Industry titans join forces with cutting edge tech startups to to address UK’s prevalent manufacturing challenges

Published:  22 April, 2021

An unmanned module to tackle sewer blockages and a digital system for mass-producing customised clothing are just two cutting-edge solutions from 14 startups selected for the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator programme.

The Made Smarter Technology Accelerator is run by Digital Catapult, the UK authority in advanced digital technology. It has been developed to pair industry leaders with technology startups to enable the use of advanced technology to radically alter, and improve, the way manufacturing is approached.

Through each individual challenge the programme aims to improve productivity in the manufacturing sector and help boost the post-Covid economy – supporting the wider Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge, with its ambition to raise productivity by 30% by 2030.

Each of the 14 startups and scaleups will be developing solutions to address some of the UK’s most prevalent manufacturing challenges, in collaboration with their Industry Challenge Owners – which include Babcock International Group and Sainsbury’s – and the programme’s Tech Sponsors, Verizon Business and Software AG.

The startups and scaleups will each receive up to £20,000 programme funding as they build prototypes and can then apply for a further £100,000 of programme funding to develop minimum viable products later in the programme – resulting in solutions which could be applied for commercial use.

The challenges range from increasing shelf-life and sell-through rate of products while reducing waste (Sainsbury’s) to scalable artificial intelligence for products’ visual inspection (BAE Systems).

Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult said: "The UK’s startup community leads Europe in developing applications for advanced digital technologies – but to reap the rewards of this innovation, those developments must be adopted by industrial partners and customers in the UK and around the world.

“With our focus turning to economic recovery, the Made Smarter Technology programme emphasises the role of advanced digital technologies in tackling industry challenges head-on.

“Congratulations to the successful startups and scaleups who will be working with our industry partners to develop ideas from AI solutions to improve food products’ shelf life, to tech to improve ship design – helping propel UK manufacturing."

Juergen Maier, chair of Digital Catapult and co-chair of Made Smarter added:

“Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about extremely challenging conditions for the manufacturing sector, it also represents a chance for industry to take a step back to explore how we can innovate and apply advanced digital technologies to do things better.

“This programme has brought to the fore the world class expertise in the UK technology sector and by pairing bright startups and scaleups with large manufacturers, we hope to leverage those capabilities across a variety of disruptive emerging technologies to meet industry needs – from cutting costs, to boosting productivity.”

Minister for Investment, Lord Grimstone said:

“The Made Smarter Technology Accelerator will leverage the world-leading innovation of UK start-ups to overcome some of the most pressing challenges faced by the manufacturing industry.

“This programme will empower cutting edge start-ups, specialising in areas such as AI and robotics, to collaborate with industry giants, helping businesses to build back better from the pandemic.”

More information can be accessed via www.madesmartertech.uk and https://www.madesmartertech.uk/cohorts/

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