29.04.24 Know-how

Power up your manufacturing business

New technologies in manufacturing are opening doors for businesses of all sizes. But how do you turn innovative ideas into reality? Research and development funding can be the key that unlocks your manufacturing project’s potential.

Within this post, we’ll dive into four different types of manufacturing you can fuel with funding:

  • Additive manufacturing
  • Digital manufacturing
  • Product innovation
  • Sustainable manufacturing

Additive manufacturing

What is it?

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, uses digital data to build physical objects layer by layer. This cutting-edge technology has seen rapid advancements, opening doors for exciting innovation across the manufacturing landscape. Companies are strategically designing for 3D printing, seamlessly integrating it with traditional processes. As a result, there has been a huge shift in its use, particularly in sectors like aerospace, medical, transportation, energy, and consumer products.

Why is it important?

  • Unlocks complex designs: It allows for the creation of intricate shapes and geometries that would be difficult or impossible with traditional subtractive manufacturing methods (think machining or milling). This opens doors for innovation in various fields like aerospace, medical implants, and lightweight components
  • Less waste: While 3D printing does produce waste, as sometimes supporting parts need to be printed and then removed to enable the whole structure to be printed, it is less wasteful than other methods.
  • Rapid prototyping: 3D printing allows for quick and affordable creation of prototypes, speeding up the design and development process. This enables faster iteration and testing of product ideas
  • Inventory optimisation: With the ability to print parts as needed, manufacturers can reduce the need for large inventories, lowering storage costs and increasing flexibility

Grant funding can help:

  • Businesses and research institutions to explore new AM technologies, materials and processes helping you to make breakthroughs in, for example: speed and efficiency, developing faster printing processes and minimising downtime, material innovation, creating new materials with superior properties like strength flexibility or biocompatibility, and multi-material printing: one of the key factors in leveraging AM’s potential well beyond ‘traditional manufacturing’ enabling the production of complex parts without the need for assembly
  • Support projects focused on the development and demonstration of AM for new industrial applications and encourage wider adoption of the technology

Additive manufacturing, although well known, is still in some ways an underdeveloped technology. It has significant potential for disruption of traditional manufacturing methods, but the need for reduced costs and better processing techniques coupled with materials development is key in bringing this form of manufacturing to its full potential.

Digital manufacturing

What is it?

Digital manufacturing is the application of computer systems to manufacturing services, supply chains, products and processes. Digital manufacturing technologies link systems and processes across all areas of production to create an integrated approach to manufacturing, from design to production and on to the servicing of the final products.

Why is it important?

  • Better decisions as a result of being able to simulate processes before production, saving time and money
  • Optimised operations: tasks are automated and data is analysed to eliminate efficiencies
  • Staying customer-focused by integrating customer data for better demand forecasting and maintenance

Grant funding can help:

Grant funding is a great way to tackle current hurdles in digital manufacturing such as the integration of digital technologies across the manufacturing processes from initial design through production and logistics. For example, creating digital twins for product simulation and testing, using data analytics to improve the process, and implementing predictive maintenance on existing processes.

Grants can be used, for example, to:

  • Improve quality control by integrating sensors and real-time monitoring to allow continuous quality checks throughout the manufacturing processes, identifying and addressing potential issues early on leading to higher-quality products
  • Reduce costs: digital manufacturing, while there can be high upfront costs can lead to long-term savings through reduced waste, improved efficiency and lower maintenance costs
  • Investigate the feasibility of implementing digital tools into a manufacturing operation with lower risk as a grant can pay a percentage of the cost associated with investigation and deployment

Product innovation

What is it?

Product innovation refers to the creation, development, and introduction of new products or significant improvements to existing products. This could be in design, materials, functionality, or even production materials.

Why is it important?

  • Competitive advantage: it’s crucial to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced marketplace so innovation can keep you ahead of the competition
  • Expand your market share: new products can attract new customers and keep existing ones loyal
  • Fuel growth: new and improved products can increase revenue and overall business expansion
  • Future-proof your business: Continuous innovation ensures you stay relevant in a constantly evolving market
  • Enhance your brand image: Being known for innovation can strengthen your brand image, attracting top talent, investors and customers

Grant funding can help:

Innovation grant funding can be a game changer for product innovation in several ways:

  • Grants support the initial phases of product development validating a concept and building prototypes allowing companies to explore innovation without the full financial burden
  • Funding can be used to advance the development phases without the financial burden. Companies can conduct testing and demonstration in a market to bridge the gap between promising ideas and commercially viable product
  • Using funding to overcome financial hurdles you can create a faster time to market for new products
  • Grants allow you to partner with other organisations both industry and academia to bring new ideas knowledge and expertise to your product development

Sustainable manufacturing

What is it?

Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products that use a process to minimise negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, and are safe for employees, communities and consumers.

The overall goal of sustainable manufacturing is to obtain a view of the whole product cycle and optimise the lifecycle of manufacturing systems, products and services. Sustainable manufacturing not only generates more sustainable products, but the manufacturing processes will also increase a company’s social and environmental benefits.

Why is it important?

  • Reduced Footprint: Sustainable practices minimise environmental impact, shrinking our collective carbon footprint
  • Smarter Resource Use: Increased resource efficiency means less waste and more sustainable production methods
  • Competitive Edge: Embracing sustainability isn’t just good for the planet, it gives manufacturers a strategic advantage
  • Resilient Business: Sustainable practices help mitigate risks associated with resource scarcity and environmental regulations
  • Enhanced Brand Image: Consumers are increasingly drawn to sustainable products, boosting brand reputation

Grant funding can help:

  • Energy Efficiency: Helping manufacturers optimise energy use for a greener and more cost-effective future
  • Economy: Promoting closed-loop systems where waste from one process becomes a resource for another
  • Remanufacturing: Extending product lifespans by giving new life to existing materials.
  • Industrial Symbiosis: Facilitating collaboration between industries, where one company’s waste becomes another’s valuable resource

With global and UK targets for carbon reduction pushing sustainability to the forefront, it’s clear: environmental responsibility isn’t just an add-on, it’s a wellspring of innovation. Join us in building a more sustainable future, one innovative solution at a time.


Funding plays a critical role in propelling your manufacturing business forward. Whether you’re embracing cutting-edge technologies like 3D printing, optimising your operations through digital manufacturing, or pursuing innovative product ideas, there are funding options available to support your goals. Contact us to discuss your manufacturing innovation.


Stay in the loop

Subscribe to our regular emails and be the first to receive the latest and greatest in grant funding opportunities, news, insights and resources.