Digital Catapult teams with industry for prototype challenge

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Firms including BAE Systems, Babcock and Sainsbury’s are partnering with the Digital Catapult for a new set of prototype challenges aimed at boosting technology adoption across industry.

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(Credit BAE Systems)

The Made Smarter Technology Accelerator will see a total of 14 challenges laid out for start-up and early-stage companies to tackle. These include increasing shelf life and sell-through of products while reducing waste (Sainsbury’s) to scalable artificial intelligence for visual inspection (BAE Systems). Selected entries will be provided with up to £20,000 in funding to develop prototypes, with a further £100,000 available further down the line to develop minimum viable products.

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“Navigating this years’ extremely challenging conditions has been tough for manufacturers of all sizes, right across the UK,” said Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult.

“The Made Smarter Technology Accelerator will make visible how a range of disruptive emerging technologies will really work to benefit early industrial adopters. It will also clarify routes to market for digital innovators. The outcomes from this programme are really positive, we will see new and traditional businesses working together - making enormous savings, significantly improving productivity, developing new business models, boosting exports and delivering on challenging net-zero targets.”

According to research commissioned by Digital Catapult and the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator, 77 per cent of UK manufacturers say the COVID pandemic has made them more receptive to innovation and change. But adoption of new technology has not always kept pace with other nations, and this is cited as one of the reasons behind the UK’s low productivity levels next to competitors. The aim of the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator will be to showcase advances in areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT and 5G, providing a technological shot in the arm for UK industry.

“Our newly announced partners have set ambitious challenges, and the UK’s vibrant and diverse digital technology innovation community is incredibly well-placed to respond,” said Juergen Maier, chair of Digital Catapult and co-chair of Made Smarter.

“By creating bonds between technology start-ups and scaleups and the manufacturing industry we have the opportunity for the UK to lead the way in the fourth industrial revolution – as advanced technology radically alters, and improves, the way we approach manufacturing.”

The seven partners joining the programme are Babcock International Group, BAE Systems, GAF, Northumbrian Water Group (NWG), O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Limited, Safran Landing Systems and Sainsbury’s. Applications close on 7 February 2021 and more information can be found here.