Wave 1 seedcorn-funded proposals

UKRI Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) Wave 1 consortia were led by either a research organisation or a business, and involved local leadership organisations.


CS Connected

Lead organisation: Cardiff University

The semiconductor industry is one of the most productive sectors of the global economy. In the US its contribution to real economic growth was more than seven times its share of nominal GDP (Semiconductor Industry Association, 2014 Review). It punches above its weight in terms of driving innovation, and the technology underpins high value manufacturing supply chains that are becoming increasing important for national self-sufficiency. Our Strength in Places project will consolidate a rapidly emerging compound semiconductor (CS) cluster in South Wales, and drive new linkages with wider UK industry. Since the vision was defined in 2015, a wide range of new initiatives have been announced with an astounding sense of collective purpose and pace of delivery:


  • Announcement of new Institute for Compound Semiconductors with a translational research facility on the Cardiff University Innovation Campus to house more than 100 researchers by 2020, supported by UKRPIF, ERDF and WG
  • Establishment of Compound Semiconductor Centre Ltd, a joint venture between Cardiff University and IQE Plc with 78 staff dedicated to CS materials research.


  • Announcement of the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, which will scale to around 100 highly skilled applications engineering specialists by 2020
  • Award of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded Future Manufacturing Hub in CS Materials, led by Cardiff to address the challenges of manufacturing scale up of novel CS technology.


  • Establishment of a CS foundry as the first flagship project of the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, to house a large-scale CS materials foundry operated by IQE Plc (creating a further 500 direct highly skilled jobs by 2023) and the HQ of the CSA Catapult
  • Acquisition of a silicon wafer foundry by a local consortium backed by Welsh government with a view of deploying capacity to CS activities – this facility was designated for closure in 2017 by its then owner InfineonAG, hence this deal saved 470 highly skilled jobs in a new entity called Newport Wafer Fab.

The project will accelerate the growth of the Cluster by adopting an innovation-led economic growth approach, focused on wealth creation opportunities and aligned to the needs of businesses in the region.

CS Connected will focus on:

  • science and innovation support underpinning the chip-scale integration of multiple components in Optoelectronics, Power and 5G
  • provision of training to enhance skills across the region through a CS Skills Academy collaboration between HE and FE
  • establishing the cluster on the international stage by attracting direct foreign investment within the CS supply chain.

Northern Ireland

Decarbonisation of maritime transportation – a return to commercial sailing

Lead organisation: Artemis Technologies

The Department for Transport’s Maritime 2050 Call for Evidence report highlights that the UK Maritime sector contributes £14.5 billion to the UK economy and directly supports an estimated 186,000 jobs with approximately 95% of all British imports and exports transported by sea. However, the ocean’s ecosystem is fragile and the UK’s coastline is under constant danger from the environmental hazards posed by ship emissions, with 2016 domestic shipping accounting for approximately 5% of all domestic transport greenhouse gases in the UK. In line with the 2018 clean air strategy from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and with recent global trends to curb emissions from both ground vehicles and aviation, the maritime sector is embracing the need to legislate and to develop a strategy to reduce greenhouse gases for shipping, to ensure global legislation delivers transformational change by promoting the need for future zero emission vessels.

The Belfast City centric consortium, which is led by Artemis Technologies, operating from Belfast Harbour, has a collective pedigree of successfully delivering high value complex new product development projects, in a timely manner and on budget.

The Consortium’s project aims to fast track the proof of concept prototyping of a new class of vessel and sub-systems, concentrating on developing a zero-emissions 45m oceangoing carbon composite commercial autonomous sailing catamaran vessel, with unlimited range. This novel vessel utilises a number of key technologies, including:

  • aerodynamic and hydrodynamic foiling optimisation
  • autonomous control systems and routing
  • drone delivery
  • advanced carbon composite structures
  • high (more than 75kW/L) power density efficient (more than 98%) energy recovery systems.

Risks will be mitigated throughout the project’s work packages using an existing Artemis Technologies one-third scale foiling sailing vessel as a ‘test-mule’ for feasibility studies of the novel new systems, in addition to utilising real-time simulation and a new motion platform simulator, to ensure optimal correlation and project efficiency, prior to building the full-scale ocean-going prototype.

If successful Belfast will possess a world class, scalable maritime design and build capability that is able to deliver a high value transformative product for export. Based on ongoing commercial discussions with potential future customers, applications for the prototype class of vessel range from a high speed (more than 50 knots maximum speed) 50 passenger ferry, to a defence reconnaissance vessel. If the consortium meets our design targets and overcomes the technical challenges the return on investment for the members and the region will be significant, as will the benefit to the environment.


Accelerating the Fourth Industrial Revolution across Scotland’s Central Belt

Lead organisation: University of Strathclyde

With Strength in Places funding the University of Strathclyde-led project aims to boost the economic impact of the burgeoning industrial biotechnology sector in Scotland’s central belt. We will fast-track the pathway from research to commercial deployment by filling gaps in the existing innovation system to unlock further economic impacts from the ‘bio-revolution’ – developing biology-based products and platforms.

Key activities include creating:

  • a Centre of Excellence for Engineering Biology headquartered at the University of Edinburgh (but including Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, Heriot Watt University and the James Hutton Institute) with an incubator to support new companies in engineering biology products and services and biorefining
  • enhanced bioprocess technology scale-up facilities, extending those established by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) to enable existing and new businesses to graduate their technologies from TRL 4-7
  • a physical industry partnership and skills hub with enhanced digital and data collaboration technologies for near-to-market businesses approaching commercial demonstration stage (TRL 8-9).

Located at the new Forth Valley College campus at the heart of the Grangemouth Industrial Cluster, the hub will enable businesses to access the vital supply chain and local, award-winning, industrial skills training. It will enable the emerging cluster companies to connect and collaborate with other UK centres of academic and manufacturing excellence and to secure co-location sites locally within the cluster. This is a partnership with industry to ensure that the physical infrastructure and sites are available for investment.

