The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy has lead to a commitment of £14.7 million investment to develop 3D printing projects, UK Business Secretary Vince Cable announced yesterday. The Technology Strategy Board, and Research Councils are investing £8.4 million into the projects, alongside an additional £6.3 million of private investment.
Mr Cable said: “Investing in tomorrow’s technology will bring jobs and economic growth throughout the UK. That’s why last month the Government announced the biggest ever investment in the work of the Technology Strategy Board. With £440 million of funding they will support new manufacturing techniques to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in technology and design. This joint investment with the Research Councils highlights the commitment from across the sector to boost manufacturing in the UK.”
Rhetoric aside, this relatively small investment may well go a long way to aid the UK’s ailing manufacturing sector, which has seemingly lapsed since the 1980’s strategic shift to services. The projects that are being funded will last between one and three years. Project winners include: Renishaw 3D printed cranio-facial implants; JRI Orthopaedics 3D printed hip joints and surgical instruments; and FDM Digital Solution’s custom insoles.
This is the UK’s equivalent to the USA’s announcement of USD$70million (private and government combined investment) NAMMI and a related USD$200million Advanced Manufacturing Investment. It is also strategically comparable to China’s recent announcement of 10 new Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Institutions.
The UK’s economy does, of course, pale in comparison to the GDP/PPP of the global economic hyper-powers of the EU, US and China; or, indeed, rising economic superpowers such as Brazil and India; but, with conscious investment even in dire economic times such as these, this, speculatively, may be a well placed strategic kick-start alongside other initiatives, as part of the UK government’s ‘Plan for Growth.’
The Technology Strategy Board has awarded grants totalling £7.6 million. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will provide funding of £485,000 to support the involvement of academic institutions in four of the projects, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will provide funding of £133,000 to support the involvement of academic institutions in one of the projects, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will provide funding of £178,000 to support the involvement of academic institutions in two of the projects. The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products.