CIC: enabling the design and manufacture of lightweight vehicles & structures in the UK

The Composites Innovation Cluster is a 28-partner, 36-month collaboration to tackle market failures in the composites materials and innovative manufacturing sector. Formed in 2014, The CiC was led by Cytec Industrial Materials (Heanor, UK), partnered by Axillium Research Ltd (Daventry, UK) and Composites UK (National Trade Association), with support from strategic partner The National Composites Centre 

A total programme value of £22.4m with £10.9m provided via AMSCI grant funding.


The need for the Composites Innovation Cluster

In response to the demand signals of all UK industry sectors, a number of market failures needed addressing in the composites materials and innovative manufacturing sector. Primarily these included:

  • A shortage of manufacturing technology and skills across the UK composites supply chain
  • Poor dialogue and market understanding between OEMs, SMEs, Academia and Industry partners
  • The design and manufacture of lightweight vehicles, structures and devices taking place abroad due to all of the above

The solution

As a key partner in this programme, our role was to provide the exacting levels of support, guidance and programme management needed to ensure success for all partners and the programme as a whole. Due to the high value and volume of partners, this was an extremely complex process involving:

  • Consortia building, to bring together the right partners for the community and define clear outcomes
  • Grant funding support, bid-writing and scoping to secure the initial £10.9m in AMSCI funds
  • Programme management and strategic guidance to enable partners to focus their resources on core business, whilst ensuring the innovations move forward along with the consortium goals
  • Supply chain development – creating the collaborative value chain needed for composites

As a result of our services, we have helped the CIC to deliver a holistic supply chain model which will extend throughout the composites community.

The benefit

With Axillium’s innovation guidance and support, the CiC has combined government and industry investment strategically to support the UK composites industry, and bought the industry together with impact. By supporting the collaborations between all partners we have enabled them to make a substantial impact by creating new skills and employment to enable UK capacity. Some of the overall benefits created include:

  • 118 jobs created and a further 47 safeguarded
  • 85% of partners have grown their market position in the UK or abroad
  • 19 instances of IPR created
  • 24 new products, services or processes as a result of the programme
  • 82% of partners said they achieved the intended result

Ultimately, the Cluster’s achievements have:

“demonstrated what is possible when we work together – and underlined the value of ongoing investment in developing a supply chain that can hold its chin high on the challenging global stage.” 

Mark Steele – Global Technical Service Director for Solvay

A full report detailing the activities of the Composites Innovation Cluster programme from 2012 – 2016 can be downloaded here.

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