By Max Clarke

A £51 million investment will be announced in next week's 2011 Budget to ensure the UK stays at the leading edge of manufacturing research was unveiled today by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.

The announcement forms part of the Advanced Manufacturing strand of the Government’s Growth Review and will help stimulate growth through research in the most promising areas of manufacturing including pharmaceuticals, aerospace and the automotive industry. Funding for science research programmes was ring-fences and protected in the recent Spending Review.

£45 million will fund nine Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centres for Innovative Manufacturing and a further £6 million will support the manufacturing pioneers of the future.

The national centres, run by universities including Nottingham, Cranfield and Strathclyde, will focus on emerging science including biological pharmaceuticals, novel composite technologies, and intelligent automation, helping generate the new ideas that will fuel growth.

A High-Value Manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC), also announced today, will play a key role in taking the research from the EPSRC Centres to the next stage of the innovation chain.

“These centres will increasingly be essential drivers of innovation, opportunity and national prosperity. They will combine inventive research and business acumen to develop the high-tech manufacturing industries we need to secure sustainable growth.” Said David Willetts.

Minister for Business and Enterprise Mark Prisk said:
“Manufacturing generates £140 billion a year for the economy and accounts for 55 per cent of total UK exports. And increasingly, it is high tech, advanced manufacturing that leads the way.

"But we need to do more to rebalance our economy. These exciting new partnerships between our universities and businesses will play a vital role in keeping UK manufacturing ahead of the game internationally.”

The EPSRC centres and are backed by leading industry partners including GSK, Rolls-Royce, IBM and a range of high-tech small and medium sized enterprises.

The nine new EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing include: Cranfield University’s Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Ultra Precision Surfaces, the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing for Industrial Sustainability and the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Through Life Engineering Services; Loughborough University’s Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing and the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Intelligent Automation; The University of Strathclyde’s EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation; The University of Huddersfield’s EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Advanced Metrology.

Manufacturing pioneers of the future will be supported via a £6 milion programme of new EPSRC Manufacturing Fellowships which aim to forge more effective links between business and research.

The five year Fellowships will provide support for at least six exceptional engineers and technology specialists from business who are able to bridge university and industrial cultures and who have the potential to transform UK research and manufacturing. Each Fellow will lead a £1 million programme of research.

A High-Value Manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC), also announced today, will play a key role in taking the research from the EPSRC Centres to the next stage of the innovation chain.

All manufacturing policies proposals from the Growth Review will be announced by Budget 2011.