The unitary authority of Falkirk is home to the Grangemouth industrial cluster, Scotland’s largest manufacturing site in terms of economic impact and carbon dioxide emissions. More than £1 in £25 in the Scottish economy is generated in Grangemouth.

The consortium includes expertise from industrial and academic players in synthetic biology (Ingenza, GSK), biorefining (Cellucomp, Celtic Renewables, 3FBio, Marine Biopolymers Ltd) and Grangemouth cluster colocation providers (Ineos, Calachem and Forth Ports) as well as the leading academic institutes in the region (Universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Heriot Watt University and James Hutton Institute). Crucially the bid has the support of Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, Scottish Futures Trust, Scottish Funding Council and the local authorities across the region. IBioIC is an important actor in the UK Bio-economy Strategy and Scotland’s National IB strategy.

Clyde Waterfront Innovation Campus

Lead organisation: University of Glasgow

Glasgow is the economic powerhouse of Scotland, generating £19.3 billion gross value added (GVA) each year, the largest of any Scottish city. It is the heart of a conurbation of 1.8 million people with a globally significant higher education sector. Glasgow has the second most highly-skilled workforce among UK cities, with 46.3% of the workforce educated to degree level. However, the decline of Glasgow’s key industries – shipbuilding and engineering – has left a physical and social legacy: the city has a large volume of vacant and derelict land and 29% of the working age population is economically inactive.

The key objective of the Glasgow economic strategy for 2016 to 2023 is to tackle inequality in the city by increasing productivity in key sectors driving the city’s economic growth and by leveraging unique academic strengths to accelerate innovation and develop skills. Our contribution towards these objectives is the establishment, in collaboration with the city, of a high-technology research and innovation campus focused on the manufacturing of high-value components for photonics, optoelectronics and quantum technology.

The project is centred around the unique capabilities of the University of Glasgow’s James Watt Nanofabrication Centre (JWNC) hosting £32 million of fabrication tools. The University and the City will invest £55.5 million in the relocation and expansion of JWNC and the establishment of the Clyde Waterfront Innovation Campus and supporting infrastructure. £28 million of Strength in Places support will provide flexible spaces for companies to co-locate on the innovation campus and resources to deliver innovation activities including an accelerator programme, technology road-mapping, collaborative R&D and skills development.

The campus is located in Govan, an area of Glasgow that has suffered economic decline as a result of deindustrialisation. The Clyde Waterfront Innovation Campus is forecast to generate 50 jobs, attract £21 million of private sector investment and generate an annual uplift of £27 million GVA across Glasgow. It will be the first step towards the redevelopment of a total of 15 acres of derelict land in Govan resulting in over 1,100 jobs and a GVA uplift of £67 million a year. This ambitious plan is part of the broader Clyde Waterfront and West End Innovation Quarter spanning the city’s West End and waterfront area, including Govan. A joint initiative between the university, the city and Scottish Enterprise, the Innovation Quarter will leverage £1 billion investment by the university in the campus redevelopment programme, providing an agglomeration of world-class research, industry, public sector and cultural assets to create a rich innovation ecosystem.

Global Centre of Excellence in Open Banking (COB)

Lead organisation: Fintech Scotland

The global financial technology community has been campaigning for fairer access to financial data and payment technologies and networks as critical factors in their ability to innovate. In the UK this was formalised in the Open Banking (OB) movement which has spread now throughout the world (firstly by adding account-aggregation into EU legislation (PSD2, 2013), and more locally by the Competition and Markets Authority compelling the nine largest UK banks to deliver a standards-based approach to OB.

The UK-based Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) is the trade association developing OB across North America, India, Europe, Australasia and many other significant global markets. The governments and regulators in these markets have encouraged the sharing of best practice in developing the liability model, legal and regulatory frameworks, and technology and implementation requirements of delivering an OB standard. In delivering a Global Centre of Excellence in Open Banking, FinTech Scotland will work in partnership with FDATA and the University of Edinburgh (UoE)

Why does OB really matter? The COB intends to have significant social and economic impact across many markets by developing a fairer, healthier economic situation for people. In particular, three challenges have emerged, which are core to the COB’s mission:

  • fair access to reasonably-priced credit
  • impact of population growth on property ownership (concentration of ownership amongst a smaller percentage of people, accelerating rent-price growth and exacerbating the poverty gap)
  • impact of the above issues on the ability of people to save for ever longer lives.

With these issues in focus the COB will develop five capabilities:

  • a global sandpit of relevant, up-to-date transaction data (hosted by UoE on its supercomputers)
  • ethics and privacy supervision of the use of this data in business models and in AI to ensure OB is a force for good
  • access to research capability for financial services and financial technology companies to develop new business models prior to market entry, mentored by academic leadership in data science
  • a global observatory of human financial behaviour to enable economists, policy-makers and regulators to assess through time the economic impact of decisions they make
  • an objective technical resource to help guide technical standards and capability as OB roles out across many markets.

By headquartering the COB in Edinburgh, which benefits from local OB and data science expertise, we anticipate a strong OB-enabled financial technology cluster to emerge creating economic impact for the supply-chain and significant inward investment in the region.

The Living Lab: driving economic growth in Glasgow through real world implementation of precision medicine

Lead organisation: University of Glasgow

The recent Science and Innovation Audit of Precision Medicine Innovation in Scotland highlighted the internationally significant precision medicine assets, capabilities and growth opportunities that exist in Scotland – particularly within Glasgow, building on £900 million of investments at the University of Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus. Glasgow is uniquely positioned to drive precision medicine adoption, which will drive improved health outcomes, NHS savings and productivity growth.

A consortium of public and private partners has developed an ambitious vision for creating a precision medicine-focused Living Lab at the QEUH. In framing this vision, partners have sought to tackle one of the biggest precision medicine challenges for industry – translating science and innovation excellence into a real-world clinical setting. By implementing and evaluating novel precision medicine approaches at the campus, industry will be able to stimulate and evidence market demand, thus accelerating precision medicine adoption and the growth of the local life sciences cluster.

