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West of England to get £10m digital engineering centre

A new Centre for Digital Engineering, Technology and Innovation is to be set up in the west of England to advance the digital engineering revolution.

The centre, to be known as DETI, was awarded £5m in funding at the end of January from the West of England Combined Authority, to match-fund £5m from west of England businesses at the forefront of industry. The flagship investment forms a key strand of the region’s local industrial strategy and is a step towards the aim of creating a Global centre of innovation excellence.

DETI, expected to be fully operational by May, is a research, innovation and skills initiative bringing together industry and academic partners led by the National Composites Centre to develop and accelerate digital engineering in multiple industry sectors. The NCC is a crucial partner in the Airbus Wing of Tomorrow R&D programme.

DETI aims to provide “a focal point for industry, researchers, educators and technology providers to create new tools and techniques to transform key aspects of advanced engineering and systems integration.” It will develop technologies, tools and skills in three areas: design – developing digital design tools and processes based on advanced simulation and artificial intelligence; digital manufacturing – advancing the application of digital and automation technologies to improve manufacturing productivity; and skills and workforce development.

The project will develop training courses in advanced digital engineering, with the aim of increasing skills, including thoae of the current workforce, as well as engaging with schools, particularly in less affluent areas, seeking to inspire 1,000 children to pursue a career in digital engineering.

It will be based in existing facilities at the National Composites Centre, and the Centre for Modelling and Simulation at Bristol and Bath science park.

Businesses investing in DETI include the NCC, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, GKN, Baker Hughes, CFMS and UWE, with Siemens and Toshiba providing contributions in kind.

West of England mayor Tim Bowles said: “Our region is a global leader in high value design and innovation, and we want to make sure we retain that position. DETI will help us do that by putting the West of England at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution and bringing together the worlds of digital technology and advanced engineering. DETI will be a nationally important centre, helping to secure the future of the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries.”