The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) invests in manufacturing research, drawing on emerging opportunities from across the engineering, physical, biological and mathematical sciences. It connects the research, innovation and business landscape.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is pioneering a prosperous future for the UK by supporting the creation of new industries and jobs through innovative manufacturing businesses. Pioneering research led by EPSRC is crucial to the UK’s prosperity, helping ensure the economy is ready for future challenges and change.
Our research covers underpinning science, simulation and design, production, fabrication, systems and services. It is helping drive the innovation in high-value manufacturing necessary for competitive aerospace, pharmaceutical and healthcare engineering sectors.
We are unique in supporting basic manufacturing research through to the stage where applications can be developed by companies or agencies such as Innovate UK and the Catapult Network.
Manufacturing the future strategy
The UK enjoys world leadership in established manufacturing industries such as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, electronics design and photonic technologies.
EPSRC plays a pivotal role in supporting these industries, enabling cutting-edge research and development of highly skilled people needed to support UK manufacturing innovation and underpin continued and sustainable growth.
The underpinning science and technology made possible by EPSRC support covers the entire manufacturing spectrum, to lead to successful processes and products including:
Independent evaluations have shown the value of EPSRC manufacturing research to the UK economy and society more generally.
The challenge for the manufacturing the future theme is to promote a richer, more productive dialogue between world-leading manufacturing research and industry partners, and to ensure innovative manufacturing businesses play a significant role in shaping the research and taking forward the outputs and outcomes.
Our aim is to create and capture the benefits of research for UK manufacturing industries, thereby supporting UK productivity and prosperity.
We will do this by:
- investing in new growth areas, drawing on opportunities from emergent research across the engineering and physical sciences
- accelerating the impact of our investments by connecting the research and innovation landscape, promoting collaboration between academia and innovative manufacturing businesses
- fostering a research community with the appropriate skills and leadership in manufacturing research.
We are seeking a balanced portfolio of long-term, speculative research, as well as research where the benefits and manufacturing outcomes are clearly evident. Within this, we have developed four research visions that will deliver a productive, innovative, competitive manufacturing research portfolio.
The strategy for the EPSRC manufacturing the future theme has been developed by working closely with other EPSRC research themes, academics, industry and the Manufacturing the Future Strategic Advisory Team.
During 2018, we developed six priorities that describe how we see advances in engineering and physical sciences contributing to a productive, innovative, and competitive manufacturing sector in the UK.
- responsive manufacturing
- digital manufacturing
- sustainability and function
- precision made and scalable at cost
- whole systems analysis
- advanced bio and chemical products manufacture.
Key engagement activities
We regularly engage with the Manufacturing the Future Strategic Advisory Team. The research visions evolved from the theme’s previous research challenges and were developed in collaboration with the Manufacturing the Future Strategic Advisory Team as well as through engagement with the research community, users and other funders.
The following activities and events occurred in late 2020 and 2021 to provide engagement opportunities with a variety of stakeholders:
- EPSRC manufacturing community engagement activities conducted online
- working with other EPSRC themes, notably the research infrastructure, circular economy and digital economy themes when developing funding opportunities targeting this theme’s priorities.
Early career forum in manufacturing research
In May 2012, EPSRC launched a call for expressions of interest for membership of a newly-constituted forum of early career academic researchers in the scope of the manufacturing the future challenge theme. The forum has been active ever since with refreshes occurring every few years.
Forum members have a strong focus on advancing the UK’s international reputation in manufacturing research, are open to developing interdisciplinary research agendas, and have an interest in participating in research policy development.
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