InterAct Actionable Insights Fund – successful projects announced

Insights from history on the new industrial revolution

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Ahmad Beltagui – Aston University


Dr. Brian Sudlow – Aston University

Dr. Miying Yang – Cranfield University

Project Outline:

The aim of the project is to communicate actionable insights from social science research on technology adoption, by creating a repository of digital stories on historical industrial transitions. The project will expand the Insights from History series of animated digital stories that resulted from a systematic literature review.

The project will use historical precedents to identify actionable insights about the factors that matter for IDT adoption. It will focus on conveying these insights to SMEs in particular, drawing on strong institutional links with SMEs. Creating short, informative and accessible videos has the potential to communicate findings most clearly to SME leaders and contribute to the desired impacts on successful IDT adoption.

The valorisation of the PrOH Modelling Methodology for the human-centred digitization of the Rolls-Royce Aerospace plc extended enterprise

Principal Investigator:

Professor Ben Clegg – Aston University


Dr. Krishna Balthu – Aston University

Dr. Ehsan Eslamian – Aston University

Project Outline:

This project will build on capabilities in systems thinking and action research developed at Aston University – specifically the PrOH modelling methodology – to increase its impact outside academia. PrOH modelling is a systems thinking action research approach used to understand complex organisational issues, stimulate innovative thinking to improve organisational issues and implement effective solutions.

PrOH modelling is a form of soft systems methodology specifically designed to affect change in organisational strategy, people, culture, technology and operations through a human centred approach. To date the PrOH modelling methodology has had in-depth success led by experts in small volume. This InterAct project is focused on commercialising the PrOH Modelling Methodology for training, teaching and practice, to achieve a more widespread use.

AI with Impact: A guide for CEOs

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Viktor Dörfler – University of Strathclyde

Project Outline:

The project aims to help business leaders with getting AI implementations right, as an astonishingly high proportion of AI implementations (various sources put it between 50-80%) are either a failure or do not deliver the desired outcomes. Examining underlying reasons that are fundamentally human not technological, the project team hopes to correct unrealistic expectations towards AI resulting from the lack of understanding of what AI actually can and cannot deliver.

Project outputs will help improve AI implementation quality and thus increase investment in AI in the UK manufacturing sector. Dr. Dörfler seeks to assist manufacturing in learning from other sectors and vice versa through increased understanding of the variety of AI solutions. Helping smaller AI solution providers make suitable offers to large, established companies and indirectly help increase the international competitiveness of UK organisations.

Design and evaluation of a brochure outlining the toolkit for responsible and inclusive digital transformation

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Vladislav Grozev – University of Sheffield


Dr. Hui Zhang – University of Sheffield

Professor Carolyn Axtell – University of Sheffield

Professor Karina Nielsen – University of Sheffield

Project Outline:

The aim of this project is to produce an extensive brochure informing relevant stakeholders about the availability and purpose of a toolkit for responsible and inclusive digital transformation, including:

(1) A structured process for involving multidisciplinary teams across different departments and stakeholders at different levels of an organisation in responsible co-design

(2) Exercises for co-creating acceptable future scenarios for working with the digital change (including consideration of job design).

(3) A survey tool for measuring digital attitudes, and generating action plans to enhance trust and adoption of the change.

The toolkit contains guidelines for organisations in relation to the structured process (i.e., the five-stage process, principles of responsible design/stakeholder involvement, guidance on potential action plans) – as well as provide guidelines for how to use the specific tools (scenarios tool and digital attitudes tool). Overall, the toolkit will help organisations action the insights gained from research on responsible innovation and socio-technical change.

Disseminating insights regarding the management and governance of Open Innovation projects for IDT providers

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Andrei Gurca – Queens University Belfast


Dr. Kate Broadhurst – Loughborough University

Project Outline:

As the complexity of IDT development projects increases and numerous, highly interdependent elements, components and subsystems interact to deliver functionality, many firms lack the knowledge and capabilities to complete their projects independently. Therefore, firms are increasingly engaging in purposeful, collaborative efforts with different business partners (i.e., open innovation) at various stages of their complex projects. The benefits of opening up to business partners include access to valuable external resources, risk sharing, reduced costs, and improved time-to-market.

