UKRI has provided around £12.7 million in funding to develop innovations to support fast recovery and sustainability in UK foundation industries after COVID-19, including re-purposing textile waste.
£4.7 million in funding has been awarded to a new Transforming Foundation Industries Research and Innovation hub (TransFIRE). It will be led by Professor Mark Jolly, Cranfield University along with 12 partner universities.
The hub will be a new cross-sector and multi-disciplinary research centre to enable the foundation industries to work together to address their common challenges of competitiveness and sustainability. It will also enable them to accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies and business models.
There are so many opportunities, challenges and processes that cross over between the different foundation industries, so having a central resource to pool ideas and solutions can help remove some of the inefficiencies and hurdles to innovation that exist in different parts of the sector
Bruce Adderley, challenge director of UKRI’s Transforming Foundation Industries challenge, said: “The research hub represents a crucial step forward in addressing innovation in these industries, by introducing a more collaborative environment to share knowledge and experiences.
“There are so many opportunities, challenges and processes that cross over between the different foundation industries, so having a central resource to pool ideas and solutions can help remove some of the inefficiencies and hurdles to innovation that exist in different parts of the sector.”
Building a resilient recovery
A further £8 million of the funding is being awarded across 19 successful projects through the ‘Building a resilient recovery’ competition, which forms part of UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Transforming Foundation Industries challenge.
In this competition, applicants were asked to focus on resource and energy efficiency in order to help make the industries more environmentally sustainable, while maintaining their global competitiveness.
The winning projects are based from across the UK, and include:
- Cloud Cycle’s data-led solution for optimising concrete delivery and usage, while minimising waste
- the SCI-FI project for condition monitoring across the industries that creates more effective maintenance strategies
- the BACpack study into re-using low-carbon scrap for aluminium sheet manufacture.
The funding will also cover areas such as:
- re-purposing textile waste
- new clay production techniques
- concrete manufacturing
- bio-based roofing resin
- high temperature heat pumps.
The competition closed to entrants in late 2020 and successful projects then underwent a series of checks and feasibility assessments to confirm the viability of their innovations, and their potential application across the specified markets and sectors.
Reducing and re-using waste materials
Adderley added: “For the foundation industries there are huge benefits to be gained by looking at reducing and re-using waste materials that arise from the creation, processing and use of the products manufactured by these sectors, so it is inspiring to see so many innovations that tackle this challenge head on.
“The focus these projects bring on greener alternatives, lower emissions, and energy saving, will have an impact across the economy, support the move towards net zero in the UK, and we look forward to helping them bring their innovations to fruition.”