University hubs to boost sustainability in manufacturing processes

19 June 2024 by Acre
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New research hubs have been created to improve environmental sustainability in manufacturing processes.

The university-led hubs, which have leveraged significant co-investment, are expected to address challenges of commercialising early-stage research in key areas of manufacturing such as semiconductors and medicines.

The five hubs, which will each receive £11m are supported by the UK Research and Innovation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and will utilize expertise and access to facilities to achieve accelerated industrial impact.

The economy will be strengthened through more sustainable manufacturing through improved efficiency, waste reduction, lower emissions and less pollution.

They are situated at Cardiff University, University of Oxford, University of Huddersfield, University of Strathclyde and University of Birmingham. They aim to make advances in sustainability across the manufacturing industry, for example through exploring the full potential of renewable energy, and the reuse and repurposing of materials and processes.

Andrew Griffith, Science Minister, said: “Manufacturing accounts for almost a tenth of the UK’s economic output, but for the sector to keep growing and sustaining jobs nationwide, it has to tackle challenges ranging from reducing emissions to cutting production costs.

“These new hubs will support UK researchers with the cutting-edge facilities they need, to help our manufacturers seize the benefits of technologies such as robotics and AI. Harnessing these innovations will cement the UK’s position as a global leader in sustainable manufacturing.”

Solutions include reducing waste, sourcing alternatives to materials that negatively impact the environment and speeding up manufacturing processes.

Alan Mak, Minister for Industry and Economic Security, said: “Thanks to our Advanced Manufacturing Plan, we’re helping businesses take advantage of the twin transitions of digitalisation and net zero, along with tax cuts, faster grid connections and more, helping grow the green industries of the future.

“This investment will help keep the UK at the cutting edge of research in key sectors like semiconductors and medicine and help secure a sustainable future for our innovative manufacturing industry.”

Professor Charlotte Deane, EPSRC Executive Chair, said: “Given the scale and importance of the UK’s manufacturing sector we must ensure that it is able to benefit fully from advances made across the research and innovation ecosystem.

With their focus on innovation and sustainability the advances made by the hubs will benefit specific sectors, the wider manufacturing sector and economy, as well the environment.”

The total cost of financial support to the new hubs amounts to more than £99m, considering partner contributions, cash and in-kind.

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