UK FIRES: Locating Resource Efficiency at the heart of Future Industrial Strategy in the UK

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


Resource Efficiency is essential for reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing. Progress in achieving it has been slow, but a rapidly changing international context, including Brexit, is giving new emphasis to Industrial Strategy in the UK which creates a unique window of opportunity. This transformational Programme aims to locate resource efficiency at the heart of a visionary industrial strategy; it will create new world-leading competitive advantage for UK manufacturing by addressing four fundamental barriers to progress:

- to break out of lock-in to resource inefficiency, novel methods and tools will be developed to enumerate and characterise all today's options to design and manufacture material goods;
- to create clarity about the environmental impact of new manufacturing strategies, a ground-breaking Physical Resources Observatory will be developed to access and interpret more and better global resource data;
- to target manufacturing innovations for Resource Efficiency and accelerate their implementation, the features of an effective Innovation Pipeline will be characterised, tested and deployed with a portfolio of promising emerging manufacturing technologies;
- to give new priority to Resource Efficiency in Industrial Strategy, new metrics and decision-framing will be developed and tested in the Living Lab of the Programme's industrial consortium.

The Programme brings together nine internationally-leading academic groups and a consortium of subscribing industrial partners. The management strategy, designed for flexibility, aims to integrate existing methods from diverse disciplines to address the application of Resource Efficiency while stimulating exploration of new methodological opportunities where existing approaches are inadequate. The value of the investment in the Programme will be maximised through an International Advisory Panel to support connections and awareness, a consortium executive committee to determine priorities for strategic analysis, and a supervisory board to ensure financial and legal compliance. The programme will deliver impact via quarterly strategic analysis reports on resource issues, a programme of policy influence led by an experienced Policy Champion, technological innovations, an annual UK Forum on Resource Efficiency, commercial and open-access software tools, researcher training and multi-channel communications.

Planned Impact

The key scientific drive of this proposal is the delivery of impact. The academic research programme has been designed around a Living Lab comprising a consortium of subscribing industrial partners, the research team and other relevant stakeholders. The Living Lab will create an evolving dialogue between the methods and applications of the Programme to give clear direction research needs and to maximise the impact of the work. In order to deliver impact in practice:

- The Programme team will deliver professionally written and designed quarterly strategic reports on current priority topics identified by consortium partners, for their use in addressing immediate strategic decisions and to gain feedback on priorities for research development
- Consortium subscriptions will be used entirely to fund project PhD students to apply methods developed in the research to specific contexts, to validate the methods and drive new developments.
- An annual one-day UK Forum on Resource Efficiency will be organised to engage the full stakeholder community in Resource Efficiency across the UK in order to foster new connections, share emerging research ideas, and create new connections.
- A highly qualified "Policy Champion" employed by the Programme will design and lead delivery of focused policy workshops based on Programme outputs to carefully targeted Resource-related audiences across Whitehall and Westminster.
- Publications designed for industrial audiences, deriving from the Programme's academic output, will be disseminated through networks activated by consortium partners to influence future research and development agendas.
- Software implementing a Physical Resources Observatory, the core activity of Challenge 2, will be developed and released as open-access code and data to allow a broad community of resource analysts to experience, apply and enhance the outputs of the Programme directly.
- Software to support enumeration of the performance of existing design, processing and supply chain options will be developed and released through commercial or open-access channels as appropriate.
- The PI and members of the programme team will undertake "road-trips" (including delivering plenary talks, leading workshops and speaking at industry events) to share key outputs of the Programme and to stimulate UK leadership in innovation and the adoption of Research Efficiency in practice.


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