North West projects win government R&D funding packages

Ambitious research and innovation projects across the UK, including four in the North West ,will today (August 11) receive up to £50,000 each of government funding, supporting their aim to create high value jobs, upskill local workers and boost economic growth.

The 17 projects, running from Glasgow and Belfast, through to parts of Cornwall, will help the UK to respond to some of the world’s most pressing challenges – from climate change to the production of medicines.

Through the second round of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Strength in Places Fund, each project will be able to apply for a further longer-term investment of £10-50m later this year if the early stages of development are successful.

It follows the announcement by the Government in June this year of the first wave of the fund, which saw seven projects across the UK benefit from more than £400m of government and industry funding to develop their research and innovation projects.

The four schemes covering the North West are:

  • Digital Dairy Value-Chain (South-West Scotland and Cumbria): Led by Scotland’s Rural College, the consortium will combine digital communications with advanced manufacturing to help create a more modern, efficient, resilient dairy industry. It will provide dairy farmers in South West Scotland and Cumbria with access to innovative technologies and data, helping them improve their milk production and processing. The project will also seek to provide industry-focused training for dairy farmers in remote rural regions, accelerating their digital business skills, and helping to increase the productivity of their farms and business models.
  • Transforming productivity in complex medicines (Cheshire and Warrington): Led by the Medicines Discovery Catapult, and the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, the consortium aims to accelerate the development of a North West Complex Medicines cluster, by working with and supporting technology driven start-ups and spin-outs in the Cheshire and Warrington regions. By creating a regional cluster of life sciences excellence, it will deliver better patient outcomes, driven from within Cheshire and Warrington.
  • Creative City + (Manchester): Led by Manchester Metropolitan University, the consortium aims to enhance local productivity through stimulating R&D activity to increase the knowledge, skills and expertise in the creative industries required to develop innovative products and services. It will do this through the creation of three Innovation Labs, as well as a Creative Economy Observatory and Future Skill Production hub, providing direct support and access to digital technologies for creative businesses of all sizes across the region. The project also seeks to address equality and diversity within the sector.
  • Advanced Machinery & Productivity Institute (West Yorkshire and Lancashire): Led by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) the project will build on existing research capabilities across the North of England through the creation of the Advanced Machinery & Productivity Institute. Bringing together industry, local government, higher education institutions, it will provide a collaborative space for the local workforce to design, develop and manufacture advanced machinery and robotic systems, delivering the products and services needed by future industries – from electric vehicle parts to battery technologies. Once completed, the Advanced Machinery Institute will generate significant export potential for UK machinery and robot producers.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “We are backing our innovators and with the support they need to turn great ideas into first-class industries, products and technologies.

“From virtual construction projects to extracting clean heat from disused mines, the pioneering projects we are funding today will help create jobs and boost skills across the UK as we continue to drive forward our economic recovery.”

Today’s funding forms part of the Government’s commitment to increase public spending in research and development (R&D) by £22bn by 2024/25, putting the UK on track to reach 2.4% of GDP being spent on R&D across the UK economy by 2027.

It also follows the publication of the Government’s R&D Roadmap last month, which sets out plans to drive the country’s economic recovery through research and development and level up UK regions.