The project aims to engage business leaders and representative bodies and organisations like the Chamber of Commerce, Local Enterprise Partnerships in the creation of their actionable insights through a series of workshops targeted at demystifying the processes of open innovation for businesses and policymakers. Further materials will be made available via the InterAct resource repository and at additional events in 2024.

FASHTRAX: Knowledge Exchange Platform

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Hilde Heim – Manchester Fashion Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University


Julie Hodson – Manchester Fashion Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University

Project Outline:

Researchers from the Manchester Fashion Institute’s Textiles Transparency Team (MFITT) are seeking to create an online knowledge exchange platform called FASHTRAX. The platform aims to be an industry facing, fashion transparency innovation exchange site for the dissemination of Manchester Fashion Institute’s research and innovations in the field of digitalising supply chain transparency.

The project is responding to findings that garment manufacturers are seeking guidance on how to adopt and integrate digital technologies in a non-disruptive way into their existing operations. The current fundamental lack of transparency and visibility throughout the various stages of the supply chain is one of the most significant barriers preventing organisations from implementing more sustainable, accountable practices.

The FASHTRAX knowledge exchange platform will signpost several emerging technology providers, such as those offering blockchain, AI, and sensors – that digitalise the supply chain’s key processes in addition to research on implementation to help organisations achieve these aims.

An interactive online tool for prioritising verification, validation and testing activities to support human decision-making

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Khadija Tahera – The Open University

Project Outline:

The development of new digital technology needs extensive verification, validation and testing (VV&T). An effective way of analysing the requirements of different stakeholders, i.e., the customer’s voice, regulations and business’s voice and how these requirements must be considered in the VV&T planning for new technology, is significantly challenging.

This project aims to develop a systematic method of analysing critical requirements and influences on the VV&T activity for new technology development and manufacturing, which will support the adoption of digital technologies and facilitate collaboration between SMEs and larger companies.

Dr. Tahera will be developing a tool designed to help manufacturers and SMEs map customer and regulatory requirements to technical requirements and VV&T activities, and prioritise VV&T activities based on risk and importance. The tool will provide actionable insights that will help manufacturers make informed decisions about testing, potentially saving time and costs in VV&T planning and decision-making.

Using the Reflective Goal Setting Model to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies by enhancing digital readiness in UK manufacturing

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Cheryl Travers – Loughborough University


Dr. Elaine Conway – Loughborough University

Sandra Huskinson – Coventry University

Project Outline:

Leaders’ personal and interpersonal skills and the ability to set goals are increasingly in demand due to the impact they can have on organisational success and employee performance, motivation, and wellbeing. The manufacturing sector is no exception. However, development of these skills often falls far short of expectations, with poor transfer of learning post-training. Traditional goal setting approaches have limited effectiveness in the development and utilisation of ‘softer’ yet crucial leadership and management interpersonal skills

The key purpose of this project is to take the established and evidence-based model of Reflective Goal Setting (RGS) and to develop actionable insights in the form of a toolkit, an animated video, and a discovery phase blueprint for an RGS app – specifically to facilitate the successful adoption of, and adaptation to, digital technologies. The project will explore the potential barriers to adoption that may result from a potential lack of suitable and relevant skills, lack of and/or prior experience, limiting mindsets, worry and anxiety, and unsuitable behaviours.

Enabling Digital Transformation for SMEs: an Industry 4.0 Open Innovation Platform

Principal Investigator:

Professor Beverly Wagner – University of Strathclyde


Dr. Natalie McDougall – University of Strathclyde

Project Outline:

The unprecedented changes of increasing digitalisation in parallel with the challenges organisations face in adoption and implementation of Industry 4.0 are the driving forces behind this project. There is a need to enable collaboration and co-creation to drive digital transformation.

New requirements related to customer experience and needs alongside value and efficiency improvements necessitate digital transformation. This can be enabled via adoption and implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies, such as big data analytics, blockchain, Internet of Things, intelligent products, sensors, robotics, adaptive manufacturing, and many others. However, whilst this is becoming an imperative for organisations, SMEs may be hindered by a lack of resources and capabilities.

