Alongside the news that the British economy has expanded for the 11th month in a row, the Government are searching for ways to sustain this growth, and have decided on an investment scheme for electronic design and manufacture.
According to Markit and the Manufacturing Purchasers index, the index score is up to 56.9; which is significantly higher than the predicted score of 56.5 for this month. Jobs in the manufacturing sector grew at their highest rate since 2011 and, considering manufacturing makes up 10% of Britain's economy, this is a sign that the economy as a whole is recovering promisingly.
This week, the UK government has agreed that the Technology Strategy board will set aside a maximum of £4.75 million to help fund collaborative Research & Development and feasibility studies. The Government hopes this will stimulate innovation and growth in the manufacture of electronic systems in the UK.
The board will fund projects that explore novel manufacturing processes which could lead to new ways of making products in the future. The Technology Strategy board are hoping that early exploitation of innovative manufacturing processes will improve competitiveness by enhancing functionality, reducing size or cost, adapting form and enabling rapid scale-up.
They are seeking business-led collaborative research & development and will fund their business partner 50% of their project costs through public funding. They will publicly fund 60% of projects if they are led by small/medium enterprises. The collaborative research & development projects are expected to cost up to £500k, and they should last between 12 and 24 months.
Designers can also propose feasibility projects which must be business led and can be either solely directed or collaborative. For these pre-industrial research projects, business partners may be awarded 65% of their funding budget or 75% if they are small/medium enterprises. Percentages are granted for feasibility research because they are expected to cost more, as they include creating prototypes and experimenting with materials.
Business and partnerships can register for a bid by noon on 26 March 2014 through the Technology Strategy Board Community Network. You can also register your interest in collaborative R&D projects by noon on 2nd April 2014.
This government initiative to help enterprises and research bodies develop new forms of electronic manufacture is great news for the economy, and indeed all parties involved in the UK manufacturing industry. According to the government, the UK has more than 5,500 companies that design and manufacture electronic systems, which contribute around £78bn a year to the UK economy. Investing in this industry will be beneficial to many businesses, including component manufacturers like us here at European Springs, as many of our micro Compression Springs and torsion springs are used in electronic devices to support integral mechanisms.