Tech startups join forces with BAE Systems and Babcock to address UK’s manufacturing challenges

Official DPRTE 2021 event partner BAE Systems and Babcock have joined forces with cutting edge tech startups to to address UK’s prevalent manufacturing challenges

Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions and SCALE+, a systems dynamic model, to provide actionable supply chain insights on where wastage occurs and improving sustainability is just another of the cutting-edge solutions from 14 startups selected for the Made Smarter Technology Accelerator programme.

The Made Smarter Technology Accelerator is run by Digital Catapult, the UK authority in advanced digital technology. It has been developed to pair industry leaders with technology startups to enable the use of advanced technology to radically alter, and improve, the way manufacturing is approached.

Through each individual challenge the programme aims to improve productivity in the manufacturing sector and help boost the post-Covid economy – supporting the wider Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge, with its ambition to raise productivity by 30% by 2030.

Each of the 14 startups and scaleups will be developing solutions to address some of the UK’s most prevalent manufacturing challenges, in collaboration with their Industry Challenge Owners – which include Babcock International Group and BAE Systems – and the programme’s Tech Sponsors, Verizon Business and Software AG.

The startups and scaleups will each receive up to £20,000 funding as they build prototypes, and can then apply for a further £100,000 of programme funding to develop minimum viable products later in the programme – resulting in solutions which could be applied for commercial use.

The challenges range from building 3D data for large scale modular construction projects (Babcock International Group) to scalable artificial intelligence for products’ visual inspection (BAE Systems).

Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult said: “The UK’s startup community leads Europe in developing applications for advanced digital technologies – but to reap the rewards of this innovation, those developments must be adopted by industrial partners and customers in the UK and around the world. 

“With our focus turning to economic recovery, the Made Smarter Technology programme emphasises the role of advanced digital technologies in tackling industry challenges head-on.     

“Congratulations to the successful startups and scaleups who will be working with our industry partners to develop ideas from AI solutions to improve food products’ shelf life, to tech to improve ship design – helping propel UK manufacturing.”

Juergen Maier, Chair of Digital Catapult and Co-Chair of Made Smarter added: “Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about extremely challenging conditions for the manufacturing sector, it also represents a chance for industry to take a step back to explore how we can innovate and apply advanced digital technologies to do things better.

“This programme has brought to the fore the world class expertise in the UK technology sector and by pairing bright startups and scaleups with large manufacturers, we hope to leverage those capabilities across a variety of disruptive emerging technologies to meet industry needs – from cutting costs, to boosting productivity.”

Minister for Investment, Lord Grimstone said:“The Made Smarter Technology Accelerator will leverage the world-leading innovation of UK start-ups to overcome some of the most pressing challenges faced by the manufacturing industry.

“This programme will empower cutting edge start-ups, specialising in areas such as AI and robotics, to collaborate with industry giants, helping businesses to build back better from the pandemic.”

CAE Tech Ltd, selected for the Babcock International Group challenge for digital shipbuilding, will be using novel interaction techniques, to enable an entire team, particularly those on the factory-floor, to collaborate around computer aided design (CAD) data. Cutting-edge technologies from the gaming and music sector paired with a cloud-based application will enable Babcock International Group engineers to connect the system with its CAD and bill of materials (BoM) data sources.

This use of cloud-based applications allows real-time sharing of data and notification of stakeholders when versions of the designs are released or updated. Accessibility from any device and collaboration throughout the manufacturing process is ensured – from the very early stages of design, including key features of version control, 3D CAD viewing, and securing efficient access to engineering data.

While the startup chosen for BAE Systems scalable artificial intelligence for visual inspection challenge, Machine Intelligence Ltd; will be using a novel machine learning technique, to identify defects in manufacturing, improve the quality of the end product, reduce waste and save money.

The highly-accurate system can recognise defects within camera images and will further improve the inspection process, which has typically relied on people, and more recently relies on using computer vision and AI. With the ability to learn from a small number of examples, it generates robust machine learning models that can be inspected and improved by a human expert.

The successful startups and scaleups will be presenting their industry-changing prototypes at a presentation event in June.

Supply2Defence and BAE Systems are official DPRTE 2021 partners

Taking place at Farnborough International on June 23rd with elements of the event streamed online, DPRTE 2021 is the UK’s leading defence procurement and supply chain event.

For all involved within buying for or supplying to the defence sector, it’s an unmissable opportunity to hear from and engage with industry leaders, influencers and stakeholders.

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