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National data innovation hub to accelerate digital tech

Nearly 10,000 SME manufacturers across the UK are expected to benefit from a new £50 million data innovation hub and testbed that has been announced by government.

The Smart Manufacturing Data Hub (SMDH) will support SMEs to capture and better utilise their data to increase productivity, growth and sustainability.

Led by UIster University, the Hub will host an online ‘Manufacturing Data Exchange Platform’ that will enable companies to submit their manufacturing data and receive recommendations in return, helping to improve their products and processes. A dedicated £5 million fund will then provide companies with grants to make further improvements in areas of critical importance to their business.

Virtual manufacturing testbeds will allow companies to create a ‘digital twin’ to simulate the implementation of digital technology on their own processes, harnessing data from other manufacturers that have already adopted the technologies.

The SMDH will also provide manufacturers with expert analysis of their emissions and energy data from support staff specialising in data analytics and engineering, which will help them target reductions in waste, energy use and ultimately improve sustainability.

The initiative has been backed with £20 million from the government-backed Made Smarter Innovation Programme, along with £30 million of business co-investment.

UK Industry Minister Lee Rowley said:

“As we embrace the digital manufacturing revolution, it is vital manufacturers across the UK can capitalise on the productivity and growth gains that come with the adopting the latest data-led digital technologies.

“The Smart Manufacturing Data Hub, backed by £20 million of government funds, will support companies to implement cutting-edge production and process techniques themselves, helping bring the next generation of products to our shelves in a more efficient and sustainable way.”

The SMDH will first be made accessible to SME manufacturers in Northern Ireland over the coming months, before going live for companies across the rest of the UK.

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