Funding the future

Brake pads produced from environmentally friendly materials and orthopaedic implants fabricated from shape memory polymers are just two of the new technologies being sponsored by the government’s Technology Strategy Board.

The group has announced £20m of government support for new research and development projects designed to help British manufacturers stay ahead of international competition.

Commenting on the decision to invest in the projects, science and innovation minister, Ian Pearson, said: ‘Manufacturing is a vital sector of the UK economy, accounting for over 50 per cent of our exports, and the UK is the world’s sixth biggest manufacturer. Given the UK’s high-wage economy, future productivity and global competitiveness depend upon our ability to develop high-quality, clever technology and products. Major investment in innovative research and development, such as the £20m announced today, will enable us to maintain and improve the quality of the UK’s manufacturing capability in key areas such as aerospace, healthcare, energy and recycling.’

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, added: ‘There are some great examples of manufacturing technologies and innovation happening here in the UK. These successful projects reflect the changing nature of manufacturing and we are investing in the UK to enable it to maintain its place as one of the world’s leading manufacturing locations.’

Applications for support were received from a wide range of industries. The successful projects include research and development in areas such as carbon neutral construction products, mouldable car parts from sustainable resources, energy efficient and environmentally friendly recycling of composites, advanced ‘health management’ of wind turbine transmissions, intelligent management of electrical power systems and the manufacture of sustainable prefabricated housing from renewable materials.

The Technology Strategy Board is to invest £19m in the projects, while the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is to support four of the projects with a further £1m investment. Taking into account the matched contributions from the private sector businesses involved, the total value of the research and development projects is in excess of £40m.

The funding of these projects is the latest investment by the Technology Strategy Board and follows its autumn 2007 call for proposals in a number of innovation and technology areas. Announcements about further investments are likely to be made over the next two to three months.

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