The project comprises three elements:

  • targeted support to increase levels of demand-led innovation focused on precision medicine technologies
  • creating an ecosystem that ‘oils the wheels’ for piloting precision medicine technologies and techniques (for example, pharmacogenomics-based medication management, diagnostics, transcriptomes and advanced imaging) to support implementation in a fully integrated Scottish healthcare system
  • developing enabling infrastructures required to support continued cluster development at the campus.

The current on-site Clinical Innovation Zone is projected to be full in 2019, so a new grow on facility is urgently needed if growth is to be maintained. New office and lab space will be created, along with investment in high quality support, improved access to growth finance and strong leadership for the cluster.

The objectives are to:

  • realise the full potential and benefit of precision medicine through real-world piloting its implementation at the largest acute hospital in Europe
  • accelerate cluster development by fostering new business formation, attracting inward investment and scaling-up existing companies
  • demonstrate and evaluate the savings to the NHS through the implementation of existing precision medicine diagnostics
  • improve medication safety and efficacy for stratified patient cohorts by evidencing the beneficial economic and patient outcome impacts of pharmacogenomics in a way that can be scaled-up nationally.

The project is expected to create around 500 jobs and deliver between £150 and £200 million in GVA over 15 years.

North East

Centre for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CESAM)

Lead organisation: University of Sunderland

Advanced manufacturing growth is one of four areas of strategic importance within North East England’s strategic economic plan and at the heart of Sunderland City and South Tyneside economic masterplans. The Centre for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CeSAM) is a transformational regional investment that forms a critical component of North East England’s plans to create ‘more and better jobs’ through growth in smart and sustainable advanced manufacturing.

CeSAM featured in the Made Smarter review and the Powerhouse 2050 – the North’s routemap for productivity – and is supported by the High Value Manufacturing and Digital Catapults. At its core the project is a partnership between the North East Automotive Alliance, its members including Nissan, Komatsu and Cummins, Sunderland City Council, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and the University of Sunderland. The partnership’s objective is to establish a focal point and catalyst for sustainable productivity improvement in advanced manufacturing companies by accelerating the development and adoption of manufacturing innovations. CeSAM specifically tackles the difficulties associated with introducing digital and manufacturing innovations across supply chains and into fast-moving production environments. Differing levels of technology readiness within organisations and across supply chains, uncertainties regarding the future direction of emerging technologies and significant costs and risks, have prevented timely adoption of new technology. CeSAM will work with companies, their suppliers and customers to address this by developing, testing and proving technologies on full-scale, moving production lines. There is no similar facility in the UK.

CeSAM’s immediate priority is enhancing the productivity, competitiveness and growth of the region’s £11 billion automotive sector, which is of crucial importance to the North East’s economic future. Most companies are branch plants or synchronous suppliers, with very limited budgets for research and development (R&D), which makes it difficult to identify and invest in innovation and productivity improvements. Despite generating a third of UK car production, the North East undertakes less than 1% of automotive industry research. CeSAM will enable companies to work together and collaborate with universities, catapults and key partners, to identify and develop solutions to manufacturing challenges and transfer innovations into business operations.

Initially focusing on four key areas (sustainability, additive manufacturing, robotics and artificial intelligence, and digital manufacturing) CeSAM will address an unmet industry need for support with emerging technologies.

CeSAM will have a direct and substantial economic impact, enhancing the region’s capacity to innovate, and supporting a significant increase in UK content within the region’s advanced manufacturing sector.

Establishing the UK Hydrogen Corridor

Lead organisation: TWI

The production and use of green hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels has the potential to dramatically reduce carbon emissions in areas including industrial processes, transport and for domestic gas supply.

The project is focused around the ‘hydrogen corridor’ which is uniquely placed to develop and prototype hydrogen-based technologies. The Tees Valley and Leeds City regions have the capability and ambition to play a significant role in the transition to a hydrogen-based economy, with the Tees Valley focus being on the production, industrial use and storage of hydrogen and the Leeds City Region focused on the proposed transition of domestic gas to hydrogen and the associated manufacturing sector to deliver equipment and machinery to support the sector. This project will focus on whole energy systems, delivering underpinning research, industrial scale demonstration projects and skills and training support which will enable the new processes and technologies developed to be deployed into current and new industry to drive economic growth. Specific research is needed into:

  • low cost green hydrogen, including the use of excess wind energy, with the potential to utilise the existing storage facilities in the Tees Valley
  • the deployment of hydrogen as a domestic fuel in LCR through the H21 project which will source gas from the Tees Valley, with the conversion to hydrogen dramatically reducing related carbon emissions
  • the use of hydrogen to produce sustainable chemical feedstocks
  • transport and storage solutions
  • materials safety and inspection technologies.

The Hydrogen Corridor project will therefore:

  • help government meet obligations under the Climate Change Act 2008 and its 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 target, and challenging air quality targets
  • develop cost-effective low-carbon energy sources and feedstocks for industry, transport and domestic fuel
  • support the development of jobs and drive economic growth within this new emerging sector and provide a route to future sustainability for the energy intensive industries.

Given the global potential growth of the sector the project has significant export potential of skills, services and products.

To ensure economic impact the partners include the regional authorities, universities, RTOs as well as industrial partners and networks partners include Leeds, Teeside and Durham universities, TWI and MPI plus commercial supports including Northern Gas Networks, British Steel, Johnson Matthey, Lotte and Semcorp with support from Lloyds Register.

North East Cluster for Healthy Ageing and Independent Living (NE-CHAIN)

Lead organisation: Newcastle University

Across the world, life expectancies are increasing. It is one of our society’s greatest achievements. However, our challenge is to not only increase the number of years that people live, but also the number of years they can enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives in an affordable, fair and socially inclusive manner. The demands of our ageing society also provide a major opportunity to develop a new, internationally competitive source of economic growth for Newcastle upon Tyne and the North East of England. This is a great new global opportunity, which Newcastle and the North East are uniquely placed to seize, as public authorities seek to provide care and welfare, and as individuals and families seek effective products, services and facilities. Not only do we have unique expertise in ageing science and innovation, and a business creation and support eco-system vertically focused on products and services for healthy and productive longer lives, but we also have an established standing community panel of consumers, patients and carers who provide speedily accessible user insights.