The project team will develop a platform using virtual collaborative sharing tools, which will be accessible via an Open Innovation webpage. Key insights taken from the longitudinal study of Open Innovation adoption and Knowledge Transfer Partnership on Open Innovation practices will shape an interactive toolkit comprising the following:

  • A best practice guide to aid the business community select an appropriate open innovation business model and understand the process and requirements at each level for ideation through to commercialisation.
  • Case studies presented by key stakeholder organisations that detail factors that influence open innovation implementation and technological uptake.
  • Methodologies of Industry 4.0 adoption from keynote industry speakers.
  • Collaborative tools, activities, and co-creation spaces to support the development of relevant capabilities adoption and implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies.

InterAct Systematic Reviews second funding round – successful projects announced

InterAct is pleased to announce the recipients of our second round of Systematic Review funding. These two projects are led by Dr. Dalila Ribaudo of Aston University and Dr. Nikolai Kazantsev of the Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge. The projects will focus on topics relating to ‘Manufacturing in the metaverse’ and ‘Perceptions of manufacturing’.

Manufacturing in the metaverse: Conceptual model and future research directions

Principal Investigator:

Professor Chander Velu – Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge.

Lead researcher:

Dr. Nikolai Kazantsev – Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge.

Project Outline:

The industrial metaverse uses ‘virtual and augmented reality to blend the physical and digital worlds to transform how businesses design, manufacture and interact with objects’.

The project aims to provide a coherent interdisciplinary summary of established knowledge from academia and practice on the application and potential benefits of a metaverse in manufacturing, mainly focusing on bridging technical and social insights.

The specific objectives are:

  1. To clarify the terminology, technologies, and roles the metaverse can play in manufacturing.
  2. To derive the barriers, drivers and benefits of adopting the metaverse for individuals, firms, the manufacturing ecosystem and the economy.
  3. To summarise a conceptual model and outline future research directions of an industrial metaverse in manufacturing.

The industrial metaverse is often explored solely from a technological perspective despite being a fast-growing field of study in various domains. As a result, complex terms and concepts are misinterpreted by the industry, resulting in an overlapping stack of technologies and, therefore, unclear evidence of the application of the concept in manufacturing.

By investigating overlooked social and economic factors behind metaverse applications, the project aims unlock the virtual space for goods manufacturing and transaction, and discover how the interactions between firms and customers happen.

The team is open for collaborations on this research. Please contact if you are interested.

The purpose of a potential collaboration would be to better inform research on the positioning of the metaverse as a technological tool in manufacturing.

The team are keen to hear from:

  • Industrial partners who have already applied some elements of virtual reality or who want to do so soon, but are unclear on how to progress due to the perceived risks or unclear benefits of the technology.
  • This could be technology providers, such as Vuforia, Hololens (MST), Meta or creators of alternative augmented reality glasses.

How to make manufacturing charming again? It is everything, everywhere, all at once.

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Dalila Ribaudo – Aston University


Dr. Guendalina Anzolin – University of Cambridge

Dr. Jennifer Castañeda-Navarrete – University of Cambridge

Project Outline:

The aim of this project is to conduct a comprehensive literature review of the perceptions of manufacturing, with a particular emphasis on international industrial strategies.

The team plans to analyse how perceptions of manufacturing have been changing across countries and how governments are taking actions to bring manufacturing back into the policy agenda. One of the main areas where this is happening is the adoption of digital technologies, a field where the changing features of manufacturing are evident.

For example, policy makers need to design industrial strategies that address both the increasingly higher requirement for skilled labour, and firms’ adoption of digital technologies, while also developing strategic sectors, such as semiconductors.

This study will reveal how countries prioritize manufacturing in the context of national and regional industrial strategies (i.e., for example with the levelling up agenda in the UK and the Innovation and Competition Act in the US.

There are four main topics the team will examine that can be linked to negative perceptions on manufacturing:

  1. It is believed to be a declining industry, replaced by services, especially in advanced economies.
  2. Manufacturing is a low-skilled and low-paying employment environment.
  3. Manufacturing is a dirty and polluting industry that harms the environment.
  4. Ideological as well as practical barriers for policymakers to provide sufficient attention to manufacturing.

