ASTUTE project showcases its support for Welsh manufacturing

The achievements of collaboration between the Advanced Sustainable manUfacturing TEchnologies (ASTUTE) project and Welsh enterprises in the Convergence Area were showcased recently (Wednesday, July 9), at an event at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay, hosted by Julie James AM.

ASTUTE showcase 2014

The event was very well attended with over 60 representatives from the Welsh Government, industry and academia.

Led by Swansea University, in collaboration with Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Cardiff Metropolitan, Glynd┼Ár, University of South Wales and University of Wales Trinity Saint David universities, the ASTUTE project combines the latest innovations, specialist expertise and state-of-the-art facilities in advanced manufacturing from all eight Welsh universities.

Since its launch in 2010 the five-year, £27million project, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through Welsh Government, has already supported over 250 businesses in West Wales and the Valleys.

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, was the guest speaker at the project’s showcase event, as it enters its final year.

Mrs Hart commented favourably on the ‘ease of use’ of the ASTUTE project that enables industry to access university expertise in a straight forward manner and address challenges collaboratively. She said: “Collaboration between academia and industry is key to driving forward research and innovation. This is an area the Welsh Government has been encouraging and supporting for many years and I am pleased to see how EU funds are having such a positive impact, benefiting a range of businesses across the region and creating opportunities for growth and jobs.”

A number of the companies ASTUTE has successfully worked with, including Aluminium Lighting Company, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Glass Tech Recycling Ltd, Frontier Medical Group, Amcanu Ltd, Silverwing (UK) Ltd, and Cambrian Printers Ltd, presented at the event, highlighting how the collaboration has benefited their companies.

Professor Hans Sienz, Director of the ASTUTE project, said: “To date, ASTUTE has been delighted with the impact that its industry-focussed collaborations have had in meeting the needs of a range of Welsh manufacturers.

“We are helping companies toward their long term sustainability and competitiveness through the implementation of advanced technologies and improved manufacturing systems to ultimately improve the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector in West Wales and the Valleys.

“ASTUTE is unique in that it brings together world class leading experts from across all of the Universities in Wales with engineering, science and manufacturing systems backgrounds combined with the availability of highly experienced specialists employed by the project to support manufacturing related businesses in Wales through responsive business collaborations.

“ASTUTE has exceeded initial targets set for the project, and has so far collaborated with more than 100 companies or enterprises within West Wales and the Valleys. This has helped generate more than £4.5 million in increased manufacturing investment for Wales, stimulated the creation of nearly 100 new jobs and initiated the set-up of nine new enterprises. Other notable achievements have included the launch of over 200 new or improved products, processes and services, as well as the official registration of 36 brand new, unique products, processes or service innovations. 

“Successes have also been achieved in encouraging companies to adopt better environmental and equality practices, as well as to embrace more waste-efficient, lean manufacturing processes.”

Looking to the future, Professor Sienz added: “Preparing for the next round of structural funding and building on the extensive track record and positive impact we have already achieved, we are widely consulting with key stakeholders. We will be concentrating on areas of research expertise within universities that match the needs identified by industry to allow for strategic, focused activities and higher impacts to be realised for the benefit of the Welsh economy and society.

“Our vision for the next phase of ASTUTE with R&D and skills development will be to look at opportunities to expand the project’s activity through different funding streams nationally and internationally, thereby opening even more new doors for the Welsh manufacturing industry.”

For more information on ASTUTE visit http://www.astutewales.com/ or follow on Twitter @AstuteWales.