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Government commits £140m to manufacturing innovation

11 October, 2011

The British Government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has announced plans to invest £140m over a six-year period to stimulate UK manufacturing, to reduce innovation risks for UK manufacturers, and to attract international business to the UK.

Much of the funding will go on a series of at least six Technology and Innovation Centres (TICs) to be established by April 2013. The first of these – focusing on high-value manufacturing (HVM) – has just opened for business. Another one will focus on offshore renewable energy technologies.

The new HVM TIC brings together seven institutions to support UK manufacturing. Each will focus on a different area. They include: an Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Sheffield; a Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry; a Centre for Process Innovation at Wilton & Sedgefield; and the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick.

The HVM TIC will commercialise business-led research and innovation to help UK manufacturers to become more competitive globally. About a third of the TIC’s funding will come from direct contracts with UK businesses, and a third from competitive research and development grants, including EU funding. The rest will come from the TSB.

 

“High-value manufacturing is a priority for the TSB,” says the Board’s chief executive, Iain Gray. “The future of manufacturing in the UK needs to be high-value, delivering strong financial performance, strategic importance, and positive social impact. The UK has some of the best manufacturing businesses in the world, the industry accounts for 12% of GDP and around half of exports, and in 2010 employed 2.5 million people. The new Centre will help UK businesses stay at the leading edge of manufacturing technology, and create and protect jobs long into the future.”

Steve Radley, director of policy at EEF, the manufacturers association, has welcomed the TIC announcement but warns that “with economic headwinds increasing, manufacturers will need to hear more from government soon if they are to make the investment we need to drive our economy forward. Looking forward to the Autumn Statement, it is vital that the government takes the opportunity to set out a coherent strategy and package of measures that will deliver stronger investment, growth and job creation.”




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