Boost for advanced manufacturing; UK business consortium winner of £5m “Composites grand challenge”

01 Apr 2010

A consortium of 23 companies led by GKN Aerospace has today been announced as the winner of a unique competition for a £5 million prize awarded to British business to develop innovative composite manufacturing techniques for high-performance, high-value products.

The three-stage Composites Grand Challenge was managed by the Technology Strategy Board on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which funded the competition through the Strategic Investment Fund. Launched by the Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, in November 2009 as part of the Government's Composites Strategy, the competition saw UK companies receive initial funding for feasibility studies, with the best then invited to develop and test their concept before the £5m prize was awarded to the winning proposal.

The winning proposal, "Inspirational Composite Technologies," came from a consortium led by GKN Aerospace - the National Composites Centre Consortium - which involves 23 companies and organisations from a range of sectors including marine, automotive and aerospace. Together with funding from these companies the winning proposal will result in a £10m investment in advanced composites manufacturing in the UK.

Explaining the background to the competition, Dr John Morlidge, Lead Technologist for Advanced Materials at the Technology Strategy Board, said:

"Part of the objective was to encourage business collaboration, aiming to create a new force for innovation in a rather fragmented sector. We are delighted to see a strong and diverse consortium winning the prize, involving companies from different sectors - some of them even competitors. These partners have found a way to work together to look at wider problems facing their industry around affordable, rapid and sustainable manufacturing."

"It is essential that UK industry capitalises on the unique properties of composites and seizes the opportunities from a growing global market for advanced composites products including aircraft wings, wind turbine blades, car components and many other applications. Most composites industries worldwide lack the technology to manufacture large structures cost effectively. This is the Grand Challenge - finding innovative approaches and sharing them across UK industry will deliver a major boost to the country's leadership in this area."

Commenting on the win, Rich Oldfield, Technical Director at consortium leader GKN Aerospace said:

"GKN is very pleased that the National Composites Centre Consortium has been awarded the Grand Challenge prize. It is a unique opportunity to collaborate closely with partners across a wide range of sectors. The programme will inspire the delivery to market of high performance, high value products from the UK advanced composites industry."

The winning consortium now has a year to work on the Grand Challenge, demonstrate advances and begin to commercially exploit the development.Ends

For full press release including notes to editors, please follow this link

Companies and other organisations seeking further information about Technology Strategy Board research and development funding opportunities should visit the Competitions page of the Technology Strategy Board website -, email or phone the Competitions Helpline on 0300 321 4357.

Media contact until 5pm Thursday 1st April
Claire Cunningham, Media Relations Manager
Tel: 01793 442901
Mob: 07554 115745

Additional contact
Paul Whittemore, Head of Communications
Tel: 01793 442769
Mob: 07824 599632

Contact from 6th April
Nick Sheppard, Media Consultant
Mobile: 07824599644



Last updated on Friday 30 July 2010 at 14:00

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