For many years, Newcastle University has been at the forefront of research into ageing, directly contributing to advances that are extending and improving our lives. Newcastle has more researchers working in this area than anywhere else in Europe. It has partnered with many other organisations and extended our understanding of healthy ageing beyond addressing medical conditions, to the creation of suitable environments and lifestyles. As global demand for age-related services, products and facilities increases, we will continue to develop economic opportunities through multi-faceted and inter-disciplinary innovation, involving more companies and organisations able to meet global demand. We will work within well-established partnerships to create a model cross-cutting cluster consortium of organisations committed to working to the collaborative advantage of its core community, of the health economy, and of the growth agenda of the region. The consortium will comprise universities, NHS, public and private care providers, educators, local, national and international businesses, and civil groups. It will be the focal point for accelerated growth.

These organisations will undertake collaborative, applied research and innovation in areas such as skills and inclusion, product design for connectivity and independence, design of buildings and homes, digital data collection and analytics, household goods, nutrition and active living. We will support the growing cluster and supply chain by developing new infrastructure for business development, knowledge exchange, investment and market access.

North West

AI-enabled materials chemistry across the Mersey Basin

Lead organisation: STFC – Laboratories

The chosen geography stretches from the Liverpool City Region, Cheshire and Warrington through to Greater Manchester. We refer to the area as the Mersey Basin, where the natural characteristics of the geography, such as navigable waters and access to raw materials that historically gave rise to industry clusters, are still relevant factors today. There is a number of significant sized companies within this area employing around 26,000 people (for example Unilever, NSG-Pilkington, BASF, AstraZeneca, Tata, Essar), together with a significant SME base. However, productivity (or gross value added) per job is £46,500, below the UK average of £50,800. Local supply chains are under-developed and compromise the ability to maximise impacts from innovation.

Capital assets in the area include world-class facilities for materials discovery, digital manufacturing, high performance computing and artificial intelligence (AI), all identified in the Science and Innovation Audits for Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester and Cheshire East. Key assets include: STFC Hartree Centre, University of Liverpool, IBM Research, Royce Institute, University of Manchester and the Alan Turing Institute.

Led by STFC’s Hartree Centre, working closely with the University of Liverpool as lead academic partner, this project will deliver AI tools for digital design and processing of real materials for the benefit of industries and their supply chains, so increasing the speed or decreasing the cost of highly complex materials discovery and innovation processes. We focus on five materials sub-sectors: sustainable solutions in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and packaging, smart coatings and sensors, energy, medicines and biofilms, and advanced manufacturing. Learning will be adopted from previous industry-focussed innovation programmes to develop multi-faceted solutions, including cross-cutting software assets, to address industry-led requirements.

The project will target innovation-led business growth, enabling businesses of all sizes to increase their innovation capability and accelerate the development of new materials, application testing and prototyping in a coordinated way.

A key element is the knowledge transfer and upskilling of employees in these sectors, so that the AI tools can be embedded in industrial processes (c.f. the ‘Deep Change’ Programme conceptualised in the LCR+ SIA). They will be able to re-use the same tools to design new materials, beyond the project intervention.

Downstream, materials chemistry feeds into high-value design and manufacturing processes. The intended outcome is to create an impact on c. 1,600 businesses within the area. We expect around 700 net jobs being created, and net GVA of around £50 million added annually to the Basin’s economy, helping to close the productivity gap with the UK.

Delivering integrated solutions for human infections

Lead organisation: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

There is revolution coming that will radically change the pathway to market for new antibiotics, drugs, vaccines and public health insecticides for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. While the problems of infectious disease control remain high nationally and internationally, with antimicrobial resistance (AMR), Hospital acquired infections, Zika, Ebola, TB and HIV still making headlines, the model for bringing new products to market is no longer fit for purpose.

Many companies in the Cheshire, Warrington and Liverpool City Region (LCR) are looking to consolidate their position or to re-enter this market. These include pharma and consumer product companies, the latter seeking to develop their brands and profitability by making substantiated public health claims for their products. There is also an active SME cluster, acting as early stage feeders into the product development pipeline, which is already engaged with the academic base through three successful round of MRC Confidence in Concept funding and Innovate UK funding to Liverpool and Alderly Park.

Current industry practice, using often inappropriate animal-based models until late stage development, leads to very high levels of attrition with late stage failure in phase two or phase trials or limited market access from poor product targeting. Academic groups in Liverpool are in the vanguard of developing integrated and informed approaches to product development. Improved specification of target product profiles through interrogation of human disease data at the outset and evidence based recommendations for use post license. In the middle of the development process we have safe effective and flexible human challenge models and associated technologies to de-risk expensive late phase trials. These include new validated platforms for early stage product testing and evaluation, including human nasal experimental infection and TB challenge models, that can dramatically reduce industries cost and time investments when used at an appropriate early stage in the product development cycle.

This timely formation of an LCR -based consortium will establish us as the national and international centre developing and providing industry with access to a progressive repository of methodologies and improved models for product development for infectious disease prevention and treatment. We plan to deliver these through a specialist CRO network, which is closely linked to both the academic and industrial bases in the LCR. This will generate sustainable high value jobs linked to the local science base and increase industrial productivity and profitability benefiting the region.

Yorkshire and the Humber

Energy Estuary 2.0: fuelling inclusive economic growth in the Humber

Lead organisation: University of Hull

Our vision is to create a resilient innovation driven economy taking full advantage of clean energy investments in the Humber. Innovations in energy storage, conversion, distribution and demand management will boost the regional economy, whilst a parallel programme of energy from waste and low energy innovations will engage and empower the local population, raising aspirations, developing skills and creating new ventures and jobs, as well as improving local economic and social wellbeing.

Our programme will establish the Humber Estuary as the most energy resilient region of the UK, with an engaged workforce, enhancing the area for inward investment by energy intensive industry.

