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New manufacturing opportunities for UK businesses in China


Innovative UK tech companies have won a unique business opportunity to visit China this month to explore greener, approaches to manufacturing. 

The successful businesses will participate in the six-day Tomorrow’s Manufacturing: Mission to China, organised  by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, together with the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China (MoST). The Mission will encourage collaboration on research, development and innovation (R&D&I) between businesses and will be the first step towards long-lasting partnerships between the two nations.

Arcola Energy
Arcola Energy

Each of the chosen companies have been selected for excellence in at least one of four key areas: the use of alternative, greener substances in manufacturing; the recycling and re-manufacturing of finite resources; decreasing the amount of material deployed to deliver services; and lower energy consumption over a product lifecycle.

The companies include: a developer of fuel-cell technologies that make electricity more accessible for consumers and businesses; a filter manufacturer that uses advanced metal manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing; and an R&D centre using sodium batteries to replace conventional energy power and storage in electric vehicles.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:
“The UK and China have a close working relationship and this is a fantastic business opportunity for some of the most innovative companies in the UK. It will give them the chance to reach out to a new market and collaborate with business in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

“By supporting our brightest businesses we will ensure that the UK remains ahead in the global race, developing new ideas and exporting them across the globe. This mission will benefit both China and the UK and is a great step forward in building long lasting relationships.”

David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, explained: 

“The goal of this Mission is to provide the companies with the necessary know-how, connections and inspiration to help improve and accelerate opportunities with potential customers and partners.

“The UK and China are two of the world’s largest manufacturers. This Mission marks a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries, focused on sustainable manufacturing and the transformation to a green economy."

Dr. Zhou Longchao, Director of the European Division, Department of International Cooperation, MoST, added: “China is one of the world’s largest manufacturing countries and is today a key part of global supply chains, and the UK is recognised for its world-class sustainable manufacturing research base. With commitment of both governments to promote academia and industry collaboration, this Mission offers businesses in both countries the opportunity to learn from each other and to build complementary relationships with joint innovation initiatives.”

Commencing on 22 September, participants in the Mission will visit three Chinese regions renowned for their enterprise and heavy manufacturing - Changsha, Guangzhou and Shanghai. They will have an opportunity to extend their international operations in sectors ranging from automotive, textiles, metallurgical and machine building to electronics and pharmaceuticals.

You can follow the progress of these companies during their visit at or on Twitter @tsbmission #ttmc

- Ends-

Notes to Editors

1. During the past 12 months, the Technology Strategy Board has organised three overseas missions - the second Clean and Cool mission to the US, the Future Health Mission to the US and the Web Mission to India. These missions have achieved more than £200m in funding, with over 70 per cent of participating companies gaining investment. Spanning a number of new and innovative sectors, these missions are underpinned by the Technology Strategy Board's continued commitment to identifying and securing overseas opportunities for UK businesses.

2. The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led UK government body which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

3. The Ministry of Science & Technology of the People's Republic of China (MoST) heads up science and technology (S&T) development plans and policies in China, drafting related laws, regulations and department rules, and guaranteeing their implementation. It is responsible for drafting the National Basic Research Programme, the National High-tech R&D Programme and the S&T Enabling Programme.

4. Participants of 2013 Tomorrow’s Manufacturing: Mission to China are:
Arcola Energy Ltd:
develops and manufactures fuel cell-based low carbon energy solutions that make electricity more accessible for consumers and businesses

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI): technology innovation centre  that helps develop products and prove processes with minimal risk 

Croft Filters: Croft Filters Ltd: manufacturer filters that provide bespoke industrial filtration, and develops high-specification filter products using 3D printing which offers an alternative technique to traditional manufacturing

Ctech Innovation: research, development and innovation organisation that works with clients in business, government and academia to replace traditionally energy intensive services

e2v Consortium: develops microwave devices and sub-systems that  limit environmental impact by lowering energy consumption and using renewable energy sources

Ingenza: makes industrial biotechnology products used in microbial strain improvement, synthetic biology, fermentation and bioprocess development providing alternative sustainable manufacturing bioprocesses

Ionotec: conducts research projects focusing on component supplies for sodium batteries which help meet the demand for bulk electric energy storage associated with greener power generation

Oxford NanoSystems: develops heat transfer and corrosion resistance technologies that help to reduce fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions

Perceptive Engineering Ltd: develops predictive control and diagnostics tools that allow engineers to start working without committing to capital expenditure

Plasma Quest Ltd (PQL): developed a new coating process, to overcome the limitations associated with existing thin film-based coating technology and reduces its environmental impact

Promethean Particles: provides improved nanomaterials to scale manufacturing capability for a wide range of applications, including energy storage, printed electronics, catalysis and polymer composites

Teer Coatings Ltd: develops individual Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) coating solutions for components, to improve their surface properties

Scionix Ltd: develops an electrochemical process (electropolishing) using a new, non-toxic ionic liquid (green non-toxic electrolytes).

5. The companies will be joined by five of the top UK academic organisations undergoing pioneering research within the field of sustainable manufacturing. These are Warwick Life Sciences and Warwick Manufacturing Group, Brunel University, Cranfield University, Liverpool University and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC):

Warwick Life Sciences and Warwick Manufacturing Group: exploring new solutions to minimise waste and maximise efficiencies from agricultural production to new product development. Projects have taken forward products to manufacture using life cycle analysis and supply chain optimisation

Brunel University: The Advanced Bioprocessing Centre (ABC) at Brunel University specialises in counter-current liquid separation technology, which offer solutions to current chemical and pharmaceutical separation challenges occurring in the purification of drugs for clinical trials

Cranfield University: targeting traditional processes aimed at reducing the materials of manufacturing usage and energy, with the ultimate aim of lowering carbon and water footprints of final components to make it more environmentally friendly. The Chinese light alloy foundry sector may be interested in the technology, CRIMSON, which means that foundries need only heat the quantity of metal required to fill a single mould rather than whole batches that use unnecessary energy and create waste.

Liverpool University: A current focus for this university is how consumer use impacts on sustainable engineering design with research aiming to support products, processes and systems that will enable consumers to be more environmentally friendly

EPSRC: conducting research into technologies and management science policies that enable industries to increase sustainable performance. These include the centre has been studying include Eco Efficiency, Eco Factories and the Sustainable Industrial System.

All enquiries to:
Katharine Simon/ Chris Owen / Anne Ligory
Octopus Group
0845 3707 024