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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M017559/1
Title: RDM Healthcare Research Network
Principal Investigator: Phillips, Professor WE
Other Investigators:
Sharples, Professor S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Faculty of Business and Law
Organisation: University of the West of England
Scheme: Network
Starts: 03 February 2015 Ends: 31 December 2017 Value (£): 467,417
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufact. Enterprise Ops& Mgmt Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Oct 2014 RDM Networks Announced
26 Nov 2014 RDM Networks Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
'Re-distributed manufacture' (RDM) is defined as: Technology, systems and strategies that change the economics and organisation of manufacturing, particularly with regard to location and scale. The potential for smaller-scale local manufacturing (RDM) and its contribution to UK GDP was made clear at the EPSRC Re-Distributed Manufacturing Workshop in November 2013. As the Workshop report concluded, successful implementation in UK industry presents many challenges and opportunities. The creation of a series of Networks to explore and define these issues, and the research agenda required to resolve them, is a timely approach to harnessing the expertise of a multidisciplinary community into a future coherent research initiative.

Our focus on manufacture of healthcare devices and therapies reflects the socio-economic importance of healthcare within the UK. The NHS has a turnover of some £121bn in the UK and serves a population of around 64m citizens - marginal advances in technology and services can have large impacts. Healthcare technologies are an EPSRC Challenge theme. The proposed RDM in Healthcare Network's (RiHN) objectives will support all four of the strategic priorities identified by EPSRC (novel treatment and therapeutic technologies; enhanced prediction and diagnosis in real time at the point-of-care; technologies for a healthy life course; and design, manufacture and integration of healthcare technologies).

RDM may change the delivery of healthcare products, enhancing national competitiveness and citizen well-being through: a) Cost reduction through terminal customisation or delayed manufacture based upon flexible intermediate products; b) Just-in-time delivery, particularly of perishable healthcare goods, c) Reduction of operational overheads by sharing support services between local manufacturing hubs, d) Management of capacity by distributing production through scale-out, rather than scale-up, e) Avoidance of placing high up-front capital cost at risk by building small production units in response to increase in demand instead of single large factories.

There are key challenges to realising these benefits: Technical needs must meet the appropriate regulatory standard; new training patterns must be established to maintain operating quality from a distance; social and inter-personal features must be addressed to enhance quality of life, incorporating quality assurance into the business structures; new customer-supplier relationships must be forged.

RiHN aims to explore these challenges and incentives and will be led by a multi-disciplinary team drawn from manufacturing, management, human factors and healthcare technologies, combining the expertise required from both the social sciences and engineering. The consortium has experience in delivery of major national networks and research centres and will build on the established relationships that the team have with industry, clinical networks, the NHS, regulatory bodies, policy-makers, academics and end users.

RiHN aims to develop the research agenda for RDM in healthcare, engaging with relevant academic and user communities through workshops and user engagement events, and through conducting feasibility studies in five distinct areas: 1. Medical Devices; 2. Pharmaceuticals; 3. Advanced Therapeutics (cell and tissue); 4. Dentistry; 5. Diagnostics. In doing so, RiHN intends to establish a community of practice for RDM in Healthcare, outlining the future direction for research, which will be published in a white paper. The outputs of RiHN will also be disseminated through a website, presentations at relevant national and international conferences, participation at other RDM Network events and research centres and a Special Issue journal (Journal of Operations Management) presenting the findings of the feasibility studies. A final report will be produced, sent electronically to all interested parties, and made available on RiHN's website.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.uwe.ac.uk