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Robin Wilson

Innovate UK

Business Innovation in Additive Manufacturing

Innovate UK helps drive business innovation through the funding of R&D projects and the promotion of networking activities through our Knowledge Transfer Network. Over the past 10 years we’ve funded well over 100 different projects involving additive manufacturing and 3D printing, many of which have resulted in successful outcomes and some new, game-changing design solutions going into series production.

People often ask me 2 questions: “What are all the projects doing?” and “How can UK Plc learn from all this?”

Well I have to admit, it’s surprisingly difficult to give straightforward answers. Firstly, the confidentiality of all projects must be respected and so, other than the brief summary we publish when a project is first awarded funding, I am not at liberty to divulge further details either during the project activity or after its completion. Secondly, the development and commercialisation of additive manufacturing technologies is happening at pace across all walks of life, from jewellery to jet engines and from medical implants to industrial equipment, so it’s almost impossible to keep track of all the various new challenges being encountered and the progress being made on so many fronts. But there is one thing we can do, and that is to encourage the voluntary sharing of knowledge by participants across our different projects. This approach is most effective when there are many active projects all working on one technology area at the same time and potentially experiencing a number of overlapping problems and ideas for solutions. This year we have over 40 active business-led innovation projects on additive manufacturing, so there’s a strong case for facilitating a knowledge-sharing and networking event and starting to build a “cohort” of like-minded innovators. In answer to the question of how UK Plc can learn from all this, we are linking the event to the National Additive Manufacturing Strategy which was published by AM-UK last autumn. Most of the projects attending the event are advancing the Process and Materials strategy challenge area and the majority are funded through grant awards from our 2016 CR&D competition Connected Digital Additive Manufacturing, which was designed with both the AM-UK Strategy and the new challenges around implementing Industry 4.0 very much in mind.

The Business Innovation in Additive Manufacturing day at this year’s Additive International represents the ideal forum in which to hold this innovation knowledge sharing activity and enable delegates to get first-hand insight to the progress being made by UK business towards overcoming these strategic challenges and realising the exciting new commercial opportunities enabled by additive manufacturing. We are very grateful to Professor Richard Hague and his team for inviting Innovate UK and the KTN to stage this event on the pre-conference Industry Day.


Robin Wilson is Innovation Lead for High Value Manufacturing at Innovate UK, which he joined in 2009, bringing 35 years’ industrial experience in technology development, mainly in the Automotive sector in Engineering, IT Systems and Manufacturing.

After gaining a BSc in Mechanical Engineering (Aston), Robin pursued a career in Product Development with Lucas Aerospace then Lucas Girling, specialising in antilock brake systems and gaining his C-Eng, MIMechE. Joining Rover Group in 1985 following consultancy with Sumitomo Industries in Japan, he was Chief Engineer for Chassis and Medium Car Programs, involving intensive collaboration with Honda. Robin pioneered digital mock-up and virtual reality techniques for concurrent product development, then with BMW established the group’s innovative Digital Manufacturing strategy in 1998. After 4 years’ operational responsibility for Engineering IT Systems across Jaguar Land Rover, he helped develop shared technologies with Ford and Volvo then pioneered new manufacturing information architectures for JLR’s current generation of lightweight and hybrid vehicles.

Since joining Innovate UK, Robin has engaged with companies across all areas of manufacturing, has been instrumental in setting up the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and developed the High Value Manufacturing Strategy for investing over £80m pa into innovative UK manufacturing technologies. He is a founding member of the Additive Manufacturing Steering Group and helped develop and launch the UK’s Additive Manufacturing Strategy in 2017.


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