DETI, a research, innovation and skills initiative – is a collaboration of industry and academic partners led by the National Composites Centre (NCC) – which sets out to develop and accelerate digital engineering across multiple industry sectors – to benefit future generations of engineers and engineering products, and to help tackle global challenges.

The initiative has been kick-started by the contribution from West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

WECA has awarded £5m to the new Centre for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) – to match-fund £5m from West of England businesses who are at the forefront of industry. It is a flagship investment which supports the region’s Local Industrial Strategy and is one of the building blocks in creating a Global Centre of Innovation Excellence – bringing together innovative expertise to solve future challenges.

Alongside WECA and the NCC include Airbus, Rolls-Royce, GKN, Baker Hughes, CFMS and UWE. DETI will also receive contributions in kind from Siemens and Toshiba. The project has already engaged with over 100 companies across the region, including disrupters TechSPARK and Smartia, and companies covering sectors such as renewable energy, marine, aerospace and electronics.

TechSPARK’s MD, Ben Shorrock, said: “It’s encouraging to see local government take real action to support industries like Advanced Engineering connect and implement the technologies which will keep us competitive in the future. Collaboration is often cited as a local strength so to put some real money behind creating a national centre for this is great.”

The DETI project will develop training courses related to advanced digital engineering, with the aim of increasing the skills and retraining those in the current workforce. It will also engage with schools, particularly in less affluent parts of the West of England, with the aim to reach 1,000 children and inspire them to pursue a career in digital engineering.

DETI is not a new building but will use existing facilities and assets – at the National Composites Centre (NCC) and another crucial partner in the collaboration, the Centre for Modelling and Simulation (CFMS), at the Bristol and Bath Science Park – to undertake its research, innovation and skills initiatives. It brings together the wealth of specialist expertise from around the region and harnesses it to maximise opportunities for a better future.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “Our region is a global leader in high-value design and innovation, and we want to make sure we retain that position in the face of global competition. DETI will help us do that by putting the West of England at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution and bring together the worlds of digital technology and advanced engineering.

“DETI will be a nationally important centre, based in the West of England. It will help secure the future of the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries and is a key part of our Local Industrial Strategy ambition to strengthen cross-sectoral innovation and support our region’s ambition for clean and inclusive growth.”

DETI will work with leading companies and support industry to reduce carbon emissions by producing better products – products that are lighter, more fuel-efficient and have less waste – through undertaking research and innovation in the virtual world.

Richard Oldfield, CEO of the NCC, said: “The world faces unprecedented challenges which will require step changes in how society uses resources. DETI will bring together leading companies and tech disruptors to create the design and digital engineering of the future. It will help cement the UK’s world-leading position as an engineering nation, helping to overcome the world’s most complex challenges.