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Industry Talk

Funding for UK smart factory projects

Supporting the development of digital innovations to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes.

9th November 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  United Kingdom

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

The Made Smarter Innovation programme, delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has launched a new collaborative research and development competition focusing on sustainable smart factories. The funding call presents a huge opportunity to launch a wide range of projects.

Consortiums of UK-registered businesses and organisations can apply for a share of up to £20 million for digital innovation projects that will reduce the carbon emissions of manufacturing processes in factories. The aim of the competition is to support the development of digital innovations to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes, resulting in either reduced material or reduced energy consumption.

Applications are encouraged from consortiums comprising a mix of manufacturing and technology development capabilities working together on developments or applications of digital technologies. Projects can range from £1-8 million, can run for up to two years, and can tackle themes ranging from reducing in-process material losses to better sequencing manufacturing operations and  to reducing energy consumption.

“Pushing the boundaries of how we can better acquire and utilise data, together with novel applications for other digital capabilities within manufacturing processes, will unlock new ways to drive down energy consumption or optimise how much material the overall production process consumes,” said Chris Needham, innovation lead for Made Smarter Innovation UKRI. “UK organisations working together to inspire these digital breakthroughs can cumulatively make a real difference in reducing the draw on the world’s resources.”

A new ESRC Network Plus has also launched to bring an economic and social science dimension to the Made Smarter Innovation programme. The new network, led by co-directors Professor Jan Godsell of Loughborough University and Professor Jill MacBryde, the University of Strathclyde, will look at the social and economic factors that will be hugely influential in achieving a more productive and competitive to help reach net zero.

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