Published date 23 March 2023

Digital innovation initiative sets up South West as global hub for next generation engineering

The completion of the first phase of a major digital research, skills and innovation initiative in the West of England continues to see the South West define the next frontier of engineering.

The culmination of the initial phase of the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) programme is a major milestone. It paves the way for the development of highly innovative products and ways of working that will deliver economic, social and sustainability benefits for future generations.

By bringing together world-leading technology innovators from academia and industry, DETI has created a fully functioning digital test-ground in the South West. These globally pioneering firms include Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Rolls Royce and Siemens. Since the collaboration started in 2020, DETI has enabled organisations to explore and develop the technologies of tomorrow. Innovative concepts developed include exciting new technologies to improve the speed and efficiency of the design process, to produce better and more sustainable high-performance products. Pushing engineering boundaries, these could accelerate transformational innovation in industrial design and manufacturing.

Dan Norris, West of England Metro Mayor, explained: “There is a climate and biodiversity emergency that requires leadership and action - deeds not words. Thankfully, we in the West of England are getting on with the job of fighting the climate crisis head on. The Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation programme – supported by £5 million in funding from my West of England Mayoral Authority – is helping harness the innovation and abundance of talent we know we have in our West of England region to tackle this and other urgent challenges. It’s building the technologies and digital skills we need to reach our net-zero targets locally, while demonstrating to the world that the West of England is the go-to place for digital and technological innovation and engineering knowhow. In turn, through the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation programme, we are creating more high-quality jobs for all residents while inspiring our young people to pursue careers in the green economy - helping create the innovators of the future. In short – it’s an absolutely vital programme, and I’m proud to back it”.

Highlights from the programme include research and tools that will power the next generation of electric vehicles; quantum-secure 5G connectivity to operate remote factories; and digitally-led product development that is five times faster than traditional methods. Presented in the latest edition of Digital Now, these proof-of-concept demonstrators offer digitally-enabled ways to make British industry more sustainable and globally competitive, creating new markets and opportunities for businesses in the South West.

DETI is also connecting and inspiring the engineers of the future while demystifying and accelerating the role of digital technologies in creating sustainable growth.

The DETI Skills Inspire programme has engaged directly with over 218 schools and community groups across the region, encouraging school children to explore digital engineering. Projects included creating a digital version of West of England landmarks in the popular block-building video game ‘Minecraft’, as well as an ‘Engineering Curiosity’ Top Trumps-style card game based on real-life engineers in the region.

The programme’s legacy also includes boosting local skills and encouraging diversity and inclusivity. The DETI STEM skills and workforce development programme supports the current and future workforce in the development of digital skills offering courses covering big data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and robotics, to ensure the region’s workforce is digital-ready.

The DETI consortium brings together digital technology expertise from the private sector and academia from across the region. Made possible by a £5m investment from the West of England Combined Authority, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry, DETI is delivered by the National Composites Centre, the Centre for Modelling & Simulation, Digital Catapult, the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol and the University of Bath.

Further information about DETI’s results can be found in Digital Now.

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