Our approach

Theme strategy in relation to Balancing Capability

The strategy for the EPSRC Manufacturing the Future theme has been developed by working closely with other EPSRC research themes, academics, industry and the Manufacturing the Future Strategic Advisory Team (SAT). During 2015, we developed four priority Research Visions that describe how we see advances in engineering and physical sciences contributing to a productive, innovative, and competitive manufacturing sector in the UK. These are:

  • 21st Century Products
  • Digital Manufacturing
  • Sustainable Industries
  • New Industrial Systems

During the Balancing Capability project the SAT used these Research Visions to determine the importance of research areas to the theme and as context for the strategic direction. As the theme draws upon capabilities from the entire engineering and physical sciences research community, we focussed on the 20 per cent of research areas which are of most significance, as evidenced by previous funding and recommended by the SAT. For these research areas the SAT also considered how they might deliver the ambitions of EPSRC’s Prosperity Outcomes.

Key engagement activities

Throughout the Balancing Capability project we have regularly engaged with the Manufacturing the Future SAT. The Research Visions evolved from the theme’s previous research challenges and were developed in collaboration with our SAT as well as through engagement with the research community, users and other funders.

The following activities and events occurred in late 2015 and 2016 to provide engagement opportunities with a variety of stakeholders:

  • EPSRC Manufacturing Vision days in Cambridge, Nottingham and Sheffield. These events were key in the development of the strategic Research Visions and engaged with the research community, users and other funders and stakeholders.
  • We worked with other EPSRC themes, notably the Engineering and Mathematical Sciences themes, on a number of engagement activities and events. These included an Operational Research Theme Day and engagement with the Aerospace Technologies Institute.
  • Regular meetings with the Manufacturing and Materials sector team in Innovate UK. The aim of these meetings is to discuss strategy and ongoing activities. Representatives from Innovate UK have been engaged with the Balancing Capability project, specifically through attendance at SAT meetings.
  • Meetings of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centres’ Chief Technology Officers. These meetings are to ensure the Catapult Centres are aware of EPSRC priorities and activities.

Key evidence sources

In addition to regular engagement activities a range of evidence sources were identified as being relevant to the theme; these were highlighted by SAT members, the EPSRC Call for Evidence and our own portfolio knowledge. The following evidence sources were particularly useful across the breadth of the theme and reinforced our strategic thinking:

The above list is not exhaustive; please see the individual research area rationales for further evidence sources and the Balancing Capability ‘Call For Evidence’ for further information.