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Sustainable smart factory funding

11 November 2021

THE MADE Smarter Innovation programme, delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has launched a new collaborative research and development competition focusing on sustainable smart factories. This funding call is reported to present a huge opportunity to launch a wide range of projects that bring a significant benefit to our planet, helping to achieve net zero.

Consortiums of UK registered business and organisations can apply for a share of up to £20 million for digital innovation projects that will reduce the carbon emissions of manufacturing processes in factories. The aim of the competition is to support the development of digital innovations to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes, resulting in either reduced material or reduced energy consumption.

Applications are encouraged from consortiums comprising a mix of manufacturing and technology development capabilities working together on innovative developments or novel applications of digital technologies.

Projects can range from £1 million to £8 million, run for up to two years, and tackle themes such as reducing in-process material losses, better sequencing manufacturing operations to reduce energy consumption.

A new Economic and Social Research Council Network Plus – InterAct – has also launched to bring an economic and social science dimension to the Made Smarter Innovation programme. Led by co-directors Professor Jan Godsell of Loughborough University and Professor Jill MacBryde of the University of Strathclyde, the new network will look at the social and economic factors that will be hugely influential in achieving a more productive and competitive to help reach net zero.

InterAct seeks to ‘pioneer human insight for industry’. It is a call to arms for academics from the social sciences to support the innovation and diffusion of digital technologies that will result in a stronger, more resilient, manufacturing base. Working alongside other partners within the wider Made Smarter community, the long-term vision is to build a strong, vibrant, interdisciplinary community to support UK manufacturing.