In 2006 the Energy Estuary concept was created. Centred around Green Port Hull and the concept of delivering new economic value to the region, this programme was successful in bringing Siemens Gamesa offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing facility and had triggered several key investments in renewable energy from other major industries. The coordinated activities of the Green Port Hull consortium led to the creation of over 5,000 jobs, attracting over £500 million in public and private investment and generating over £70 million GVA.

The renewable energy market is rapidly expanding and diversifying into new areas, driven by research and innovation. Producing clean energy is one thing. Storing it, converting into a flexible and resilient energy ecosystem, and mobilising it intelligently to match energy production with demand, is where the future opportunities now exist. Without these developments the utility of renewable power will be critically limited, and we must urgently make progress towards an ‘energy resilient’ ecosystem if we are to make the transition to a low carbon economy and become a global force in managing energy infrastructures. The Humber region is the perfect test bed for these new and emerging technologies, driven by the future demands and interests of industry.

A consortium led by the University of Hull will take forward a programme of 10 inter-related projects. Innovations in Power generation, Energy storage, Energy management and sustainability, Skills and Systems. This programme will create the Energy Estuary 2.0 leading to 10,000 new jobs, raise local aspirations, and leverage additional GVA of £3 to 7 billion. “This bid for the UKRI Strength in Places Fund looks like a good opportunity for the consortium, and the region generally, to develop new ventures and create jobs, building on previous programmes.” – Iain Watson, Green Investment Group

The Glass Corridor – delivering world-class glass research in the Northern Powerhouse

Lead organisation: Glass Futures Ltd

Our aim is to strengthen and align existing industrial and academic expertise within the Sheffield and Leeds regions to create a globally recognised centre of excellence, or hub, in glass technology and manufacturing – the Northern Glass Corridor – which will have the capability to drive significant improvements in productivity and sustainability within the UK glass industry.

This hub will align and develop existing expertise to catalyse the development of new technologies across the glass manufacturing supply chain (raw materials, melting, forming, inspection, down-stream value-added processing, recycling and zero-carbon manufacturing of ‘carbon reducing products’ – PVs, wind-turbines and high-efficiency glazing systems).

In unifying and aligning the existing centres of glass expertise, the hub will further raise the profile of the region as a focal point enhancing cross-sectoral engagement, both nationally and internationally, strengthening the region’s capability to draw international expertise and funding into the region to drive productivity and sustainability in the regional glass sector. Over 80% of UK glass manufacturing and tier one supply chain is in this region.

The new hub will enable coordination of the existing commercial and R&D activities within the region’s glass sector, currently uncoordinated. This is envisaged through a local entity or hub (whether ‘virtual’ or ‘physical’ will be determined as part of the EoI exercise) to facilitate knowledge exchange between universities, businesses and local policy makers. The key technical expertise will remain in the current technical centres and in the new proposed Glass Futures centres. The hub will provide a focal point to align the work of these centres, work to align the expertise to industry needs, attract and leverage funding (commercial and grants) and direct training activities across the region.

The hub will form an entity to act as a focal point through which other technology centres (Sheffield Hallam, Leeds and Sheffield Universities and Glass Technology Services) across the UK can be engaged to harness relevant expertise and technology to support and commercialise developments led by partners within the Sheffield and Leeds region, and to learn from and share best practice within other industries.

This initiative will create a globally unique pool of expertise in glass technology, spanning the entire glass supply chain and manufacturing processes, that will be a magnet to attract global investment into R&D and the creation of new businesses in the Sheffield and Leeds region. Note that this initiative will serve to complement and underpin the Glass Futures initiative, and is not intended to substitute for it.

Medical technologies in the Leeds City Region: driving economic growth, improving health and care

Lead organisation: University of Leeds

There is an increasing need to develop new medical technologies, to deliver more efficient and more effective healthcare. Minimally invasive devices are being developed to reduce healthcare costs, with the promise of better outcomes and faster recovery. Digitally-enabled healthcare solutions can incorporate mobile health applications, sensor technology, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. Care in the community will be enhanced by new diagnostics, artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise personalised medicine, and improved simulation will increase customisation. Moreover, there is a significant market opportunity. Driven by a number of social, economic, technological and political factors, including an increasing and ageing population, the global market for medical technologies is forecast to grow to $529.8 billion by 2022.

Capitalising on world-leading research expertise and infrastructure in the Universities of Leeds, York, Bradford, Huddersfield and Leeds Beckett; a concentration of more than 250 companies specialising in medical technologies, and a further 200 companies operating in the digital health space; and a wider health innovation ecosystem that allows high-quality clinical research funded by charities, research funders and life-sciences industry to be undertaken throughout the NHS; this proposal focuses on the advancement of knowledge, innovation and the translation of technology to industry, and early stage clinical evaluation and the generation of evidence on novel medical device interventions within the real world health and care system.

Leeds City Region faces a number of economic challenges. Productivity, levels of employment, and private sector investment in R&D, are all below the national average. Extending our strengths is crucial if we are to realise the region’s full economic potential. Medtech has been identified as a sector priority for the region. It significantly outperforms the wider economy in terms of jobs growth and productivity. Indeed, the Leeds City Region medical technology sector generates economic output three times the regional average per filled job. Focusing on medical technology as a key strength, we expect Strength in Places Fund support to generate 9,000 additional jobs, an additional £1.55 billion turnover, and an increase of £200 million in private sector expenditure on R&D in the region by 2030.

Our vision is for the Leeds City Region to be one of the best places in the world to develop and launch innovative medical devices and diagnostics – contributing to a substantial increase in economic growth and productivity, reduced healthcare costs, enhanced levels of care, and improved patient outcomes.

East Midlands

Growing Rehabilitation Industries Project (GRIP)

Lead organisation: Loughborough University

Recent years have witnessed extraordinary advances in rehabilitation medicine and the technologies that underpin the recovery of people suffering from trauma, injury and chronic health conditions. Some of these advancements have been driven by new battlefield treatments and military contexts, while others have their roots in the requirements of the civilian population, such as the need for muscles, joints and bones to function over much longer periods as people live longer.

