Drives and Controls Magazine
£20m smart factory r&d competition targets sustainability
Published:  02 November, 2021

The Made Smarter Innovation programme has launched a collaborative research and development competition with a focus on sustainable smart factories. Consortia of UK-registered business and organisations will be able to apply for a share of up to £20m for digital innovation projects designed to reduce the carbon emissions of manufacturing processes.

The aim of the competition is to support the development of digital innovations to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes, resulting in lower material or energy consumption.

The Made Smarter programme, which is delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is seeking applications from consortia with a mix of manufacturing and technology development capabilities that are working on innovative developments or novel applications of digital technologies. The projects can range in value from £1m–8m, can run for up to two years, and can tackle themes ranging from reducing in-process material losses, to better sequencing of manufacturing operations to cut energy consumption.

The funding call is split into two strands – digital innovation with manufacturing data and in manufacturing processes – with a common aim: accelerating digital innovation to cut CO2 emissions from the manufacturing sector.

• The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has launched a network to bring an economic and social science dimension to the Made Smarter Innovation programme. The 38-month £4m ESRC Network Plus programme – led by Professor Jan Godsell of Loughborough University and Professor Jill MacBryde, of the University of Strathclyde – will look at the social and economic factors that will be influential in achieving a more productive and competitive to help reach net-zero.

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