spread across the UK and we have invested heavily in getting to critical mass through the Centres for Innovative Manufacturing and Future Manufacturing Hubs.

Materials processing equipment was funded through a number of initiatives and other investments, including the Sir Henry Royce Institute and the Catapult centres, that have boosted the availability of infrastructure.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Manufacturing Technologies.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Nishtha Agarwal, Portfolio Manager

Email: nishtha.agarwal@epsrc.ukri.org

Telephone: 07511403767

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