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From Productivity to Prosperity in the West Midlands

Working with Warwick Business School and City-REDI at the University of Birmingham, we're examining the factors that constrain firm-level innovation and productivity across the region, with a particular focus on the role of skills shortages, the importance of supply chains and impacts of foreign direct investment.

We're collaborating with regional stakeholders, including the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Midlands Engine, five Local Enterprise Partnerships and private sector firms including Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin. More widely, the project will connect with the CBI - building on their recent productivity work- the Chambers of Commerce, TUC and Unite.

As well as contributing to the local industrial strategy the project will examine trade-offs between policies and practices which target improvements in productivity against other development goals.

GEFCO Supply Chain Innovation Hub

Partnering with GEFCO, our Innovation Hub focuses on the future of automotive supply chains, the dual challenges of electrification and using and reusing resources for as long as possible.

The hub is closely linked to the EPSRC Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Warwick.

Two projects are looking at new circular business models for the supply, refurbishment and re-use of batteries for the electric automotive supply chain, and the use of new technologies to design fully-traceable and re-usable packaging. A third project is examining the opportunities for logistics service providers to expand their business models to offer supply chain finance complimentary to out-sourcing of material and information flows.

Supply Chains in Practice

We hold a range of free to attend Supply Chains in Practice (SCiP) Networking Events throughout the year. These aim to encourage cross-fertilisation of promising practice and to facilitate the spread of ideas, with delegates representing supply chain practitioners across multiple industries.

Our quarterly networking events provide a forum for roundtable discussion, on key issues in supply chain management, including upcoming trends and challenges. Register to attend...

SUSTAIN

We're part of a £35 million research network of steelmakers and University experts working together on a seven-year research programme to transform the UK steel sector.

The network, called SUSTAIN, is to transform the whole steel supply chain, making it cleaner, greener and smarter, and more responsive to the fast-changing needs of customers. Its work will be concentrated on two areas:

Zero waste iron and steelmaking, with the aim of making the industry carbon-neutral by 2040: Steel is already the world’s most recycled material, but the network will investigate new ways of making the industry’s processes and products even greener, such as harvesting untapped energy sources, capturing carbon emissions and re-processing societal and industrial waste streams.

Smart steel processing: like any 21st century industry, steelmaking involves masses of data. SUSTAIN will develop new ways of acquiring and using this data to improve the steels produced as well as in new metallurgical processes, which can deliver bespoke high tech products.

Transforming Construction Network Plus

The Transforming Construction Network Plus

With £1m to invest in a raft of new research projects over the next two years, the Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) mobilises a new movement in the construction community, bringing together experts from a range of disciplines to tackle the most pressing problems across the digital, energy, construction, and manufacturing space.

The vision for the N+ is to deliver transformational impact by adopting an integrated approach, situating construction as a production system for built assets that adds value to cities and their infrastructures.

The N+ unites academic researchers with industry and policy representatives through networking and skills-building events, creating a new community and body of knowledge to inform future construction policy and practice.

The aim of the N+ is to provoke, enable and amplify innovation, through four main objectives:

  • Knowledge: to inform new research and development (R&D) models and government policy that link digital, construction, manufacturing and energy to improve productivity
  • Community building: to advance collaborations through knowledge exchange and debate, beyond what is currently possible
  • Business models: to produce user-informed, practical resources that accelerate pathways to manufacture and delivery
  • Investment and legacy: to de-risk and increase construction sector business R&D spend and enable new R&D collaborations that outlive the grant

The N+ provides funding for research projects that aim to address some of the biggest problems currently facing the construction industry. The research supported will focus on the gaps, inter-relationships and under-explored regions of this domain, spanning digital, energy, construction and manufacturing expertise, in line with the expectations of the Industrial Strategy Construction Sector Deal. The small projects will unite academics from different universities to synthesise and bring the best existing and new knowledge to the rest of the programme and maximise exposure across industry.

The first round of funding calls for Small Projects awarded 4 small projects:

  • Challenging Space Frontiers in Hospitals - UCL
  • Developing consistent benchmarks to drive improved performance in construction projects - University of Dundee
  • Digital Enablers for Construction Transformation (DECONT) - Loughborough University
  • Putting people at the heart of future social housing design and manufacture - Teesside University

Find out more about the successful small projects on the N+ website.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the N+ is a joint project between UCL, Imperial College London and WMG, University of Warwick.  

Find out more about the upcoming events and funding opportunities on the N+ website. Join the mailing list and follow the N+ on Twitter to hear about latest N+ news.