£25m drive to confront turbulent manufacturing supply chains rallies industry

2 min read

A £25m industry-led programme to tackle supply chain woes head-on has opened applications to businesses and academia across the UK.

Led by Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub will create a community of large businesses, technology startups and academics to advance the development and adoption of cutting-edge digital technology. The four-year project will address the critical supply chain challenges facing UK business and industry, from supply and demand imbalances, to risk and resilience and the move to net zero. 

Part of the Made Smarter Innovation initiative to supercharge UK manufacturing industries, and backed by industry leaders, the Digital Supply Chain Hub will provide much needed improvements in data sharing and analysis for manufacturers, allowing them to quickly and accurately target supply chain bottlenecks and pinpoint unnecessary waste.

Applications are now open until 03 July with up to £40,000 in funding for research challenges, and up to £80,000 for technology led opportunities. The companies selected to join the Hub will access industry and technical support, and work together with industry challenge sponsors including BAE Systems and Schneider Electric.

Tim Lawrence, MSI|DSCH programme director, said: “Digital Catapult has extensive experience developing powerful ecosystems of partners from across sectors, as well as a strong track record in providing capabilities and facilities that offer real hands-on technology experience for businesses. 

“This programme will ensure the UK’s supply chains are equipped for a new digital era. We look forward to welcoming organisations and academia who wish to be part of this vital movement to streamline supply chains.”

Industry Minister Lee Rowley said: "This government-backed programme will help increase productivity by digitising supply chains and ensure our manufacturers remain competitive, providing jobs and growth throughout the country.

"The Digital Supply Chain Hub will help businesses the length and breadth of the UK to develop smarter digital supply chains - reducing manufacturing waste, emissions, and helping get new products on our shelves more efficiently.”

The Hub’s first set of calls will see applications from innovative UK technology startups, scaleups and pioneering research organisations to relieve ongoing supply chain pressures. The challenge themes will bring together parties that might otherwise not have collaborated. 

The first five challenges briefs are: 

  • Proof of value technology solutions to address: Supply chain sustainability, supply chain mapping, and supply and demand imbalances.
  • Research frameworks and models to address: Supply chain resilience and collaboration.

Chris Courtney, challenge director manufacturing Made Smarter at UKRI, said: “The resilience and sustainability of supply chains is vital to all of us and accelerating digital innovation is a critical enabler for the future of supply chains. The Hub brings together innovators and investors to increase the pace of innovation, giving opportunities both for those who leverage the technology and those that develop it. This is a national cross sector approach led by Digital Catapult and we are excited to launch it formally and encourage companies across the UK to engage with it.” 

The Digital Supply Chain Hub is funded by the Made Smarter Innovation (MSI) challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and is a collaboration with the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and TWI.

The programme launch follows Digital Catapult research which highlights that strengthening supply chains is a priority for nearly two thirds (64%) of UK manufacturing leaders this year. 

To learn more about the programme and explore all the opportunities the hub offers visit digitalsupplychainhub.uk/