On Wednesday 24 October 2012, representatives from the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA), BAE Systems and the Universities of Manchester, Lancaster, Salford, Central Lancashire, Liverpool – including the Virtual Engineering Centre – and National Nuclear Laboratories met as Delivery Partners to officially launch the GAMMA Programme. The Growing Autonomous Mission Management Applications (GAMMA) is a three year £9.1 million, Autonomous Systems programme aimed at driving SME engagement and developing technology within the emerging autonomous systems markets.
Activity in the programme will receive £4.42m of RGF funding and £4.6m of in kind contribution from the delivery partners. The programme will primarily concentrate on the end users of Autonomous Systems, and will assure that both the North West region and the wider UK are in a strong position to capitalise on the developing market. This builds on existing academic and manufacturing competencies to create a competitive sub-national capability in Autonomous Systems. GAMMA will focus on the three key areas below:
1. Job creation in SME’s
2. Technology development and business growth
3. Development of a future generation supply chain
Autonomous Systems are technology based solutions for replacing humans in tasks that are mundane, dangerous and dirty, or detailed and precise across sectors including aerospace, nuclear, automotive and petrochemicals. GAMMA will deliver sustainable economic growth and high value employment within manufacturing and science prioritised sectors by developing autonomous systems technologies for commercial applications in a partnership between businesses and academia. The programme will:
- Examine user requirements for military and other civil applications and demonstrate these to end users
- Define a technology need road map for the applications
- Develop technology supply chains leading to application development and demonstration
- Identify SMEs with relevant technologies to this emerging market, to allow them to develop and grow their workforce
- Leverage incubation facilities in the academic spheres of Manchester, Liverpool, including the Virtual Engineering Centre, Salford, Lancaster and UCLAN.
- Create high science, high GVA, high growth jobs.
- Create a visionary infrastructure and cross sector alignment.
- Forge integrated links with national capability.
This technology development programme will create an SME focussed next generation, science based, knowledge-generating supply chain; less vulnerable to low cost economy migration. The programme will safeguard at least 17 jobs and lead to the creation of circa 200 indirect jobs.
It will open up opportunities for SMEs to market their technologies in a new and emerging sector that is otherwise very difficult to access. This new market will provide a sustainable business for SMEs in software upgrades, maintenance and sensing technology and create revenue fo them through licensing agreements. It will also create opportunities for the SMEs to exploit matured IP in other market areas.
GAMMA will engage with SMEs in the autonomous systems supply chain offering them mentoring and technology development support to enter the market and exploit new technology platforms primarily with existing technologies which can be developed jointly with lead partners to support autonomous systems.