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ESRC Manufacturing Made Smarter Town Hall Event

Image of a person in a manufacturing environment on a laptop.

Photo credit: Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Registration is now open

The ESRC has issued a pre-call for a Manufacturing Made Smarter (MMS) Research Director and is hosting a Town Hall event supported by the Innovation Caucus. The Research Director will develop and support the creation of a visible and effective digital innovation ecosystem to accelerate the innovation and diffusion of Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs). The MMS Research Director will work for initial period of five months to engage with key stakeholders and develop a detailed proposal for a MMS Network+. The Network+, under the leadership of the MMS Research Director, will ensure that the full range and depth of social and economic science insights are accessed across the MMS Challenge and wider UK manufacturing sector. The MMS Network+ will operate until December 2024. The UKRI ISCF MMS Challenge will invest up to £4 million through this competition. Full details on the pre-call are available on the UKRI website.

This meeting is for any individual interested in finding out more about the Research Director role, where you will hear from a current ISCF Research Director (Professor Judith Phillips), a Network+ Director (Professor Jacqueline Glass), the MMS Challenge Director (Chris Courtney) and the ESRC MMS Senior Manager (Daniel Robinson). The webinar will take place on Tuesday 13th October, 14:30 – 15:45.

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The aim of the MMS Challenge is to help UK manufacturing become more productive and competitive through the innovation and diffusion of digital technology. This includes IDTs such as additive manufacturing, robotics, virtual/augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics. The MMS ISCF Challenge will invest up to £147m.

The role of the Research Director is to develop and oversee the implementation of a MMS Network to ensure that the full range and depth of social and economic science insights are accessed across the MMS Challenge and wider UK manufacturing sector. The Research Director will work closely with the UKRI MMS Challenge Director and team in the development of the Network+. The Network+ will provide academic leadership across the sectors and organise networking activities such as workshops, events and communications, to build sustained engagement and collaboration. Applicants for the Research Director position can come from any academic discipline relevant to the MMS Challenge but will need to demonstrate a detailed understanding of the economic and social sciences as they apply to innovation and diffusion of new digital manufacturing technologies. They will be able to demonstrate their commitment to interdisciplinary working, and ability to build new collaborations between different social, economic and other disciplines including engineering. They will also need to demonstrate an understanding of the needs and demands of the manufacturing sector in the UK.

Through the five-month scoping phase, the MMS Research Director will work with the UKRI MMS Challenge Director and team to identify how the economic and social science communities can most effectively support the UK manufacturing sector accelerate its innovation and diffusion of IDTs. Industry engagement will be critical, including SMEs, as will the engagement of other key stakeholders including the Made Smarter Commission and Northwest pilot, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The scoping phase will also need to ensure that the proposed Network+ and wider MMS Challenge are aligned and able to respond to key developments such as major fiscal events, EU Withdrawal, and the ongoing impacts of Covid-19. Following this scoping phase, the Research Director will lead the Network+.

For full details and timetable of this call please visit