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UK Invests £55 Million in Five New Manufacturing Research Hubs

by Anna

The United Kingdom is set to establish five new manufacturing research hubs aimed at addressing challenges to the commercialization of early-stage research within crucial areas of manufacturing, including semiconductors and medicines.

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Led by Professor Xiangqian Jiang at the University of Huddersfield, the Advanced Metrology for Sustainable Manufacturing is among the highlighted hubs. These hubs not only aim to tackle key manufacturing challenges but also prioritize improving environmental sustainability in manufacturing processes.

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The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has allocated £55 million for these initiatives, with each hub receiving £11 million. Including partner contributions, cash, and in-kind support, the total investment committed to the new hubs amounts to £99.3 million.

Science Minister Andrew Griffith emphasized the importance of sustainable manufacturing in bolstering the UK economy. He noted that improved efficiency, reduced waste, emissions, and pollution, as well as lower production costs, are among the potential benefits of more sustainable manufacturing practices.

According to EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Charlotte Deane, the hubs’ focus on innovation and sustainability will benefit specific sectors, the wider manufacturing sector and economy, as well as the environment.

The five manufacturing research hubs aim to address various challenges in commercializing early-stage research within different manufacturing sectors. This includes reducing waste, providing alternatives to costly or environmentally damaging materials, and speeding up processes.

Working closely with industry partners, the researchers will explore different pathways to manufacture products, including production scale-up and integration within the wider industrial system. The ultimate goal is to make advances in sustainability across manufacturing by exploring renewable energy use, and the reuse and repurposing of materials and processes.

Here are the five hubs:

CSManuHubSust (Led by Professor Peter Smowton, Cardiff University) aims to capitalize on compound semiconductor manufacturing opportunities. The hub will focus on developing energy-efficient opto-electronics for key emerging technologies and creating new devices to enhance environmental benefits.

Sustainable ChEmicals and materials MAnufacturing (SCHEMA) Hub (Led by Professor Charlotte Williams, University of Oxford) aims to transform fossil-based polymer manufacturing into a sustainable, flexible, and digital industry. The hub will integrate renewable materials and renewable electricity-driven processes to design sustainable products for various sectors.

Advanced Metrology for Sustainable Manufacturing Hub (Led by Professor Xiangqian Jiang, University of Huddersfield) aims to develop ground-breaking technologies to improve resource efficiency and productivity across sectors reliant on precision manufacturing. The hub seeks to reduce industries’ reliance on international labor and decrease the carbon cost of transportation.

MediForge Hub (Led by Professor Alastair Florence, University of Strathclyde) aims to revolutionize medicine development and manufacturing through advanced technologies such as robotics and AI. The hub seeks to achieve sustainable and agile medicine production while reducing raw material use and waste.

Manufacturing Research Hub in Robotics, Automation & Smart Machine Enabled Sustainable Circular Manufacturing & Materials (RESCu-M2) (Led by Professor Samia Nefti-Meziani, University of Birmingham) aims to create a sustainable circular manufacturing ecosystem using AI, robotics, and intelligent automation. The hub seeks to increase component reuse and reclamation across sectors such as electric drives, energy, and medical devices.

These initiatives highlight the UK’s commitment to fostering innovation and sustainability in manufacturing, paving the way for a more resilient and environmentally friendly future.

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