InterAct takes part in Smart Factory Expo

The InterAct team joined projects from across the Made Smarter Innovation ecosystem in June at Smart Factory Expo, part of Manufacturing and Engineering week. Part of the Made Smarter Innovation stand, InterAct showcased the initial findings of the ‘Perceptions of manufacturing’ survey from the Future of Work team.

Attendees also had the chance to hear from InterAct Co-directors, Professor Jan Godsell and Professor Jillian MacBryde across two sessions in the Innovation Theatre.

Professor MacBryde was invited to chair the Institute for Manufacturing panel discussion ‘Gender and Digital Technologies’, examining the barriers, challenges, and potential solutions to involving more women in the manufacturing environment.

Professor Godsell then delivered an insightful talk on ‘Delivering the digital future we want, together’. This presentation focused the need for self-sufficiency in critical production, lessons from the manufacturing past and the work of the Future of Digital Manufacturing Ecosystems team on analysing scenarios for the future. A full slide deck from the session is available for download here.


Making Things Work: Public Perceptions of UK Manufacturing 2023

In February 2023, the InterAct team based in the Business School at Strathclyde University conducted an online survey asking the opinions of a representative sample of 2100 people across the UK what they think about the attractiveness of modern manufacturing jobs and careers. Their survey is topical and timely, offering academics, policy makers, trade bodies, industry commentators and employers a fresh and stimulating in-depth insight into public opinion about working in this sector at the present time and in the future.

They are primarily interested in what factors shape people’s views on UK manufacturing but we know very little about how people of different gender, ages and ethnicities look at the sector and as a potential career destination of ‘choice’. We know that manufacturing may be associated with some older perceptions of repetitive and insecure job but Industry 4.0 (advanced digital manufacturing) potentially changes future jobs and careers in the sector with a bigger emphasis on having people with innovation, problem-solving, creative and digital skills. To achieve this (and competing against other industries), advanced manufacturers will have to broaden the appeal of the sector to younger or mid-career workers, and people in under-represented groups such as women and minorities.

They asked the UK public questions on some key issues and big debates: the importance of the manufacturing sector for the wider UK economy; the ‘quality’ of manufacturing jobs; and about what work may look like in the years ahead. Will some manufacturers have to give more thought to how they invest in people and support worker engagement, wellbeing and skills? Will new advanced digital manufacturing technologies offer more interesting and rewarding jobs and careers? Alternatively, will more technologies, robotics and AI just generate concerns about jobs, downskilling and security?

These are all key questions that will resonate with a range of audiences. Our survey will stimulate debate, not just about what people think of UK manufacturing today and what factors help shape their interest, uncertainty or antipathy, but what may lie ahead when the emerging worlds of SMART factories, co-bots and augmented reality are drawing ever closer to our workspaces.

The team is looking to stimulate some further debate on the Future of Work in manufacturing. They welcome comment and opinion from a range of industry stakeholders: academics, policy makers, employers and trade unions.

The survey findings will be available in April/May 2023. Before this, they will be publishing a series of short blogs and commentary on some key future of work debates in UK manufacturing. The first of these – ‘Future Workforces – Advanced Manufacturing & Gen Z’ is now available to read.


Open Funding Call – successful applicants announced

In 2022 we launched our biggest funding call yet, offering a total of £400,000 of research funding to split among proposals from the InterAct community.

We were delighted with the response we received, competition was very strong and many teams submitted excellent project proposals. Unfortunately, though we wish we could fund all of them, we could only resource some of these. The nine proposals we elected to finance are:

Battery Passports: Readiness of the UK Battery Manufacturing Sector, Ecosystem Opportunities & Implications for UK Industrial Policy

Principal Investigator:

Melanie King – Loughborough University


Paul Timms – Loughborough University

Project Outline:

“We both come from a Systems Engineering background and we wanted to look at a pressing issue in the form of battery manufacture from a broader ecosystem standpoint.

