The government, through Innovate UK, has launched a competition amongst small businesses to pioneer innovations that will ‘keep Britain at the forefront of the global aerospace market’ with a prize of £10 million for the winner. Innovate UK is the operating name of the UK’s Technology Strategy Board who are tasked with driving sustained economic growth through innovation.
The announcement has coincided with the opening of the £60 million Aerospace Research Centre and National Centre for Net Shape and Additive Manufacturing in Coventry.
Image courtesy of MTC
Jointly funded by government and industry, the aerospace centre will allow companies to develop next generation aerospace components such as lightweight carbon fibre for use in planes, jet engines and civil helicopters. The 3D printing centre will allow researchers to develop and test new products for engines and landing gear, as well as automotive and medical devices.
Presently the UK is second only to the US in the aerospace market and this investment, as well as a multi-million pound investment in ongoing projects will go towards maintaining that standing. According to Business Minister Anna Soubry there are 45,000 aircraft and 40,000 helicopters on order and to be delivered between now and 2032 which represents $5 trillion, with billions of that making its way into the UK economy.
In addition to the competition, £5 million is being given to a consortium led by Meggitt to research new techniques and technologies in aircraft factory production. Further investment is being made in Spirit AeroSystems, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Aeromet who will receive £6.4m to look into advanced automated assembly technologies. UTC Aerospace Systems working with AMRC has secured £4.4m.
Airbus, which has manufacturing operations in Broughton, Flintshire, was another beneficiary of the funding hand outs, receiving £7.2 million to research ways to remove imperfections on wing surfaces. This coincides with technologies elsewhere being developed to improve aircraft performance and reduce emissions.
Airbus A380 - Image courtesy of Airbus
This influx of cash to the aerospace industry comes as reassurance to many but it seems that the government is committed to driving new technologies and new industries to move industry in the UK in to sustainable and profitable markets.
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