AMRC Cymru joins UWTSD on a mission to boost Welsh manufacturing

By Lucy Beddall, SMART Digital Accelerator and Matt Booth, AMRC Cymru
Wednesday, May 11, 2022

SMART Digital Accelerator is a team of industry expert advisers who work with manufacturers in Wales to help them identify the right technology to boost their bottom line.

The project is funded by Welsh Government, delivered by University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) and supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Cymru). 

AMRC Cymru works with UWTSD across a number of projects in Wales, and this latest collaboration boosts the expertise and reach of the SMART Digital Accelerator project.

We caught up with Matt Booth at AMRC Cymru and asked him a bit more about their involvement.

Matt Booth, AMRC Cymru


My name is Matt Booth and my job role at AMRC Cymru is Engineering Support Lead, but I am also the Project Lead for the SMART Digital Accelerator project at AMRC Cymru. I have 25 years of experience working within various engineering and manufacturing sectors and I have been working at AMRC Cymru since 2019.

What is the role of AMRC Cymru?

AMRC Cymru is a £20m, cutting-edge R&D facility, part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and a member of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, a consortium of leading manufacturing and process research centres backed by Innovate UK.

Our goal is to help the region’s manufacturing community access advanced technologies that will drive improvements in productivity, performance, sustainability, and quality. Our ability to draw on the proven R&D talent of the University of Sheffield AMRC and the seven-member HVM Catapult, provides immediate strength in depth to support the Welsh Government in its ambition to make North Wales the epicentre of innovation-driven advanced manufacturing.

Why is AMRC Cymru involved in the SMART Digital Accelerator project?

Through the SMART Digital Accelerator project, AMRC Cymru wants to help companies de-risk their innovation journey when introducing or increasing existing digital technologies throughout their whole business structure to give quantifiable short and long-term benefits. We want to prove to companies that digitalisation does not mean a complete step change, at huge cost, for the business but that real impact can be achieved through the step-by-step implementation of digital and automated tools.

Why is it important for manufacturers to look at adopting new technology?

Despite the UK’s position as one of the top ten manufacturing economies of the world (9th place — 1.8% of global output), it is noticeable that our manufacturers are slower to adopt and exploit new manufacturing technologies than our global competitors. In these uncertain and disruptive times, manufacturers are faced with the huge challenge of increasing their productivity and competitiveness while at the same time meeting environmental sustainability targets, reducing susceptibility to rising energy prices, and developing more flexible and resilient supply chains. It is the AMRC’s belief that digital technologies are key tools in helping manufacturers meet these challenges and help them navigate these troubled waters.

What sort of companies have you been speaking to as part of the project?

We have been speaking to manufacturing companies of all sizes, across all sectors, from the medical sector to the food and drink sector and micro businesses who see the opportunity in embracing digital technologies early or increasing their digital technology adoption to help their company grow and succeed.

What are the challenges that they face?

From speaking to several companies, I believe some of the main challenges are that they do not fully understand how adopting new technologies could benefit their company. They see it as too high a risk to pursue and embrace fully. Therefore, AMRC Cymru believes that this SMART Digital Accelerator project is a great Welsh Government initiative to help companies take that first step or speed-up their digital technology.

What do you hope will be the outcomes of your engagement with them?

We hope that after our engagement with these companies they have a better understanding of which direction they should head on their digital journey to best suit their business needs and future aspirations which will give them greater and sustained success going forward.

Richard Morgan, Project Lead and Head of Innovation and Engagement at UWTSD says, “The SMART Digital Accelerator is a great way for Welsh companies to explore how advances in technology can enhance productivity and improve competitiveness. The teams at UWTSD and AMRC Cymru are working very closely to deliver impact in this area. Working alongside Matt and his team is a real pleasure, and the project certainly benefits from the combined expertise of both organisations.”

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