“A major element of the push for a net-zero world is the adoption of sustainable energy solutions, particularly for things like electric vehicles. Battery technology is a key component of this and it needs to be done right, such that the development of early solutions doesn’t preclude future opportunities and capabilities.

“We want to find out how ready UK manufacturers are to adopt product passport systems and technology into their business models. As a major trading partner, it is important businesses are aware of, and able to achieve standardisation with EU requirements to ensure they can continue to export products.

“Digital product passports are a really interesting technology that can provide increased efficiency, new business models and servitisation opportunities. They enable proactive maintenance, improved customer service and the possibility of greater circularity in business models which offers us exciting ways to achieve impact.”

The potential of coworking spaces to contribute to geographically distributed manufacturing activity and regional levelling up in the UK

Principal Investigator:

Felicia Fai – University of Bath


Mariachiara Barzotto – University of Bath

Phil Tomlinson – University of Bath

Project Outline:

“This project came about as a result of our team’s shared interest in regional development and particularly the levelling up agenda within the UK.

“The development of co-working spaces was already underway before the onset of Covid, but the impact of the pandemic on remote working practices has accelerated this shift. There has been recognition that co-working spaces offer some separation between home and work for those practicing remote work and offer opportunities for social connection and networking. We wanted to further explore this trend, especially light of their growth in suburban areas as people moved out of cities in response to the pandemic.

“Traditionally remote working has been seen by many in the manufacturing sector as impractical given the requirements of physical production, but there are many back office, support, and engineering functions that could be facilitated through co-working spaces. We also plan to examine the impact of ‘maker spaces’ which offer flexible use machinery suitable for early stage testing, fabrication and training to allow more agile manufacturing.”

Exploring remanufacturing practices and business models in the Aerospace Industry: insights from SMEs

Principal Investigator:

Michael Rogerson – University of Surrey


Rachael Lamb – University of Nottingham

Eun Sun Godwin – University of Wolverhampton

Project Outline:

“Our project will be examining the circularity of SMEs’ business models in the UK aerospace industry, specifically targeted towards remanufacturing. In practical terms this means examining the actual processes involved in supply chains and factories, the processes involved in reclaiming materials and recreating new products from existing products. Sometimes this means transitioning them into fuel or melting them down for component elements.

“Net-zero targets play a part in this, but the regulatory obligations aren’t pushing these practices as yet. What we want to get across is that business involvement needs to be ahead of likely requirements as a strategic imperative.

“The impact of aerospace industries on climate is a conversation that’s already prominent in the public domain. There is a temptation to see these corporations as distinct from the general public, but they are made up of people who are part of the general public and will likely share these sentiments. We hope that we can highlight the competitive advantage to businesses that being a leader here can offer.”

EVBatteries4Planet – Developing smart capabilities for sustainable and ethical EV battery supply chains

Principal Investigator:

Luciano Batista – Aston University


Jun Du – Aston University

Oleksandr Shepotylo – Aston University

Nestor Lopez – KPMG

Project Outline:

“There are several problems with producing the rare metals for electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Most notably, there is a growing difference in supply and demand levels, as demand rapidly increases, with car manufacturers racing to adhere to emissions regulations. There are also concerns around serious political instability in some major rare metal producing countries and the environmental impacts of large scale mining operations. This is causing a practical and ethical bottleneck in the production process.

“We want to look at the provenance of resources in use and find ways to encourage recycling and reuse of materials to achieve a sustainable supply chain.

“We want to see how digital technologies like blockchain can be used to help address the problems by creating visibility in global supply chains.”

Industrial digital technologies for UK SME exporting manufacturers

Principal Investigator:

Hanh Pham – University of Leeds


Chee Yew Wong – University of Leeds

Richard Hodgett – University of Leeds

Neil Harriman – Oxford Innovation

David McKee – Slingshot Simulations

Project Outline:

“We are delighted to have received this award from InterAct to undertake this project investigating ‘Industrial digital technologies for UK SME exporting manufacturers’. We are aiming to develop a decision-making model for manufacturers’ adoption and utilisation of industrial digital technologies to enhance competitiveness in international markets both as a conceptual model and through web-based applications.

