InterAct is a £4.4 million, Made Smarter Innovation funded, Economic and Social Research Council-led network that aims to bring together economic and social scientists, UK manufacturers, policymakers, and digital technology providers to address the human issues resulting from the diffusion of new technologies in industry.

Our long-term vision is to build a strong, vibrant, interdisciplinary community to support UK manufacturing in the adoption and development of digital technologies that will result in a stronger, more resilient, manufacturing base.

This project offers clear advantages for the economy, manufacturers, and technology providers, whilst also supporting academic communities within economic and social sciences. These researchers will benefit from the creation of an inclusive community, embracing diversity, and finding innovative ways to inspire cross-disciplinary investigation.

In order to achieve this vision, we recognise the importance of bringing together industry and academia, not just focusing on the technology challenges, but also providing actionable human-focused insights to stakeholders to better enable successful digitalisation in manufacturing.

How does InterAct support MSI?

We hope that collaborative working, new challenges, and contexts will open up new avenues for world leading research. Looking to the future, our aspiration for InterAct is a community, with clear added value for all, where stakeholder groups want to engage and be part of InterAct.

Our vision of success is that InterAct is seen as a partner of choice – easy to work with, welcoming, and professional. Ultimately, we would like to be seen as a one-stop shop which curates existing & emerging knowledge and capabilities (research and education) and showcases leading practice. InterAct would be an example of successful interdisciplinary working to which other nations aspire.

To achieve this vision, we recognise the importance of bringing industry and academia together. Addressing not only the technology challenges, but the associated economic and social issues too. Economic and social sciences will help to ensure we assess the environment when looking to deploy digital technologies.

The InterAct project will act as a conduit to curate, amplify and augment insights from the economic and social sciences (ESS) to support the Made Smarter Innovation challenge  (MSI) objectives to:

  • Increase UK manufacturing sector investment in industrial digitalisation R&D and increase the innovation and diffusion of Industrial Digital Technologies (IDT). Insights from the economic and social sciences will help manufacturing firms to assess the risk, make the business case, and provide insights on the management practices that will enable successful adoption.
  • Increase cross-sector collaboration between UK manufacturing sectors to drive the creation of common digital solutions by working with manufacturing firms to identify the underlying mechanisms and management practices within a specific solution and providing a forum for sharing those mechanisms with other sectors, to enable the sharing of leading practices.
  • Increase the number of digital technology companies providing solutions for manufacturing industries by improving the visibility of technology providers to manufacturing companies and facilitating the relationships to understand the barriers and drivers to successful technology adoption.
  • Increase the number of collaborations between SMEs and larger, more established companies up the value chain by facilitating the connection between SMEs and larger customers and using economic and social scientists to provide insights to mediate the relationships.
  • Increase the potential for export of UK manufacturing and digital manufacturing solutions by understanding the economic landscape and the policy drivers that would support this ambition, in addition to the capabilities firms require to support exports.

Economic and social scientists will benefit from the creation of an inclusive community seeking innovative ways to embed their expertise more effectively within interdisciplinary research. Successful integration of ESS with science and engineering disciplines is vital to enable the adoption of future digital technologies.

We aspire to embed diversity and inclusivity. Diversity of thought will bring benefits of multiple perspectives. The core principle of inclusivity helps us to embrace and collaborate with existing research groupings, rather than compete with them. Participation is based on expertise, not status, and we want to develop people at all stages of their careers.

If you still have questions about InterAct, you can review our FAQs or contact us at info@interact-hub.org.