BT to support development of low-carbon tech solutions for manufacturing sector

BT launched the Platform in 2020

The telecommunications giant has today (17 February) announced that the second phase of its Green Tech Innovation Platform will be focused on the development of sustainability solutions for businesses manufacturing fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). This focus was chosen because FMCG is the UK’s largest manufacturing sub-sector.

Through the initiative, BT will work with scale-up companies in the UK and Europe on solutions that reduce emissions by increasing energy and resource efficiency, or by enabling the uptake of circular economy solutions that drive resource efficiency across the value chain.

Support will also be provided for digital solutions that improve modelling, scenario analyses and planning.

In all three focus areas, the focus will be on “advanced” digital technologies such as 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

BT will work with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, based in Coventry, to deliver the initiative. Scale-ups will need to apply and be selected by both organisations to participate, with successful applicants set to be announced in spring. Selected scale-ups will be invited to partner with BT on R&D and delivering proof of concepts.

“We recognise manufacturing has a vital role in driving down carbon emission,” said the Manufacturing Technology Centre’s director of technology Joseph Darlington.

“Being part of BT’s Green Tech Innovation Platform initiative is an excellent opportunity for the Centre to contribute to the development of digital green technology and the technology supply chain we believe will be transformational to the manufacturing sector.  We invite the FMCG industry to engage with us and become part of this mission of delivering smarter factories and positive impact on the environment.”

Spotlight on manufacturing

Pre-pandemic, the UK’s manufacturing sector accounted for around 14% of national annual emissions.

The All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) and thinktank Policy Connect last year published a report outlining the case for a new national programme, called ‘Made Smarter’, that would support and mandate UK-based manufacturers to align their operations and value chains with net-zero by prioritising efficiency in-house in the near-term.

The report stipulates that, by improving energy, resource and process efficiency alone to match the best-in-class, the UK’s manufacturing sector could become 24% more profitable while slashing annual emissions by 9%. At the same time, it could generate 30% more new jobs.

Subsequently, the COP26 unit published an open letter to manufacturing firms, urging them to set net-zero targets for 2050 at the latest and to pledge to halve emissions by 2030. That letter points to the SME Climate Hub and to MakeUK’s ‘Demystifying Net-Zero’ paper.

Sarah George


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