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Wind turbines and satellites benefit from UK's largest R&D investment in 40 years


(Credit: Shutterstock)
(Credit: Shutterstock)

Advanced technologies for sectors including offshore renewable energy, manufacturing and satellites will benefit from the UK’s largest R&D investment for 40 years.

Innovation-boosting centres around the country known as Catapults will receive an extra £780m in funding, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced, adding to £180m announced last month for the North East of England.

In the West Midlands, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, Warwick Manufacturing Group and the Energy Systems Catapult in Birmingham will receive the biggest regional fund, sharing £270.9m.

At the National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland, Smar Azure is using some of the North East funding to develop a rig to test a section of a lighter and more efficient wind-turbine blade.

The High Value Manufacturing Catapult is developing hybrid manufacturing technology, which combines 3D printing with high-speed computer-controlled machining. The technology could save UK industry millions of pounds by remanufacturing high-value components that would otherwise go for scrap, the centre claimed.

The money will support the Catapults’ goals of removing barriers to innovation, helping increase competition and levelling the field for new companies. The Catapults aim to strengthen ties between industry and academia, maintain open-access, cutting-edge facilities like the MTC, and to help regulators quickly adjust for technological advances.

Since starting five years ago, the Catapults have supported 3,000 small businesses to develop and exploit new technologies, as well as training hundreds of apprentices and doctoral students.

The investment “will support innovators across the country to create the technologies of the future, and the better, highly-paid jobs we urgently need,” said Hammond.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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