Sector Challenge pays out before facing review

Engineering industry wins £6.5m in funding from Government pot of £36.5m

The future of the Sector Challenge competition, in which 186 projects out of 600 were awarded £36.5m of Government funding last week, is to be reviewed, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.

A spokesman said it would be reviewed `in the context of the DTI’s wider comprehensive spending review’. If the Sector Challenge does not continue in its present form, it will probably be replaced by something similar, said the spokesman, because the DTI was committed to supporting competitiveness.

Last week 30 engineering projects featured among the winners of the challenge, with offers in the aerospace, automotive, metals and minerals sectors totalling £6.5m.

These included up to £1.5m to support the Society of British Aerospace Companies Competitiveness Challenge; £150,000 to Cernes and Associates to disseminate supply chain technology for small and medium sized firms in the automotive sector; £70,000 to the Machine Tool Technologies Association’s training programme for the Chinese automotive sector; and £293,426 to the Castings Development Centre for a project to develop reuse of foundry waste.

Other winners included the Chemical Industry Association’s plan for a chemical investment help desk and the Energy Industries Council’s plans to exploit oil and gas opportunities in the former Soviet Union and Middle East. The Federation of the Electronics Industry won backing for five projects. These include an investment forum and extending overseas marketing opportunities for small and medium sized firms.

By Anthony Gould