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UKRI awards £14m to 12 smart factory projects

UKRI smart factory tech
Image credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has awarded 12 smart factory projects a share of £13.7m funding pot to develop technologies that improve energy efficiency, productivity and growth in manufacturing.

The recipients of the public funding include companies using AI to spot inefficiencies in steel production and using recycled materials in 3D printing.

The winners of the Sustainable Smart Factory competition are estimated to have created 1,000 jobs and reduced 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Jackie Doyle-Price, industry minister, said: “It is now critical that companies in industries as varied as baking to advanced robotics are maximising their potential using technology such as AI and virtual reality.”

Winners of the UKRI manufacturing tech competition include:

  • Rakusen Limited: AI to improve the consistency and energy efficiency of its century-old baking equipment.
  • Photocentric: using recycled materials in mass 3D printing.
  • Topolytic: machine learning to analyse waste and create a map of reusable manufacturing products.
  • Deep.Meta: machine learning to find inefficiencies in the production of steel.
  • Pragmatic Semiconductor: using AI to increase manufacturing productivity and efficiency.
  • Raynor Foods Limited: gamifying the energy use and CO2 footprint at its sandwich factory.

It comes as part of the government’s wider £147m Made Smarter Innovation Challenge that looks to increase the use of technology within UK manufacturing.

“The successful applicants clearly demonstrated real innovation and showed just how the right use of data and technology can make a significant difference to businesses,” said Chris Needham, innovation lead, Made Smarter Innovation Challenge.

UKRI is a non-departmental body of the UK government that awards funding to research and innovation projects.

Yesterday saw further government funding go towards a £20m competition with The Tees Valley Hydrogen Transport Hub to see how hydrogen can be used in transport.