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Manufacturing made smarter: Digital supply chain (industrial research)

Manufacturing & Materials
Project Size:


Your project must help UK manufacturing supply chains to develop digital technologies to become more efficient, productive, flexible, resilient. These must encourage the use of digital approaches to better integrate and optimise the performance of supply chains.


Your project must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £1 million and £3 million
  • Apply for total grant funding of no more than 50% of your total eligible costs
  • Start by 1 April 2021
  • Last up to 24 months

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • Be a UK registered business of any size
  • Collaborate with other UK registered businesses, academic institutions, charities, public sector organisations or research and technology organisations (RTO)
  • Involve at least one SME
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead or work alone.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK or European Economic Area (EEA).

When a business leads on an application it can collaborate in a further two applications.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to three applications.


Your project must develop a supply chain integration or optimisation idea and design a project to test the concepts. It must focus on a digital application. Your project must investigate one or more problems that your specific supply chain is experiencing and develop ideas for digital technology solutions to address these problems. For example:

  • Real-time tracking of products throughout the supply chain using digital technologies such as low-cost sensors, near field communication, real-time data capture and analytics
  • Improved track and trace capabilities may help companies optimise inventory management and/or establish clear and accurate demand signals to help them eliminate waste.

Project topics can include, but not be limited to, the following:

Supply chain design:

  • Effective risk management 
  • Inventory optimisation
  • Sustainable supply chains for increased flexibility
  • Warehouse optimisation 
  • Confidence in shared data considering provenance, traceability, verification, and quality management
  • New business models that affect the configuration of the supply chain, such as distributed manufacturing and manufacturing as a service

Supply chain execution:

  • Demand management, sensing and shaping
  • Proactive use of use of demand data for supply chain performance optimisation
  • Delivery performance and customer engagement
  • Improved decision-making through analytics and AI
  • Production planning or scenario modelling
  • Track-and-trace technologies and best practice 

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