UK Manufacturing Forum: Recommendations for the UK’s Research & Innovation Ecosystem



The UK Manufacturing Forum’s mission is to identify practical actions which will help to maximise the impact of investment in the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem.


It’s no secret that there are some barriers to effective collaboration between academia and Catapults. To better understand these barriers, we have gathered and analysed a wide range of insights and ideas from our communities.


The resulting material has been crystallised into some key observations and five specific recommendations which are now being discussed with UKRI’s leadership. And the ideas are already gaining traction. For example, many were referenced in the recent House of Lords report on the Catapult Network.


These recommendations are listed below.

Recommendation 1


Simplify and standardise funding rules for Innovate UK projects


This recommendation is to modify current Innovate UK rules for funding to encourage commercial leverage in the end-to-end R&D ecosystem, through greater collaboration between universities, Catapults, and industry.


Recommendation 2


Allow access to Funding for Translation Acceleration between universities and Catapults


Access to funding is needed so that translation of early-stage discoveries from universities can be rapidly scaled via the Catapult Network. This would strengthen partnerships between universities and Catapults, enabling UK-developed technologies to rapidly reach market.


Recommendation 3


Invest in people to build bridges between universities and Catapults


This recommendation is to invest in secondments and dedicated translation managers to ensure more efficient and effective translation in higher volumes, and enhanced knowledge exchange between organisations.

Recommendation 4


Allow Research Council-funded projects to include Catapults and other RTOs as direct participants


This will allow stronger links for academic research projects to the expertise and facilities within Catapults, and enable connections to the application needs of a wide range of industrial organisations.

Recommendation 5


Create opportunities for large scale, high-TRL, collaborative R&D demonstrator projects


Providing funding for larger-scale CR&D project, covering broad technology areas and without geographical limit, would allow for better innovation across whole supply chains.

At present, these recommendations are under consultation with broad academic communities, and more work is happening at a dedicated workshop on 25th March. Our findings will be released in a report later in 2021.


UKMF 2020 Q&A