Manufacturing News

Digital Catapult kicks off five-year journey to develop Smart Manufacturing in Northern Ireland


Manufacturing companies from across Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK have the opportunity to take part in a series of fully funded workshops to introduce the technologies, tools and techniques of Industry 4.0 in their workplace.   

The FutureScope Smart Manufacturing Experiment marks the first step in a five-year journey by local nano technology consortium Smart Nano NI to further the development of smart manufacturing in Northern Ireland. The initiative is being delivered by Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, as part of the consortium.

Participants in Experiment will be able to access a series of free learning sessions to enable them to identify challenges and opportunities affecting their businesses, and gain the necessary skills to work towards the creation of a proposal for a prototype smart technologies solution.

The programme has been made possible by government funding awarded to Smart Nano NI by the UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places fund. This research and innovation funding supports significant local economic growth and will accelerate the development of transformative advanced prototyping and smart manufacturing methods in Northern Ireland.

Brendan Lowry, Innovation Partner from Digital Catapult said: “This is a pivotal moment for the development of smart manufacturing in Northern Ireland. With its proud manufacturing heritage, links to the UK and Europe, and a fast-growing innovation ecosystem, Northern Ireland stands out as a frontrunner to maximise the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0.  

“Experiment will help to further the process of enabling the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland to take advantage of the substantial market opportunities offered by smart technologies, as well as the economic and environmental efficiencies which they can offer.”   

Digital Catapult is now seeking applications for the initiative from manufacturing businesses from all sectors through an open call which will run until 13 September.  Applications are open to manufacturers at an early stage in their smart manufacturing journey or those keen to find out more about smart technologies and their uses. 

Over the 12 week Experiment programme, participants will learn about the basic principles and functionality of cutting-edge smart technologies such as nanotechnology, blockchain, 5G and augmented reality, as well as their use cases and market potential. Expert technologists from Digital Catapult and Smart Nano NI will support participants with feedback on feasibility and practical requirements to ensure graduates’ outcomes are targeted and actionable. 

Smart Nano NI will develop game-changing advanced prototyping and smart manufacturing methods to deliver new technologies, supporting innovation-led economic growth, both in the area and nationally, as well as enhancing local research and innovation collaborations. 

Speaking on behalf of UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund, Dean Cook, Innovate UK Director for Place and Levelling Up said: 

“FutureScope Smart Manufacturing Experiment, which harnesses expertise from across the Smart Nano NI consortium, will help to drive forward new advances in the field of smart manufacturing. 

“It is supported by a £42m UKRI Strength in Places Fund investment and will catalyse further growth in Northern Ireland’s innovation ecosystem, delivering economic benefits that will be felt across the UK. 

“It is one of many examples of how UKRI investment into innovation clusters is supporting the government’s levelling up agenda.” 

On Wednesday 17 August Digital Catapult will host a live, interactive briefing session on the FutureScope Smart Manufacturing Experiment, at Ormeau Baths, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast.  This event will offer manufacturers the chance to hear from leaders in the smart manufacturing sector and to see what smart manufacturing could do for their business and their clients.

To apply for a free place on FutureScope Smart Manufacturing Experiment, visit futurescope.digicatapult.org.uk/how-to-apply/smart-manufacturing-experiment and register your interest to take part.

To reserve a place on the FutureScope Smart Manufacturing Experiment interactive briefing session at Ormeau Baths, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast on Wednesday 17 August at 2.30pm, search ‘FutureScope Smart Manufacturing Briefing Session’ on Eventbrite to RSVP.

For further information on Smart Nano NI, visit www.smartnanoni.com

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