Posted: December 3, 2009

UK government offers GBP 5 million prize in unique advanced manufacturing competition

(Nanowerk News) The UK Government-backed Technology Strategy Board is to manage a unique competition that will see a £5 million (∼ $8.3 million) prize awarded to British business to develop innovative composite manufacturing techniques for high-performance, high-value products.
The three-stage Grand Challenge, managed by the Technology Strategy Board on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), will see British companies receive funding for feasibility studies, with the best being invited to develop and test their concept before the winning proposal is awarded the £5 million prize.
Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, who launched the competition today alongside a UK Composites Strategy said:
"Any modern economy is built on the ability to exploit the opportunities on offer by new and existing high value markets - such as composites.
"Our approach is now to back areas of the economy which have the biggest potential to create wealth and jobs and take advantage of the skills of our people.
"Today's new strategy will help us to exploit the potential of composite materials which could help us lower carbon emissions, make cost savings by making things which last longer and boost our position globally making the UK the place to produce and develop composites."
"Government has an irreplaceable role in ensuring that the right conditions are in place to support long term growth. This means investing in the county's high-tech low carbon future including supporting and investing in composites. "
Explaining the background to the competition, Dr John Morlidge, Lead Technologist for Advanced Materials at the Technology Strategy Board, said:
"Advanced manufacturing, which uses technologically-complex products and processes, is increasingly aiming to exploit the benefits of advanced materials, such as fibre-reinforced polymer matrix composites. It is important that UK industry capitalises on the unique properties of advanced composites and seizes the opportunities from a growing global market. Aircraft wings and wind turbine blades are just two examples of the kind of advanced products that could benefit from more affordable advanced manufacturing techniques."
"The lack of cost-effective and rapid manufacturing processes is recognised worldwide as a major barrier to the commercial exploitation of composites across all sectors," Dr Morlidge added, "This Grand Challenge will enable a range of innovative approaches to be explored and shared across UK industry, offering British companies the chance to become world leaders in this area."
The Grand Challenge should help the UK composites industry to develop techniques and processes that will produce potentially high-value products such as, for example, automotive components, aircraft wings, large wind turbine blades and process equipment able to operate in demanding or difficult conditions.
British companies interested in taking part in the Grand Challenge will need to move quickly - initial ideas must be submitted to the Technology Strategy Board by 18 December.
Source: Technology Strategy Board