CPI provides £2.3m funding to help SMEs in UK North East utilize additive manufacturing

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), a UK technology and innovation centre, has launched a new project giving SMEs in the North East access to a £2.3 million funding pot to help develop new products and processes utilizing additive manufacturing technology. 

Known as the IMPACT project, the scheme aims to provide these SMEs with access to 3D printing innovation facilities, as well as expertise in bringing new products to market within the additive manufacturing industry. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), IMPACT will run until 31st March 2021. 

“The IMPACT project offers a considerable amount of valuable support for companies,” explains Rachel Squires, Business Development Manager at CPI. 

“We aim to create a tailored package of work alongside expert advice to help SMEs realise their product development faster and at lower risk.”

Graphe lab at CPI. Photo via CPI.
Graphe lab at CPI. Photo via CPI.

The Centre for Process Innovation

Founded in 2004 by the UK Government agency ONE NorthEast, CPI was established alongside five other centres of excellence in a long-term strategy to develop the North East of England’s R&D output. The company is headquartered in Redcar & Cleveland, with six innovation facilities set up across northern England and Scotland. 

CPI aims to bring together academia, businesses, government and investors to develop new ideas and research into the marketplace. The company connects its customers to a network of experts, equipment, facilities, groups, funding and more, in order to facilitate technology innovation, and help ideas become successfully marketed products or processes. 

CPI’s new project will support the development of innovative products and processes through additive manufacturing. The IMPACT project, along with the £2.3 million funding pot, is only available for SMEs in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) region which covers County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland. These companies will be provided with facilities and expertise, in order to support the SMEs in manufacturing products using minimal processing. 

CPI's National Printable Electronics Centre in Newton Aycliffe. Photo via CPI.
CPI’s National Printable Electronics Centre in Newton Aycliffe. Photo via CPI.

A significant goal of the IMPACT project is to increase the number of high-tech SMEs in the NELEP region. CPI will therefore promote the ambition to integrate SMEs using additive manufacturing into relevant supply chains. Companies will be provided with the materials knowledge and processing platforms, allowing them to build their own technological capabilities. 

NELEP SMEs can also apply for technical support to help create innovative products, allowing their business to grow, and increasing the employment opportunities and GDP within the area. As part of the project, SMEs will gain access to CPI’s business services, product and process development assets and expertise, as well as its printable electronics, formulation preparation, precision deposition and characterisation facilities. Ultimately, CPI envisages long-term relationships with these SMEs

“This [project] will lead to new products and processes reaching the market and will benefit the region through the creation of new job opportunities to enrich the local economy,” adds Squires.

Funding for additive manufacturing in the UK

Another funding initiative established to help the UK leverage additive manufacturing came in 2017, when £556 million of the UK’s budget was shared among regions in the North of England. The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) received the money under the British government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative, which sought to move the UK’s economy away from London, and prepare the country for Industry 4.0.

Furthermore, the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has also recently announced a funding package that will support PhD research and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) across the UK – including research supporting the advance of additive manufacturing. The total package amounts to £832 million. 

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Featured image shows Graphene lab at CPI. Photo via CPI.