The £50 million Smart Manufacturing Data Hub (SMDH)
will support small and medium size manufacturers to capture and better
utilise their data, helping them increase productivity, growth and
sustainability. Businesses in sectors spanning from food and drink,
aerospace and many more will be supported to develop, test and adopt the
latest data-driven technologies.
Nearly 10,000 manufacturers are expected to benefit from the hub and
13,000 jobs will be supported, helping to boost economic growth and
level-up regions across the UK. The hub will be supported by £20 million
from the UK government backed Made Smarter Innovation Programme, along
with £30 million of business co-investment.
UK Industry Minister Lee Rowley said:
"As we embrace the digital manufacturing revolution, it is vital
manufacturers across the UK can capitalise on the productivity and
growth gains that come with the adopting the latest data-led digital
The Smart Manufacturing Data Hub, backed by £20
million of government funds, will support companies to implement cutting
edge production and process techniques themselves, helping bring the
next generation of products to our shelves in a more efficient and
The hub will host an online Manufacturing Data Exchange Platform that
will enable companies to submit their manufacturing data and receive
recommendations in return, helping to improve their products and
processes. A dedicated £5 million fund will then provide companies with
grants to make further improvements in areas of critical importance to
Virtual manufacturing testbeds will allow companies to create a
‘digital twin’ to simulate the implementation of digital technology on
their own processes, harnessing data from other manufacturers that have
already adopted the technologies to encourage investment.
The SMDH will also
provide manufacturers with expert analysis of their emissions and energy
data from support staff specialising in data analytics and engineering,
which will help them target reductions in waste, energy use and
ultimately improve sustainability.
Pro Vice Chancellor Research at Ulster University Professor Liam Maguire said:
"Made Smarter provides the opportunity for
innovative collaboration that will be transformative in driving industry
competitiveness. At Ulster University, we have a strong track record of
collaboration; using our research and technology to act as a catalyst
for change, innovation and positive economic, social and environmental
impact. Made Smarter is another important project in the broader
realisation of the Derry and Strabane City Deal agenda, further
enhancing the attractiveness of investment and driving economic growth."
The SMDH will first
be accessible by small and medium size manufacturers in Northern
Ireland in the coming months, before going live for companies across the
rest of the UK. The programme will be supported across the rest of the
UK by 12 delivery partners, including the University of Cambridge
Institute for Manufacturing, Industry Wales and Scottish Engineering.
The funding comes as part of the £300 million Made Smarter Innovation
Challenge, a collaboration between UK government and industry designed
to support the development and increased use of new and existing
industrial digital technologies, including artificial intelligence and
The challenge aims to deliver a resilient, flexible, more productive
and environmentally sustainable UK manufacturing sector. It will also
develop new technologies that can be exploited commercially across the
manufacturing industry, worldwide.
Today’s announcement builds on the government’s Help to Grow schemes,
which are helping smaller businesses to boost their productivity with
training and software that is proven to get results.