Capitalising on this, the UK has become a leader in the development of new medical, healthcare and technological methods, approaches and devices in this field, characterised as ‘rehabilitation and associated medical technologies’. Many of these innovations have been achieved collaboratively in world-leading East Midlands research institutions, working alongside industry and clinical partners in relevant NHS Trusts. In addition to intensive clinical interventions, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of physical activity in the treatment of chronic conditions, as well as in illness prevention, and of the critical role technology plays to inform and accelerate recovery.

The relocation of the defence rehabilitation provision from Headley Court to the new £300 million Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) at Stanford (3 miles from Loughborough) in June 2018, with an associated national (civilian) facility to follow shortly, has created a unique opportunity for the UK to harness the competitive economic advantage that its global leadership in rehabilitation medicine and technologies provides.

The Growing Rehabilitation Industries Project (GRIP) is a timely intervention, funded by UKRI through the Strength in Places Fund, which will create substantial economic growth in the Nottingham, Loughborough and Leicester area. In line with the government’s industrial strategy, rehabilitation and medical technology businesses in the area will benefit from a step change in research and innovation practices, harnessing pioneering research and industrial capability to develop new and innovative projects for local, national and international markets – creating new jobs, high quality skills and driving economic growth.

Project partners include local cutting-edge businesses (such as 3M Healthcare Ltd, Attenborough Dental and Renfrew Group International); leading Research Institutions (Universities of Loughborough, Leicester, Nottingham and Nottingham Trent); sector business groups (Medilink East Midlands and BioCity); important health providers (Nottingham University Hospitals and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trusts, DNRC, the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine and the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network) and key local partners (local enterprise partnerships and local authorities).

West Midlands

Med Tech CONNECT West Midlands (collaborative network to enable and enhance cross-sector transformation)

Lead organisation: University of Birmingham

Med-Tech CONNECT West Midlands will deliver innovation-led regional growth in medical technologies (inclusive of a broad spectrum from advanced therapies and digital technologies through to classical devices and diagnostics) in the West Midlands by leveraging our significant academic and NHS partnerships and infrastructure, and connecting businesses to our proven manufacturing and digital tech base to deliver a well-connected regional ecosystem which:

  • leverages outstanding academic and clinical innovation
  • creates new shared assets and accelerated access to quality-assured legal, regulatory and financial support
  • fosters multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral skills programmes
  • integrates key emerging technologies and legacy industrial strengths to create a step-change in industrial capability and productivity, reaching a nationally and internationally competitive level.

There is clear evidence that the potential exists within the West Midlands to grow a nationally-leading innovation cluster around med-tech. This was recognised by both the West Midlands Science and Innovation Audit and the UK’s life sciences industrial strategy, which highlight the significant regional patient base and leading clinical trials capabilities as an ideal location for future university, NHS and industry collaboration.

Working directly with companies within the sector and wider value chain (for example manufacturing, digital, professional and other service companies) we have identified a set of critical barriers to overcome in order to stimulate additional sector growth by establishing enhanced support systems to help businesses develop, scale and commercialise new medical technologies solutions, including:

    • regional prototyping capabilities to enable early-stage development of medical technologies for trial
    • ethical and appropriate access to patient data across the clinical, academic and industry interface – allowing effective and cost-efficient product and clinical trial design
    • a networked hub of cross-sector expertise (incl. advanced manufacturing, bioprocessing and health data linkage and analysis as well as economic modelling) to connect businesses to accessible, industry-facing co-creation and co-learning spaces
    • the face-to-face support needed to address IP, regulatory, and access to finance barriers that SMEs need to accelerate their development pathways –
      here we will establish master service agreements with legal or IP firms to create low-cost, quality-assured support for SMEs
    • enhanced regulatory support
    • an integrated network of business angels or venture capitalists – establishing financial breathing space to support innovation adoption within SMEs.

Through our collaboration between four local universities, our regionally-integrated NHS network, the HVM-Catapult, local businesses, industry bodies and policymakers, we will create a networked ecosystem to help companies cost-effectively create and accelerate new technologies through the development process.

By doing this, Med-Tech CONNECT West Midlands will grow a medical technologies cluster rivalling leading UK centres of excellence and driving significant local economic growth.

South West

Cyber Wales and West

Lead organisation: University of Bristol

Digital technologies have pervaded every aspect of our lives, economy and society, they are driving economic growth, yet create new risks that we have to understand and manage.

This project aligns and connect the regions critical-infrastructure cyber security strengths with the growing cyber business clusters, creating a world leading cyber innovation ecosystem, with academic talent pumps, unique test-bed platforms and business growth infrastructure, acting as a magnet to propel new business creation and attracting cyber businesses to the region. Importantly, we will lift overall productivity and GVA in communities that are falling behind the UK in economic performance by scaling-up a successful Bristol model of community enterprise engagement and training that will provide pathways to high value jobs and enterprise creation.

Our model will drive economic growth by capitalising on a world-beating cluster of research and business investment, but in a way that achieves inclusive growth, enabling all of our communities to benefit from the cyber cluster. Together we will work with the untapped potential of underperforming areas and left behind communities to drive inclusive economic change and exploit new cyber opportunities that will be enhanced by this approach. This will add value to industry by bringing new insights into the growing cyber markets, support the renewal of how the universities deliver impact through work with communities and business in more diverse communities, and work with user groups that will add a new dimension to research and innovation, differentiating the UK from overseas competition.

This partnership will:

  • support establishing new business growth and enterprise facilities
  • support basic training and provision of specialist up-skilling activities
  • grow capacity for world class research
  • create unique large-scale research platforms aimed at the cybersecurity challenges of infrastructure systems
  • develop an industrial cyber super-cluster
  • harness the diversity of experience, talent, insight and entrepreneurial skill from all parts of our community.

