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Manufacturing Policy Portal [beta]

Hosted by the Centre for Science, Technology & Innovation Policy (CSTI)

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Manufacturing R&D

Manufacturing R&D

Several UK agencies have proposed advanced manufacturing strategies with priorities for manufacturing R&D.

2013 – GO Science/Foresight

2012 – Technology Strategy Board


In the UK, there have been studies and reports that delve into manufacturing R&D. The 2013 Government Office for Science Foresight report (The future of manufacturing: a new era of opportunity and challenge for the UK - project report) distinguishes between primary or underpinning technologies that are “likely to become increasingly pervasive in products and processes”, and secondary or contingent technologies that will make use of those underpinning technologies to collectively facilitate a number of improvements in products, services and manufacturing systems.

Primary/underpinning technologies

Secondary technological developments
  • ICT
  • Advanced Materials
  • Sensors
  • Biotechnology
  • Sustainable / green technologies
  • Numerical modelling & algorithms
  • Mechatronics
  • Photonics
  • Knowledge systems
  • Micro electronics
  • Tribology
  • Nanotechnology
  • Networks
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Human-machine interfaces
  • Mobile internet
  • Knowledge-based automation
  • The ‘internet of things’
  • Big data
  • Cloud computing
  • Autonomous robotics
  • Energy intelligence
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Printable electronics
  • Integrated safety systems
  • Virtual product creation
  • Low impact transportation
  • Virtual manufacturing
  • Adaptive systems

The report also notes that the secondary or underpinning technologies are relevant to the ‘eight great technologies’ that are receiving current Government investment: big data, space, robotics and autonomous systems, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, agri-science, advanced materials and energy.

The summary report of the same Foresight project offers pared down lists of what it terms “important pervasive and secondary technologies for future manufacturing activities”.

Pervasive TechnologiesSecondary Technologies
  • Information and communications technology (ICT)
  • Sensors
  • Advanced & functional materials
  • Biotechnology
  • Sustainable/green technologies
  • Big data and knowledge based automation
  • Internet of things
  • Advanced and autonomous robotics
  • Additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing)
  • Cloud computing
  • Mobile internet


A 2012 study conducted for the Technology Strategy Board, A landscape for the future of high value manufacturing in the UK, identified a collection of key national competencies clustered into five strategic themes.

  • Securing UK manufacturing technologies against scarcity of energy and other resources
    • Energy generation, storage, management and security
    • Design and manufacture for sustainability and through life
    • Biotech, biological and synthetic biology processing
    • Design and manufacture for lightweight vehicles, structures and devices
  • Increasing the global competitiveness of UK manufacturing technologies by creating more efficient and effective manufacturing systems
    • Understanding designing and manufacturing formulated products
    • ‘Plug and play’ manufacturing
    • Design & manufacture for small-scale & miniaturisation
    • Process engineering capability and efficiency across food, pharmaceuticals & chemicals
    • Novel mechanical conversion processes for scale economy and efficiency
    • Systems modelling & integrated design/simulation
    • Automation, mechanisation and human/machine interface
  • Creating innovative products, through the integration of new materials, coatings and electronics with new manufacturing technologies
    • Smart, hybrid and multiple materials
    • Intelligent systems and embedded electronics
    • Development and application of advanced coatings
  • Developing new, agile, more cost-effective manufacturing processes
    • Flexible and adaptive manufacturing
    • Combining product development steps in parallel/concurrent engineering
    • Additive manufacture
    • Net and near net shape manufacture
  • Building new business models to realise superior value systems
    • Managing fragmented value chains including distributed manufacturing to support HVM
    • Building new business models to support HVM
    • Developing and retaining skills to support HVM
    • Managing risk and resilience to support HVM