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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S036091/1
Title: UK Manufacturing Symbiosis NetworkPlus (UKMSN+)
Principal Investigator: Batista, Dr LC
Other Investigators:
Zisman, Professor A Maull, Professor R Georgiou, Professor TK
Kumar, Dr MM
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Birmingham City Council CONFIRM - Centre for Smart Manufacturing High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult
International Synergies Ltd STFC Laboratories (Grouped) The Manufacturing Technology Centre Ltd
WMG Catapult
Department: College of Business and Social Sciences
Organisation: Aston University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2019 Ends: 31 March 2023 Value (£): 892,577
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Industrial Organisation (R&D)
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
14 May 2019 Manufacturing Highlight Notice for Network Plus Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Industrial symbiosis is a fundamental building block of the circular economy, for it provides a means to generate industrial competitiveness and sustainability through the creation of manufacturing ecosystems involving networks of organisations that generate new economic value through the continuous exchange of resources (materials and energy).

Manufacturing firms are embracing the opportunities of circular economy approaches as a means to save costs, prevent disruptions in materials input and generate additional revenue from waste streams. Despite the increase in circular economy practices within key manufacturing sectors (food, automotive, electronics, plastics, etc.), the industrial symbiosis capability of the UK manufacturing industry as a whole is still underexploited, with most of the circular economy initiatives being developed in sectoral silos. This fragmented condition holds the economy back from achieving better circular economy performance overall. To unlock the untapped circular economy potential of the manufacturing industry in the UK, a cross-sectoral industrial symbiosis approach is timely and necessary.

To address this gap we propose the creation of the UK Manufacturing Symbiosis NetworkPlus (UKMSN+), which will promote, support, facilitate and stimulate the creation of a UK-wide community of academics and practitioners who will address the challenges above mentioned with basis on the central question of 'how the industrial symbiosis capability of the UK manufacturing industry as a whole can be galvanised within sectors and fertilised across sectors?'

The UKMSN+ will adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to exploiting enabling mechanisms and tools to facilitate and support the development of industrial symbiosis synergies in the UK manufacturing industry, this way improving the overall circular economy competence and competitiveness of manufacturing businesses across key sectors of the economy.

The development of manufacturing symbiosis 'capabilities' aimed at enabling industrial transformations toward the circular economy calls for scientific advancements and innovations in three domains: Business models, Digital systems, and Materials. These three domains represent key enablers of the circular economy, as they respectively refer to production, technological and resource capabilities that have direct impact on the modus operandi of manufacturing organisations. Structural elements such as the quality of logistics and transport systems, collaborative business relationships, policy and regulations are also critical factors to enable circular economy capabilities. The underlying manufacturing symbiosis topic of the network provides a clear and well-defined field of manufacturing research for the network to focus its activities in a cohesive way.

The activities of the network will establish the basis for the development of further research that can promote significant scientific and practical advancements on manufacturing symbiosis capabilities that enable deeper, rather than peripheral, industrial transformations toward the circular economy. Our view is that the manufacturing industry in the UK has a significant, but latent, potential to accelerate the shift to the circular economy. The network will strengthen the manufacturing industry contribution to circular economy research, praxis, strategy and policy making by establishing a common field and a unique world-leading forum to amalgamate multi-disciplinary knowledge on production models, digital technologies and materials science purposefully aimed at the circular economy.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.aston.ac.uk