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UKRI and Made Smarter has 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.

£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 and Catapults. Breakthrough technology development will be delivered through large scale test beds i.e. 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, make up of cluster of test beds, living labs and other developmental environments.

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

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.

Chris Courtney, Made Smarter Innovation Challenge Director
More on the competition
  • 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
  • What's next?

    The competition closed to entrants in late 2020. The next round of collaborative research & development, focusing on Sustainable Smart Factories will be open to application in late 2021. Watch this space for more information about the next round coming soon.

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