I am always pleasantly amazed at the sheer depth and variety of projects that Innovate UK supports, and most importantly the impact they are generating on the economy and their sectors.
This struck me again recently when I read our case study publication, Innovation with impact, a fantastic collection of 50 companies across the country that we have helped. In just my sector alone – manufacturing and materials – there are a rich variety of excellent stories. Some firms have grown dramatically, or entered new markets. Some have attracted major new investment or floated their business.
They are just some of the 7,600 innovative companies Innovate UK has helped since 2007 to bring new ideas, products and services closer to market.
Simplifying our funding options
This year our approach will evolve to provide, in each sector group, a single innovation funding stream with competitions which are much broader in scope than we have previously organised.
1. Manufacturing & materials competition round 1
I am pleased to say that the first competition of this type is in my sector, manufacturing and materials. Our £15 million competition is currently open aimed at increasing UK SME supply chain competitiveness and growth. The response to this competition has been exceptional with over 400 companies registering for an application pack. The competition will close to registrations at noon on the 6th July and close for applications a week later at noon on 13th July.
We will fund innovative projects that address cross-cutting challenges covering one of the following areas:
- Innovation in a manufacturing system, technology, process or business model – for example in process engineering, industrial biotechnology, mechanical conversion processes, coatings, textiles, supply chain management, new product introduction processes, remanufacture
- Innovation in materials development, properties, integration or reuse – for example for light-weighting, energy generation and storage, electronics/sensors, or for operation in demanding environments.
I’d urge interested businesses to find out more.
2. Additive manufacturing competition
For those interested in additive manufacturing, we also have a £4.5 million competition currently open in collaborative industrial research projects that stimulate innovation in this area.
Registrations to this competition will close at noon on 20th July and applications must be in by noon 27th July.
The aim of this competition is to help companies overcome barriers to business growth in additive manufacturing. It will also encourage them to explore and develop their wider digital manufacturing capability.
Other significant funding opportunities will follow through the year - in total through 2016/17 our support for the Manufacturing and Materials sector will be £137 million.
3. High Value Manufacturing Catapult & other partners
This includes our continued support for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult when we plan to enhance funding for its important work.
We will also be a key delivery partner - the government is heavily supporting automotive and aerospace research, development and technology through the following programmes:
- Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV)
- Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC)
- Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI)
- Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV)
Three priority activities
Overall our sector will have three clear priority activities.
- Firstly, to stimulate digital technologies for manufacturing and materials that look at smarter, new ways to increase manufacturing productivity, systems flexibility and resource efficiency
- Secondly, we will focus on manufacturing readiness at scale
- Thirdly, early stage manufacturing and materials concepts that encourage companies to broaden out their innovation activities and try out new, high-impact ideas that could lead to new revenue lines or processes.
Myself and colleagues in the manufacturing and materials sector group look forward to working with you – to continue making an impact through innovation.
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