The industry focused Test Bed will allow for real time virtualisation, dynamically coalescing physical and simulated cyber environments, enabling identification of the appropriate assets to protect. It is imperative that the UK invests in creating an internationally significant research and innovation ecosystem that addresses these challenges. Our thinking global and acting local approach to the creation of an inclusive economic cluster, addresses the deep social and technical challenges facing the creation and adoption of new cyber technologies and security, adds a new dimension that will put the region ahead of global competition.

The Environmental Intelligence Accelerator

Lead organisation: University of Exeter

The Environmental Intelligence Accelerator builds on the South West’s globally recognised strengths in Environmental Science and Digital Innovation; exploiting the power within data to optimise environmentally-related decision making. Through enhanced capacity to undertake innovation activities, translational research and skills transfer it will remove barriers to commercial exploitation and ensure the South West leads the development of a global market for environmental intelligence solutions worth over £100 billion each year. These solutions will underpin global economic markets such as Energy, Infrastructure and Health; encouraging inward investment and expanding existing partnerships with global organisations from across the private and public sector. Over five years, this will create 1000 new jobs and £78 million additional GVA ongoing.

A changing climate, and requirement to transition to a low-carbon economy, means that businesses and governments increasingly need to use environmentally-related information in their operations. For example, mitigating risks, such as damage to property by natural hazards; optimising opportunities for growth, such as renewable power generation; and reducing negative impact on the environment, including reducing pollutants.

Development of ‘environmental intelligence’ involves the collection, integration, analysis and communication of multiple types of data and information from many different sources and domains. Rapid advances in technology, data availability and digital applications such as artificial intelligence, sometimes referred to as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, offer unprecedented opportunities to transform the market for this type of information.

Led by University of Exeter, in partnership with Met Office, University of Plymouth, Falmouth University, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Rothamsted Research, the Accelerator will provide leadership and a collaborative focal point in the region. A £30 million project, leveraging tens of millions of co-investment, it will work alongside hundreds of organisations within and outside of the region, generating growth in regional markets associated with environmental monitoring and data generation, environmental analytics, software production and environmental consultancy, and supporting take-up of Environmental Intelligence in markets of critical regional importance such as marine, health and agri-food.

The Accelerator includes:

  • 50 developers and applied researchers working alongside partners from around the world to address challenges in the development of environmental intelligence solutions
  • a ‘Smart South West’ Challenge Fund – supporting private sector entrepreneurs seeking to test environmental sensors in the South West, creating an open-data network for entrepreneurs in the region
  • a data and infrastructure fund supporting implementation of technologies to improve access to the data and skills required to develop environmental intelligence solutions.

My World

Lead organisation: University of Bristol

My World builds on the production, technology and research strengths across Bristol and Bath to create a globally unique proposition for screen-based media. The key dynamics for consumers are increased immersion in high quality imagery, increased personalisation and increased availability. The world I want to see is ‘my world’ individually and globally. While emerging immersive formats offer enormous potential, they also present innovation and perceptual challenges which are stalling investment. By creating a new relationship between R&D and production, developing talent and inward investment, we will deliver the vision of a vibrant creative cluster outlined by Bazalgette and others.

My World will focus on the interrelationships between content creation, delivery and consumption, particularly in the context of emerging immersive media formats and technologies. My World builds on a world-leading team of partners that will deliver a pipeline of prototype productions, methodologies and technologies, based on a backbone of new infrastructure, fundamental research programmes and R&D collaborations that will transition our region from one the best in the UK to the best in the world. This funding will amplify and accelerate the current strengths, provide additionality through integrated academic-industry collaboration, and produce a cogent Business Plan for the growth of the GVA and employment generated by the cluster.

My World will focus on enhancing collaborations, accessibility, knowledge and innovation. It will create accessible infrastructure – major new facilities will be developed with an operational structure to seamlessly support both commercial and research usage. It will build a frame work for sustainable R&D investment at all levels, from more basic collaborative research through industrial R&D to pre-production prototyping and demonstration. Investment from our partner universities will provide advanced training programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels developed collaboratively with our cluster partners. This will feed an extensive knowledge exchange programme that will enable us to better share expertise in our cluster. This will further extend to the general public – promoting the sector and addressing equality and diversity and also running internationally leading events and showcases. We will, build on our status as UNESCO City of Film and Green Hollywood. These initiatives will promote growth, attract inward investment and internationalise our offering. Finally, few sectors can match the translational potential of the creative sector. Through our partners in aerospace, architecture, and health we will explore the potential of these opportunities and provide a funding stream to support this.

Greater London

Performing Productivity: screen, stage and the performing arts for economic growth in the Thames Estuary Production Corridor

Lead organisation: University of the Arts London

The experience economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999) is rapidly overtaking and breaking down the divide between traditional models of production and consumption, with the creative industries positioned at the forefront of this revolution. In this age of transition in cultural production, and with increased recognition of the economic growth potential of industrial creative endeavour, the UK could benefit from a more expansive understanding of – and investment in – the wider performing arts and their technology-driven progress.

As an industry, performance encompasses: screen and its multi-modal variants, stage, public space, exhibition and retail activity – live and recorded formats, supported by a gamut of sub-industries including film, television, online entertainment, games, contemporary theatre and performance design, advertising, hospitality and commerce. The core industry is supported and serviced by a range of technical and craft practices including: CGI, VFX, AR, VR, MR, post-production, sound and lighting, costume design, cosmetic science and scenography. Equally crucial to success and growth in the performance industry is the support of visitor economy organisations – from national tourism promotion bodies and local marketing and advertising and post production agencies, to venues and hospitality provision. The scope and scale of the stage, screen and performing arts economy is incredibly complex and remains largely under-researched in the UK context: a significant barrier to industry-led R&D activity.

This seed-funded project would therefore facilitate a wholescale consideration of the potential for R&D activity (leading to economic growth and productivity gains) across these areas, and develop an ambitious bid to build, trial and deliver entirely novel performance experiences for audiences in the Thames Estuary Production Corridor. This project brings businesses from the screen, stage and tech sector – and the organisations supporting their supply chain – together with academic researchers and government leaders. The diversity of the sector necessitates extensive engagement and co-design in order to ensure that the ultimate project meets the needs of an industry comprising businesses operating across product and service economies throughout the Thames Estuary Production Corridor. Therefore, the seed-funded component of the project will formally convene R&D co-design sessions in Stratford, Barking, Dagenham, Essex and Kent – together with initial primary research exercises to establish a sector-specific evidence base on which to build work programmes.

