Business Technology

Business minister Anna Soubry launches £10m aerospace fund for SMEs

3 min read

23 June 2015

Former deputy editor

A new £60m aerospace and 3D printing centre has been opened in Coventry by business minister Anna Soubry, who also revealed small businesses in the aerospace sector are able to apply for investment from a £10m fund.

Drones have become an increasingly key part in the aerospace sector, and British firm Sky-Futures generated even more interest for the industry when it secured Europe’s largest drone investment in May.

MMC Ventures provided the company with a £2.5m Series A round and investment director Simon Menashy, said: “Drone technology is an exciting area of innovation, but it’s only now that we are seeing leading commercial operators emerge.”

Business minister Anna Soubry, who was promoted during prime minister David Cameron’s Conservative party reshuffle, has now given aviation even more attention in an attempt to boost productivity in a campaign that’s funded by the government and industry.

She opened the Aerospace Research Centre and National Centre for Net Shape and Additive Manufacturing – broadly known as 3D printing. The £60 million properties are based at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry.

Soubry used her time at the site to also open a £10 million fund for small to medium-sized companies developing aerospace technology, which is being overseen by Innovate UK. The organisation claims it is seeking innovative, novel ideas that can move from research to commercial applications.

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“Government and industry are working together to keep Britain at the forefront of the global aerospace market. We are currently second only to the United States, but there is more to do and it is important that we continue to invest in R&D and develop ground-breaking technologies,” she said.

“Demand for new aircraft is at record levels – around 45,000 new aircraft and 40,000 helicopters are needed between now and 2032, worth over $5 trillion. This will provide billions of pounds of work to the UK economy given our leading capability in wings, engines, helicopters, advanced systems and services.

“Getting this right will deliver economic benefit through our large, mid-sized and small companies across the breadth of the country.”

Together the government and industry will initially fund four projects to support aerospace R&D with guidance from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

The projects include £7.2 million for Airbus to research wing surface imperfections, £5m to explore how the Internet of Things and other emerging technologies can help the sector, £6.4m to research automated assembly and £4.4m for high volume manufacturing.

The aerospace centre will serve as a hub for companies to develop new materials for use in planes, jet engines and helicopters. Meanwhile, the 3D printing centre will produce new products for aircraft landing gear, automotive and medical devices.

In other aerospace news, US air travel firm Rise has announced a plan to bring its private flight-sharing model to the UK, which will disrupt the British sharing economy even further.