“We anticipate industrial digital technologies will be a game changer in global production networks in the next two decades and UK SME export manufacturers need to prepare to be ahead of the game.

“We hope the outcomes will be used by manufacturers, especially SMEs, as well as digital solution providers, UK policymakers and support agencies to enable an effective transition to the next stage of industrial development.”

Empirical investigation of the role of pairing industrial digital technologies and resource efficiency towards net zero

Principal Investigator:

Taofeeq Ibn-Mohammed – WMG, The University of Warwick


Mehmet Chakkol – WMG, The University of Warwick

Temidayo Akenroye

Aitana Uclés Fuensanta – University of Warwick

Tristan Niesslein – Niesslein Sustainability Partners (NSP) Ltd

Project Outline:

“Our proposal is about investigating the challenges and barriers to adopting and implementing digital technologies to facilitate resource and energy efficiency.

“A lot of previous work has focused on how technology can drive supply and demand side efficiencies. Instead, we want to find out what barriers industry is facing and how these can be mitigated to improve technology uptake. We’re planning to interview key stakeholders from the sector to see if their thoughts mesh with our own findings and get practical, hands-on insight.

“We want to analyse the interconnected nature of these challenges to determine which are the most critical, and if certain key challenge resolutions will have a wider, cascading success across supply chains. This means looking across the board at manufacturing sub-sectors to see if the challenges faced by individual producers are generally applicable to different businesses.”

RESTRAIN: Socio-cultuRal bEhaviour of end-uSers To specific cybeR-threAts In maNufacturing

Principal Investigator:

Muttukrishnan Rajarajan – City University of London


Rajkumar Roy – City University of London

Katy Tapper – City University of London

Paul Hide – Amdea

Jim Fairbairn – Megger Ltd.

Project Outline:

“Cybersecurity in the manufacturing environment is a growing area of interest and concern. With the increased adoption of digital technologies, manufacturing is becoming a major target for cyber attacks. One of the biggest vulnerabilities in this regard is human behaviour and attitudes towards cybersecurity.

“Since the pandemic, manufacturing has gone through a huge digital change which has opened up new avenues of attack. What we want to know is, how do we manage behavioural change to ensure cybersecurity improvements and use psychological models to plan new ways to adapt to these changes.

“We will be working with the cyber-resilience centres across the country to establish how the findings of this research can impact the wider manufacturing sector across the UK.”

Standardization and new technology adoption in the housing supply chain: Lessons from the 1930s

Principal Investigator:

Christopher Spencer – Loughborough University


Paul Temple – Consultant (University of Surrey)

Project Outline:

“Our contribution to InterAct lies in exploring how Britain’s historical experience of technical standards adoption in the 1930s – particularly those associated with new and emerging technologies – has important lessons for the current and future adoption of industrial digital technologies (IDT).

“We will evaluate the strategic role of the British Standards Institution (BSI) on the housing supply chain during the 1930s. This exploration will be contrasted with the situation today, where the housing supply chain is complex, and for which there is a clear need for increased forward-looking planning and coordination regarding the increasing adoption of IDT and associated IDT standards.

“The project will result in a significant amount of new knowledge in academic, industry and policymaking circles that is relevant to IDT adoption, based on significant historical evidence and contextualisation.”

Business Model Innovation and Digital Servitization in UK Manufacturing Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

Principal Investigator:

Dimitrios Dousios – University of East Anglia


Antonios Karatzas – University of East Anglia

Project Outline:

“Servitization is the provision of products and services in an integrated bundle that can create and sustain value. One issue is that almost all the of existing research in this area has been focused on large firms, with very little focus on SMEs. Meta analysis and systematic reviews have confirmed there is a gap in research done to date.

“Why is this important? SMEs are facing an increasingly competitive, unstable environment with major negative impacts spilling out from energy crises, conflict, and the pandemic. We’re offering our assistance and research insights to help them become more stable and complete by adding service elements to their package offering.

“We’re looking to create infographics, video tutorials, and a roadmap for SMEs to understand their competitive position and to learn how they can use these advanced business models from larger firms to improve competitiveness.

