The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced a data innovation hub and testbed that will be run by Ulster University. The Hub is a £50 million investment and will see UK manufacturers having their competitive and productivity boosted in digital technologies. Industry Minister Lee Rowley announced this week that the Smart Manufacturing Data Hub (SMDH) will support small and medium size manufacturers to capture and better utilise their data, helping them increase productivity, growth and sustainability.
Nearly 10,000 manufacturers are expected to benefit from the hub and 13,000 jobs will be supported, helping to boost economic growth and level-up regions across the UK. The hub will be supported by £20 million from the UK Government-backed Made Smarter Innovation Programme, along with £30 million of business co-investment.
The SMDH will first be accessible by small and medium size manufacturers in Northern Ireland in the coming months, before going live for companies across the rest of the UK. The programme will be supported across the rest of the UK by 12 delivery partners, including the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing, Industry Wales and Scottish Engineering.
The funding comes as part of the £300 million Made Smarter Innovation Challenge, a collaboration between UK government and industry designed to support the development and increased use of new and existing industrial digital technologies, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
This week’s announcement builds on the government’s Help to Grow schemes, which are helping smaller businesses to boost their productivity with training and software “that is proven to get results”.