The Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative in the West of England has launched and will play an important role in driving innovation and digitally enabled recovery following the Coronavirus outbreak.
DETI is a research, innovation and skills initiative to develop and accelerate digital engineering across multiple sectors for future generations of engineers and engineering products. It is receiving £5m from the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and is expected to deliver at least £62m of added research and development value over 5 years.
It forms part of the West of England Combined Authority’s commitment to prioritising innovation to improve business productivity and resilience, create new skills and employment opportunities for residents, and help the shift towards a low-carbon economy. This is a pillar of the West of England’s Local Industrial Strategy, which sets out clear priorities to drive long-term, clean and inclusive growth.
DETI will work with leading companies and support industry to reduce carbon emissions by producing better products that are lighter, more fuel efficient and have less waste through undertaking research and innovation in the virtual world.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “Following the Coronavirus outbreak I’m determined that our region remains a thriving, successful and innovative place to live and work. Innovation and digital technology are vital to help our businesses recover and emerge digitally stronger. DETI will play an important part in our recovery and will have a major impact on reducing carbon emissions through accelerating the development of more efficient and sustainable ways of working while inspiring the next generation of engineers. By fast-tracking innovation, the West of England region will be better placed to maintain employment levels, reinforce our competitive position in global markets and make business more resilient for the future.”
DETI is a strategic programme of WECA, delivered by the National Composites Centre (NCC) in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS), Digital Catapult, the University of the West of England (UWE), the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. Industry partners include Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, and CFMS, with in kind contributions from UWE, Digital Catapult and Siemens. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.
Richard Oldfield, CEO of the NCC said: “The global engineering landscape is shifting, driven by the requirements to deliver a low carbon economy. Shorter product development times, faster routes to market and the need for through-life product sustainability for some of the most complex products the world has ever seen, provides us with a unique opportunity. DETI will bring together leading companies, technology disruptors and universities to push the boundaries of the digitally enabled engineering of the future, to help UK businesses maintain engineering leadership.”
The ability to demonstrate the value of digital technology integrated into industry relevant production systems is recognised as a key blocker to digital transformation. DETI will coordinate and deliver on key industry challenges, enabling companies of all size to collaborate on ‘proof of concept’ projects that address technology, process and people barriers to digital transformation. Key demonstrators that will be delivered in December 2020 include Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Manufacturing which will enable ‘right every time’ manufacturing, and a Virtual Reality (VR) interactive training solution in February 2021.
At the core of DETI is a state-of-the-art, 5G enabled¹ industrial test bed utilising collaborative design, connected manufacturing facilities and high-performance computing capabilities. DETI will tailor the test bed to help organisations of all size to explore the best digital tools to use, technologies to invest in, and how to exploit value from vast quantities of data generated through the product lifecycle.
Encouraging diversity and inclusivity, DETI will initiate a comprehensive skills and workforce development programme and will engage with 1,000 young people from socially disadvantaged areas in the West of England. This is to ensure the current and future workforce is digital-ready, deploying courses based on the analysis of future skills and jobs needed discovered through the DETI programme. Inspiring future generations, the programme will engage with schools, further and higher education to demonstrate how digital engineering can contribute to the sustainability goals for the West of England. Acting as a catalyst for digital disruption in the region; it will connect, accelerate and inspire the people and technologies that will lead into the next phase of clean and sustainable growth.