“99.3% of manufacturing firms in the UK are SME’s, but at the moment we don’t understand the boundary conditions that can vary wildly between firms in different stages of their development. By introducing a servitization toolkit, we are providing a hands-on kit of actionable insights that can set them on the road to improvement.”


InterAct launches Actionable Insights Fund

The InterAct Network has now opened the Actionable Insights Fund for applications.

Designed as a way to facilitate the transformation of human insights gleaned from existing research into outputs providing actionable business intelligence to industry and policymakers, this call offers applicants up to £18,000 of funding to enable this.

Discussing the funding call, InterAct Co-director Professor Janet Godsell said: “We know there is lots of excellent research out there examining the sorts of themes we’re looking at with InterAct. What we want to achieve with this funding opportunity is to spark the creativity of researchers who have carried out this work and provide them with the resources to turn their valuable insights into the kinds of formats that are going to best resonate with those groups that can make use of them.

We want to give people some creative freedom with this, for example researchers may wish to develop reports, videos, apps or website content to name a few ideas. We’re excited to engage with the wider academic community and see what proposals they come up with.”

Opening on Tuesday 24th January 2023, the call will be accepting applications until Friday 21st April 2023.

You can find full details about the funding and apply here.


InterAct takes part in Digital Manufacturing Week 2022

The InterAct team once again joined a host of manufacturers and digital technology providers from across the UK at this year’s Smart Factory Expo in Liverpool, as part of Digital Manufacturing Week 2022.

Bringing together all the technologies enabling the digital manufacturing revolution under one roof, the Smart Factory Expo provided an opportunity to develop the ongoing collaborations between InterAct’s research programme and the wider sector stakeholders.

Featured among a great array of expert speakers, InterAct Co-directors Professor Jan Godsell and Professor Jillian MacBryde participated in important talks and discussions on the future of manufacturing, what adaptations are needed and how the workforce must change to ensure the industry’s continued success.

Professor Jan Godsell delivers her talk on how we discuss and describe manufacturing
Professor Jill MacBryde takes part in the panel discussion on ‘Women in Manufacturing’

Examining the way we talk about manufacturing as an industry, Professor Godsell said: “We need to talk about manufacturing in words people can connect with. Its about providing us with the things we need, when we need them, at the lowest cost, but in a sustainable way”.

This theme was further explored through a collaboration with Made Smarter, prefacing upcoming work from Professor MacBryde’s ‘Future of Work’ research team, creating a wall for attendees to share their own perceptions on what manufacturing is.

Attendees were invited to share their own perceptions and thoughts about manufacturing through this wall of contributions

As InterAct continues to explore exciting themes around the future of UK manufacturing, we look forward to meeting and interacting with more stakeholders to build the network.

If you are interested in contributing to our understanding of manufacturing, please take part in our ‘New Technologies, Agility & People’ survey..


Future of Work team launches survey on ‘New Technologies, Agility & People’

The InterAct ‘Future of Work’ team based in the business school at Strathclyde University are conducting a survey of UK Manufacturers about New Technologies, Agility & People.

Led by InterAct Co-director, Professor Jillian MacBryde, the ‘Future of Work’ research group is seeking to better understand the ways in which we work, how technology will impact the future of these practices and how businesses can adapt to cope with a rapidly shifting competitive environment.

We often hear about how new manufacturing technologies will shape and transform jobs in the sector. Part of the challenge facing many UK employers is trying to understand how these new technologies help productivity. The team want to know how the jobs and skills of today blend into new job and people practices that sit alongside emerging technologies. This survey offers you an opportunity to share your opinions and experience of working within the sector.

The Future of Work group are looking for senior representatives of UK manufacturers to take part in a short 15-minute survey about how their organisation uses these new manufacturing technologies to shape their people practices and facilitate innovation and productivity.

If you would like to hear more about the background of the survey or discuss taking part, please contact project researcher Dr Robert Stewart (

If you would prefer an electronic paper copy of the survey or would prefer to take part in a telephone interview, please send a text to 07901841087 and a member of the team will be in touch.

The survey is completely confidential. Your opinions and your responses are secure and we do not disclose or identify you or your company in any reporting.