East of England

Realising economic potential from agricultural (and horticultural) yield – REPAY

Lead organisation: University of Essex

This project will for the first time bring together researchers industry and primary producers from across the broad East of England region. It aims to capitalise on the nationally and internationally cutting edge through to practical applied research in the region.

The Realising Economic Potential from Agricultural and horticultural Yield (REPAY) programme will provide agri-tech support in the East of England to create growth and improve resilience of produce growers that will also provide benefit related supply chain within food and manufacturing sectors within the region. Our partnership will within this remit look at 10 key thematic areas targeted to improve productivity and reduce waste in order to increase margins within these industries and enable higher-value employment.

Currently there is intense activity within this space both in large industry and SMEs that are targeting sustainable improvements in outputs and in significant changes in cropping methodologies and outputs — right through to use of crop co-products, reduced waste and enabling a circular bio economy. Such changes include potential for significant improvements in photosynthetic rates; resource use efficiency and use of integrated crop management know-how and infrastructure; use of sensors and ‘big data’ along with novel robotics and other engineering solutions; improved agronomy techniques and bringing these principles together to enable changes in supply chain and processing considerations.

There is also the need to understand and change aspects of the relationship between producers, legislators and consumers; sometimes these components can work against each other to the detriment of all. In this context, the project is underpinned by financial experts, sources of advice and social science considerations that impact on economic realisation of technological advances and innovation.

Led by the University of Essex, the partnership has the full support of South East LEP, Essex County Council and Herts LEP. The programme builds on a recently published science and technology audit which cites agri-tech as a key strength in the area. Outputs enabled by the initiative will lead to higher-paid more technically interesting jobs within the sector, an improvement in self-sufficiency with respect to salad and fresh produce in the Uk, which is largely produced in our region. A major second output will be creation of new knowledge based start-up and growth in existing businesses active in the agri-tech area that will produce goods services and knowledge that is also relevant for deployment elsewhere in the UK and beyond.

Supply Chain 4.0 Southeast Midlands Hub of Excellence

Lead organisation: Cranfield University

Supply Chain 4.0 South East Midlands Hub of Excellence is established to serve large companies and SMEs in South East Midlands by offering the logistics and supply chain knowledge and expertise of Cranfield University as well as by providing a test bed for new ideas to improve their supply chain processes and operations by introducing automation in logistics and supply chain processes, exploiting predictive analytics to better match supply with demand, aligning operations to cope with batch-size one (the term for high degree of customisation) and using the latest technologies such as drones and autonomous robots for last mile delivery, augmented reality for warehouse operations like order picking, and state-of-the-art algorithms for distribution centre layout design.

Its services will range from predictive, prescriptive, and cognitive analytics to skills development for large companies and SMEs in Supply Chain 4.0; which represents the digitalisation of supply chain operations and leveraging big data for better prediction and decision making, aiming to increase the productivity and competitiveness of the companies in the region. The Hub will be equipped with high-performance computers that can run large-scale optimisation and simulation models as well as machine learning algorithms and will have staff who can transfer the knowledge into practice by enabling the Hub’s stakeholders to increase their Supply Chain 4.0 capabilities. The Hub will offer companies in the region a test bed for experimenting with innovative ideas around drone deliveries, driverless vehicles, or autonomous robots and assessing these experiments with big data analytics capabilities. The Hub will be developing expert systems for logistics operations and evaluating the potential take-up of technologies and innovations based on current and predicted demand in the next few years.

South East

Growing Kent and Medway

Lead organisation: NIAB EMR

The Growing Kent and Medway cluster will create a world-class research, innovation and enterprise platform to develop Kent and Medway (K&M) as the UK’s leading region for the production and processing of high-value foods and plant-based compounds.

Our unique geographical location means we are home to the vast majority of the UK’s high-value horticultural production, and a gateway to global markets. The growth opportunity is significant. However, productivity in the region is under-performing, notably through a lack of investment in research and innovation capacity, loss of knowledge-based workers and an increasing skills gap across all levels. This is in stark contrast to other regions in the UK where investment in these areas has led to significant economic uplift and prosperity driven by research and business-led collaboration.

The building blocks are already here to grow our regional excellence in horticulture, enhance the wider research and business ecosystem and drive innovation and productivity throughout the agri-food supply chain. In doing so, Growing K&M will deliver sustainable economic and social benefits to a region that has some of the most deprived areas in England.

The consortium comprising three excellent research partners (NIAB EMR, NRI/University of Greenwich, University of Kent), an ‘Outstanding’ FE college (Hadlow) and four large agri-food companies (with a combined turnover of around £850 million), is backed by strong support from the wider civic and business communities The collaboration increases world-class research capacity and co-invested industry engagement to drive innovation, commercialisation and novel training programmes.

Growing K&M will deliver a package of distinctively branded activities:

  • entrepreneurship – building a vibrant, supportive environment in which new businesses can develop and thrive
  • food, society and productivity growth – engaging with the wider community to encourage social enterprise in the production and processing of nutritious food
  • research and Innovation – using world-class research to drive innovation and commercialisation of technologies for climate-smart food production, novel crops and plant compounds, and post-harvest technologies for value-addition and waste minimisation.

Success will be evidenced through increased business creation and growth, inward private investment, skills development for technical and knowledge-based workers, creation of new high-value jobs, and increased production of globally-relevant plant-based, food and agri-tech products. The project addresses the increasing gap in agricultural productivity growth rates between the UK and other developed nations by enhancing the environment for agri-tech innovation. It will re-dress the imbalances in the UK’s research and innovation landscape thereby delivering significant economic uplift in the K&M region.

NOTEThis is the first phase of our new website – let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.