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    A partnership including the Northwest Automotive Alliance, Bentley Motors and the Virtual Engineering Centre is awarded £1.95 million of AMSCI funding

    A partnership comprised of the Northwest Automotive Alliance, Bentley Motors, the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) (part of the University of Liverpool), Optis, Icona and SimX has been successful in its bid for £1.95 million of Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) Round 2 funding, and two more automotive projects with North West partners also gain AMSCI funding,

    The project entitled ‘Simulation Tools for Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Engineering’ (STRIVE) has two objectives: enhancing productivity through the development of a new manufacturing planning process, and the creation of a new ‘digital’ supply chain.

    By harnessing the power of virtual reality environments made possible by super computing, the project will allow certain elements in the design process of a vehicle to be carried out earlier, so helping to speed up the development of new vehicles.

    The consortium will facilitate the integration of innovative technologies that have the potential to provide a revolutionary step change in UK automotive manufacturing from both a research and development and product launch perspective, resulting in the development of a critical mass for a new UK digital supply chain. The innovation lies in the integration aspects and novel underpinning algorithms of high fidelity analysis and immersive virtual prototyping which will result in the development of a new manufacturing planning process.

    The high fidelity simulation proposed in this project is built on the UK’s strong knowledge base and availability of high performance computing (HPC) available at the Daresbury Sci-Tech campus.

    The consortium is focused on developing the application of the technology to car manufacturing for Bentley Motors, which designs, engineers and builds its own products in the UK. However, it also has the potential to be applied to other manufacturing industries such as tier 1 suppliers within automotive or other industries that have a similar manufacturing and assembly environment.

    Bentley Motors is the end-user that will assess and evaluate the benefits of the product, thus establishing the commercial viability of the product and the initial route to market.

    The project enables Bentley Motors to explore the possibilities of a “step change” in technology that would not normally be commercially viable, given the limited resources the company has as a niche vehicle manufacturer and the longer-term nature of the project. The project will give Bentley Motors a competitive advantage within the Volkswagen Group for its Engineering and Product Launch teams for new model development.

    The total investment of the STRIVE project is £3.3 million and it is due to create 14 new jobs and safeguard 40 positions.

    The STRIVE project and the other winners from Round 2 of AMSCI were announced at the third annual Manufacturing Summit held by BIS in February at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon.

    Another two of the 12 winning projects from Round 2 will be delivered in partnership with automotive businesses in the North West.

    One such project will see luxury car manufacturer Bentley work with other automotive manufacturers to increase production of luxury vehicle car components as global demand for the products grow.
The ‘Niche Luxury Vehicle Cluster Supplier Capacity Building Programme’ is expected to create almost 400 direct jobs and safeguard over 150 additional roles. It will be financed by £2 million from AMSCI and £7 million by private partners.

    Another winning bid is the ‘Composites innovation Cluster’ (CiC), in which NAA member Sigmatex is a partner. The project will address market failures in the materials and innovation sector – enabling the design and manufacture of lightweight vehicles, structures and devices that would otherwise take place abroad.

    AMSCI is a national initiative with a fund of up to £125m to create more competitive supply chains, sustain or create new employment opportunities, and create better synergies and sustained collaborative relationships throughout supply chains that participate in this initiative.

    The competition seeks to provide a flexible approach in the type of support that can be provided to address the key barriers to supply chain development. This initiative can provide grants and loans to successful projects demonstrating real ambition to create globally competitive supply chains. The funding can also support a combination of investment in capital equipment, research and development, and training and skills in recognition of the flexibility needed to overcome the barriers that suppliers and supply chains can face.

    Birmingham City Council oversees the competition to award funds for this national scheme. The Technology Strategy Board supports Birmingham City Council in running the competition process. Information on Rounds 3 & 4 has now been published, with the competition opening on 21 March. The deadline for submission is 29 May for Round 3, and 16 October for Round 4, with the deadline for registration of interest one week prior to the closing date.

    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham