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£300m for productivity-boosting manufacturing projects

Businesses with creative ideas to boost the UK’s manufacturing capabilities through the use of cutting-edge technology can access funding through the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge.

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The Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge supports businesses that have identified novel ways to use the latest digital manufacturing technologies to boost their productivity and reach new customers.

A total of £300 million in joint government and industry funding is available through the Challenge, with the first £50 million now allocated to 14 collaborative projects based around the country.

Winning projects from the first round of funding include:

  • ‘WeldZero’, a project that will use robots, sensors and automation to improve accuracy when welding metal parts on a production line
  • A ‘Digital Designer Robot’ that will be able to virtually ‘converse’ with businesses to design a bespoke product and quickly upload it onto a supplier’s website for sampling, prototyping and manufacturing
  • A ‘Smart Connected Shop Floor’ that will include Augmented Reality (AR) headsets to guide engineers through repairs
  • The ‘Digital Sandwich’, a new piece of software which will enable food and drink businesses to connect online and share valuable data
  • A frame-building project that will use the latest industrial digital technologies to develop super lightweight, aluminium bikes for children

The rest of the grant funding will be delivered through additional rounds over the next five years. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

“Increasing productivity is vital for any business, and having the right new technologies in place can help manufacturers make better products to compete and thrive.

“By helping manufacturers to reduce costs, cut waste, and slash the time it takes to develop their products, this multi-million pound uplift will help fire up the cylinders of productivity as we build back better.”

The competition is part of the Made Smarter, which has helped almost 1,000 businesses to date to adopt cutting-edge Industry 4.0 technologies like AI, 3D printing and robotics.

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