Vince Cable has today announced some major funding for 18 innovative 3D-printing R&D projects.
This funding will come jointly from the Technology Strategy Board and Research Councils, and should help businesses to develop new manufacturing solutions in 3D printing technology across industries such as healthcare and energy.
This is an excellent example of how government funding can be used to develop new and exciting technologies. It is part of the government's Industrial Strategy commitment to invest in emerging technologies which Cable says:
“will bring jobs and economic growth throughout the UK”
We are highly supportive of this kind of investment: innovation is risky and requires resources that companies do not always have. It is therefore necessary that the government is an active partner with industry.
However, while the focus of the investment is right – and despite recent increases in funding – we have concerns about the level of investment in innovation.
For example, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (where Cable made his announcement today) is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. Without sufficient funding the Catapult centres will not be able to reinvest in the cutting edge technology they need to support innovation in UK businesses. This is why we are calling for the operational funding of the HVM Catapult to be doubled.
For more information on our innovation policy recommendations ahead of the Spending Review click here.