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Sun, 29 November 2020

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Small manufacturers to get digital boost with launch of innovation hub

Small manufacturers to get digital boost with launch of innovation hub

The project will consist of 16 physical and virtual hubs to give businesses in all manufacturing industries, from food and drink to pharmaceuticals or aerospace, the chance to test their ideas and address potential problems | Credit: PA Images

High Value Manufacturing Catapult

4 min read Partner content

The High Value Manufacturing Catapult and Make Smarter team up to launch a new project to help businesses test drive new technologies.

Smaller businesses and manufacturers are being offered vital help to develop and adopt digital technologies with the launch of free innovation hubs to test out their ideas.

The Made Smarter Smart Factory Innovation Hubs pilot, launched today by the High-Value Manufacturing Catapult and Made Smarter, will allow businesses to test quick-fire projects and early stage technologies in a safe, industry-like environment to make sure they are ready before they head to market.

The project will consist of 16 physical and virtual hubs to give businesses in all manufacturing industries, from food and drink to pharmaceuticals or aerospace, the chance to test their ideas and address potential problems.

The pilot is part of the wider Manufacturing Made Smarter ISCF Innovation Hubs project.

Each hub will offer:

  • A “sandpit environment” for businesses to innovate and develop their new digital technologies before they are deployed in their own products and services
  • A “plug and play” testbed for manufacturing technologies which will allow companies to use HVM Catapult’s equipment and expertise to test, develop and showcase their solutions in stimulated real life scenarios
  • Demonstrators of integrated technology solutions where businesses can experience new technologies.The Hubs will showcase how these technologies can be put to use in a real world environment and have experts to provide support.

The Smart Factory Innovation Hubs present an exciting opportunity to apply the HVM Catapult’s deep industry knowledge and expertise to projects which require increased speed and agility.

The project is free for participants as it is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in a bid to boost homegrown manufacturing innovation.

Dick Elsy, the chief executive of the HVM Catapult, said: “We’re pleased to work with UK businesses looking to harness innovative digital technologies to transform their performance and competitiveness.

“The Smart Factory Innovation Hubs present an exciting opportunity to apply the HVM Catapult’s deep industry knowledge and expertise to projects which require increased speed and agility.”

He said the organisation was “uniquely positioned” to offer the environment innovators and manufacturers need to test the feasibility of their nascent ideas for digital and technological transformation.

The co-chair of Made Smarter, Juergen Maier, added that businesses need to be able to develop and adapt to new digital technologies as they cope with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

He said the projects will give smaller companies a chance to even the playing field against companies with much deeper pockets as industries battle to survive the UK’s second lockdown.  

“These new Made Smarter Smart Factory Innovation Hubs will give smaller companies access to world class expert support to turbo-charge new digital innovation and projects”, he explained.

“This will deliver that much needed boost to both individual businesses and the economy as a whole, as companies push forward to create the new ‘must have’ technologies of the future in order to compete in the global marketplace.”

The Made Smarter movement, backed by major manufacturers and the UK government, was born out of a national review published in 2017 which called for more ambitious leadership, greater innovation and faster implementation of new technologies within the manufacturing sector.

The move came out of a renewed focus on UK industrial strategy to boost productivity by creating brand new, high quality, high skilled jobs and increasing innovation as the country prepared to leave the European Union.

The HVM Catapult, which was launched by Innovate UK, runs 17 facilities across the UK to create the best conditions for UK economic growth by giving home-grown manufacturers the tools to develop new technologies and remain competitive on the world stage. It aims to provide the link between academic and commercial enterprise to help the UK’s brightest minds translate their ideas into real world business solutions.

Independent evaluations of the Catapult’s activity estimated its work will deliver nearly £16bn of GVA into the UK economy over the next 10 years from its 20 most substantial interventions alone.

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