11 Aug 2022

Sustainable manufacturing research partnership launched

MTC partnership
Front (l-r): Dr Clive Hickman, chief executive, MTC, and Professor Stephen Jarvis, head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham. Back: Heather Clarke, non executive director, MTC, and Professors Clive Roberts and Karl Dearn, University of Birmingham

A new research group aimed at leading a sustainable manufacturing revolution has been jointly launched by The Manufacturing Technology Centre and the University of Birmingham.

Following the landmark National Manufacturing Summit at the MTC which looked at the implications of a net zero future, the group will bring together the expertise of each institution across the research and development and product development lifecycle and working with a range of industrial partners will establish a world-leading research group focused on the de-carbonisation of the manufacturing sector.

The group will see researchers working across the MTC and the University of Birmingham, as well as with industrial partners to apply fundamental science, engineering and thought leadership to transform the sector through sustainable future growth.

The group will include a new Chair in Sustainable Manufacturing and five research fellows. It will lead research in the field of manufacturing engineering with a focus on sustainable and de-carbonising processes including:

  • Intelligent manufacturing
  • Lifecycle analysis
  • Data-driven predictive manufacturing
  • Manufacturing digital twins
  • Product control and management
  • Cyber-physical embedded systems and industrial internet of things
  • Industrial photonics

MTC chief executive Dr Clive Hickman said: “As an organisation, the MTC is prioritising support for sustainable manufacturing as a key factor in the delivery of net zero. We believe that the sector should have the benefit of a specific funding pot for net zero manufacturing as part of a Government Manufacturing Strategy. This would align the Government’s net zero priority with the manufacturing sector and ensure UK manufacturing is capable of realising the innovation and other economic opportunities it brings.”

He added: “The new joint research group will help the development of the next generation of green manufacturing to deliver clean growth. The overall impact on society of a green manufacturing sector is considerable.”

Professor Stephen Jarvis, Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: “The de-carbonisation of manufacturing is a significant global energy challenge and one which we will need to address is we are to meet our 2050 net-zero goals. The opportunities and potential impact of this partnership are immense and it is fitting that this initiative launches in the Midlands, a region recognised worldwide for its industrial heritage.”

The group will split its time between the two institutions, ensuring fundamental research is translated into applied innovation, using both the MTC’s and the University’s world-class facilities, expertise and contacts. The research group further demonstrates the investment in engineering at the University of Birmingham and will be based at the University’s state-of-the-art £85m engineering complex, which includes the new School of Engineering, the world-class centre for rail research and education (UKRRIN), and the National Buried Infrastructure Facility.

The new collaboration builds on the University’s well-established partnership with the MTC in manufacturing technology and materials and signals the intent of both institutions to collaborate on a number of world-leading manufacturing initiatives.

The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.

The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.