Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI backs £54 million manufacturing hub

Scotland’s innovation centre for data and artificial intelligence has joined a consortium to help create a £53.8 million hub designed to benefit the UK manufacturing sector.

The Data Lab has teamed up with 11 other organisations from across the UK to back the creation of the Smart Manufacturing Data Innovation Hub (SMDIH). It marks the largest consortium that the Scottish innovation centre has been a part of in its seven-year history.

As part of the hub, which aims to increase productivity and competitiveness in the UK manufacturing sector, The Data Lab will lead data science efforts, including extending the reach for participating firms to work with UK “cutting edge platforms”, and championing data skills through knowledge exchange workshops and online learning content.

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Ulster University, which will lead the consortium, has been working in the manufacturing innovation space for a number of years.

Nearly 10,000 manufacturers, including those from Scotland, stand to benefit from the hub and it is expected that 13,000 jobs will be created as a result of its launch, helping to boost economic growth.

The hub will be supported by £20m of funding from the £300m UK government-backed Manufacturing Made Smarter programme, which has been created to boost UK manufacturing productivity by 30 per cent by 2030 through investment in projects that use industrial digital technologies. This funding is in addition to £30m of business co-investment.

Brian Hills, chief executive of The Data Lab, said: “Being part of such a significant project which will drive change within a highly technical sector, all while working alongside academic and industry specialists, marks a milestone moment for The Data Lab.

“While Scotland has benefitted from our experience and services, inspiring others in the UK to adopt our unique approach to building and growing data science and AI [artificial intelligence] skills which will create real change for a sector is momentous.”

Brian Hills, chief executive of The Data Lab. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

He added: “Scottish manufacturers and others in the Scottish innovation ecosystem will also benefit from the hub as we will engage with them to drive collaboration and access to the innovation fund with a specific focus on SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises].”

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