InterAct visits Siemens for National Manufacturing Day

The InterAct team, in collaboration with Make UK and Midlands Engine, recently launched a joint research programme – ‘Digital Future of Manufacturing Ecosystems’. The project aims to identify the ‘Vision 2040’ for the UK manufacturing industry and develop digital roadmaps to support the transition.

Our partners Make UK are spearheading the effort to broaden the appeal of manufacturing careers and build excitement around the industry. On Thursday, 7th July, they held National Manufacturing Day 2022. This annual celebration is a day for companies to open their doors and generate national recognition of the manufacturing sector.

InterAct, as a Made Smarter Innovation funded network, joined this effort with our first Discovery Day event, focused on the ‘Digital Future of Manufacturing Ecosystems’.

We welcomed guests from across the academic, manufacturing and digital technology sectors to join us at Siemens‘ factory in Congleton, Cheshire. Attendees had the opportunity to take part in a guided tour of key workstations within the factory environment and hear from Siemens staff about the benefits of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships in a business environment.

InterAct Co-director and Principal Investigator of the Digital Future of Manufacturing Ecosystems, Professor Jan Godsell further elaborated on the innovative work of her team in regards to supply chains and digitalisation in the manufacturing environment.

Participants were then encouraged to discuss the importance of incorporating new research in industry, developing new ideas and building mutually beneficial relationships.

Professor Godsell said: “I’m pleased to have welcomed such an engaging and varied audience for our first Discovery Day. It’s fantastic to see how much the InterAct community has grown in the months since the programme’s foundation.

“I’d like to thank Siemens for their kind offer to host this event at their premises, where we’ve been able to showcase the practical benefits to businesses of engaging with researchers to help develop their future plans.

“We hope to carry forward this positive momentum into the coming months and years, working closely with our partners at MakeUK and Midlands Engine to shape the future of manufacturing ecosystems. I’m looking forward to welcoming many more new faces at our next events and I hope our community will continue to engage with the programme.”

If you have extensive experience in manufacturing operations, supply chain management, circular economy, sustainability, or industrial digital technology and would like to contribute to the work of the ‘Digital Future of Manufacturing Ecosystems’ team, then consider taking part in our expert interviews.

Contact Frances Zhang: to find out more about participating.


InterAct co-hosts international webinar on HRM dynamic capabilities

The InterAct team, in collaboration with colleagues at the ESRC PrOPEL Hub, recently hosted a webinar with keynote speakers Dr Paula Apascaritei and Professor Marta Elvira of IESE Business School, Madrid. The webinar: “Navigating uncertainty: How HRM dynamic capabilities contribute to organisational well-being and performance” was chaired by Professor Colin Lindsay of Strathclyde Business School and the InterAct team.  

Dynamic capabilities have been defined as a firm’s ability to integrate, build and reconfigure internal and external resources to address rapidly changing business environments. This means that dynamic and resilient organisations are defined by their capacity to sense and articulate opportunities and threats, seize opportunities, and reconfigure tangible and intangible assets to transform ways of doing business.

How can HRM contribute to dynamic capabilities? Dr Apascaritei and Professor Elvira shared their research on what ‘HRM dynamic capabilities’ might look like in innovative businesses. First, their research points to the need for an HR function that supports ‘knowledge-building’ within and across teams, for example though the creation of real and virtual spaces for employees and managers to collaborate and learn together. Second, they pointed to value of ‘socially integrative’ HR practices, noting the importance of supporting people in different roles to build relationships with colleagues, customers and partners. Lastly, Dr Apascaritei and Professor Elvira pointed to the value of HRM that supports ‘reconfiguring’ capabilities, with an emphasis on cross-skilling and flexible working practices that fit with the innovation priorities of businesses, including in digital manufacturing.

Much of this discussion chimed with ongoing research being conducted by the ‘Future of Work’ team at InterAct. We are working with manufacturing businesses to identify ‘what works’ in people management and learning to maximise the potential of employees at all levels. If you represent a manufacturing organisation interested in learning from and sharing good practice in work organisation and people management for innovation, contact Professor Colin Lindsay – – to access our free research and consultancy services.

Watch the full video here.