Case Study: Innovation Roadmapping for Advanced Manufacturing in Northern Ireland

About

As part of the £98m funding package Belfast Region City Deal, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) operates as a bridge between the advanced manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland and academic institutions and providers.  This project was undertaken to provide a focused sector-level plan fully attuned to the needs of industry.

The project objectives were to Define the strategic support agenda for AMIC.

Assignment

An engaging innovation process was designed and facilitated in part using the research of the world-leading Institute of Manufacturing at Cambridge University. These were tailored to the exact needs of AMIC and the 100 business and innovation leaders who attended the series of two-day workshops.  The sectors represented included aerospace, automotive, mechanical handling, electrical, healthcare, process and food and drink; as well as automation providers, consultancies and other relevant services.

This work was undertaken by association with IfM Engage the knowledge transfer unit of the IfM at the University of Cambridge by providing design, facilitation and subject-matter expertise.

The IfM Engage team, of which I was a co-lead, designed and facilitated an innovation process to develop options for economic gain, prioritised the highest potential and developed preliminary business cases.

From start to finish, the typical project duration is 4-6 months.

Process

A series of stakeholder interviews were conducted with senior leaders across the sectors to give a wide scan of the opportunities, threats and solutions. Next, a two-day workshop was convened with 50 representatives from industry, academia and government. The main innovation approaches used in the workshop were business ecosystem mapping and strategic roadmapping.

After the workshop, the evidence-gathering stage, the outputs produced by the workshop participants were turned into a high-quality report for all those stakeholders with an interest.

Project co-lead Rob Munro said,  “For clients, these projects provide a rigorous evidence base for influencing their stakeholders, and future funders and collaborators.  A report is the real starting point and it sets up the client lead for the best possible chance of success.”

 

Results

Several high-level themes were identified where AMIC and the advanced manufacturing community can work together to generate significant long-term economic impact. This helped AMIC and – when applied to other centres like it, to deliver on the promise to funders, investors and policymakers.

  • Six key themes were identified as priorities for AMIC, assessed as offering very substantial and persistent medium- to long-term improvement in Northern Ireland’s global advanced manufacturing competitiveness.
  • Four themes were assessed as being able to be readily adopted by the supply chain or adopted with concerted efforts by government and industry, as the capability already exists.
  • Two themes were assessed as more challenging, as delegates were uncertain whether concerted investment by government and industry will realise that capability. Subsequent discussions indicated that these themes offer an opportunity for NI to take a lead in developing capability in concert with the wider UK.

Read more details about the case study here.

And you can download the full report here.

 

Client comments about the work

“Engaging with IfM, including its industrial associates Rob Munro and Andrew Gill, was welcomed by all stakeholders across industry, government, and academia to deliver the AMIC Strategic Technology Roadmap 2022. IfM’s experience, together with an impartial and balanced approach, was vital to the success of this exercise. With a strong focus on industry engagement in workshops and one-to-one interviews with strategic stakeholders, they have delivered a Strategic Technology Roadmap to AMIC, informed by industry-driving industry needs. The report has established a blueprint which will guide AMIC’s future strategy and investment while also informing current and future academic research and helping guide essential government support. We look forward to continued engagement with IFM as we evolve and update the Strategic Technology Roadmap.” Colm Higgins, Head of Northern Ireland Technology Centre, Chair of the AMIC Strategic Technology Road Mapping Working Group

Professor Paul Maropoulos, AMIC Project Director, said: “We are working collaboratively with industry to ensure that AMIC, which will be Northern Ireland’s national centre for advanced manufacturing, will support companies to significantly accelerate levels of innovation.  The Roadmap is a valuable document highlighting the needs of the local manufacturing sector for the next decade and will shape the decisions that we make around AMIC to ensure that it is a springboard for manufacturing in the region.” See Press Release.

Sam Turner, the incoming CEO of AMIC, said: “Northern Ireland has world-leading manufacturing expertise in sectors including materials handling, aerospace, and life sciences, and has strong underpinning capabilities including photonics, digital, design and composites. Now is the time to look at the future technology and skills needs of the region and capitalise on areas of strength. There is a massive opportunity for AMIC to link at scale into UK-wide networks to support the manufacturing sector and through working in partnership with the newly formed Industry Board, we will deliver what is needed to reinvigorate Northern Ireland’s industrial potential.”

 

Want to know more?

Read Here about the process to quickly but rigorously produce a strategic roadmap for your organisation. If you are interested in Technology Planning read Here about the approach.

Rob Munro is an innovation strategist and consultant focussing on improving innovation results within organisations. Please get in touch with me to discuss ways to bring greater effectiveness to your innovation and technology management processes.