Research boost for UK manufacturing industries

A £51m investment to ensure the UK stays at the leading edge of manufacturing research was unveiled today by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.

The package forms part of the Advanced Manufacturing strand of the Government's Growth Review and will help stimulate growth in the most promising areas of manufacturing research including pharmaceuticals, aerospace and the automotive industry.

£45m will fund nine Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centres for Innovative Manufacturing and a further £6m will support the manufacturing pioneers of the future.

The national centres, run by universities including Nottingham, Cranfield and Strathclyde, will focus on emerging science including biological pharmaceuticals, novel composite technologies, and intelligent automation, helping generate the new ideas that will fuel growth.

David Willetts said:

"Partnerships between higher education and industry are increasingly essential drivers of innovation, opportunity and national prosperity. These new centres will combine inventive research and business acumen to develop the high-tech manufacturing industries we need to secure sustainable growth."

The EPSRC centres will work closely with businesses on tackling major research challenges, and are backed by leading industry partners including GSK, Rolls-Royce, IBM and a range of high-tech small and medium sized enterprises.

Minister for Business and Enterprise Mark Prisk said:

"Manufacturing generates £140 billion a year for the economy and accounts for 55 per cent of total UK exports. And increasingly, it is high tech, advanced manufacturing that leads the way.

"But we need to do more to rebalance our economy. These exciting new partnerships between our universities and businesses will play a vital role in keeping UK manufacturing ahead of the game internationally."

The nine new EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing are:

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Ultra Precision will create ultra high precision manufacturing tools that can make product with nanoscale precision. Led by Cranfield University. The EPSRC grant value will total £5.2m, with an additional £1.2m from industry partners.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing for Industrial Sustainability will rapidly reduce the resource and energy-intensity of the production of existing goods, and investigate options for a radical redesign of the industrial system. Led by Cranfield University. The Grant will total £4.5m, with an additional £1.3m from industry partners.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Through-life Engineering Services will design high value systems such as aircraft engines that require less engineering service, and incur less whole life cost. Led by Cranfield University. The grant will total £4.8m, with an additional £3.5m from industry partners.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites will develop the next generation of composite manufacturing processes based on low cost, short cycle times, efficiency and sustainability. Led by University of Nottingham. The grant will total £4.9m, with an additional £1.8m from industry partners.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Intelligent Automation will capture and advance human skills and develop automated processes. Led by Loughborough University. The grant will total £4.8m, with an additional £334,000 from industry partners.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing will combine multi-material, multifunctional devices with amalgamated electrical, optical and structural properties in a single manufacturing process using additive manufacturing. Led by Loughborough University. The grant will total £4.9m, with an additional £3.2m from industry partners.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation will take forward the move from batch manufacturing to fully continuous manufacturing processes for high value chemical products. This will lead to higher levels of quality, lower cost and more sustainable production. Led by University of Strathclyde.The grant will total £4.9m, with an additional £1.8m from industry partners.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Advanced Metrology will create and developing a ‘factory on the machine' linking measurement and production to minimise cost and allow ever increasing complexity and quality in manufacturing. Led by University of Huddersfield. The grant will total £4m, with an additional £3.2m from industry partners.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Emergent Macromolecular Therapies will create the capabilities by which UK companies will be able to select drug candidates for clinical trials, both on the basis of clinical efficacy manufacturing feasibility, resulting in greatly reduced costs. Led by University College London. The grant will total £4.9m, with an additional £3.9m from industry partners.

The £6m programme of new EPSRC Manufacturing Fellowships aims to forge more effective links between business and research. The five year Fellowships will provide support for at least six exceptional engineers and technology specialists from business who are able to bridge university and industrial cultures and who have the potential to transform UK research and manufacturing. Each Fellow will lead a £1 million programme of research.

A High-Value Manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC), also announced today, will play a key role in taking the research from the EPSRC Centres to the next stage of the innovation chain.

All manufacturing policies proposals from the Growth Review will be announced by Budget 2011.

For more information visit: www.epsrc.ac.uk

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