The thinking behind Urban Manufacturing came from our work with a range of cities in developing their creative economies in line with the mainstream growth sectors.

This became apparent through working with all types of metropolitan areas looking at how they can refocus urban policy on “making” where the trend over recent years has been on outsourcing manufacturing.

We wondered how the recent growth phenomenon of maker spaces and local making made possible through technologies such as 3D printing and craft based production could be aligned to sectors such as healthcare, green tech and high value manufacturing.

The thread we saw linking these factors was that of “collaboration”. Too often we observed silos in cities where sectors were not collaborating to maximum effect. Consequently city eco systems were not working as well as they could be for innovation, productivity, growth in employment and social cohesion. The notion of Urban Manufacturing examining how collaboration might be fostered was born.

The project examines how different aspects of collaboration can break down silos in cities and what policy steps can be taken to make this happen focussing on the Structural Funds. The Birmingham City University team will bring into this policy dimension our leadership experience in Cross innovation (Interreg), Design driven innovation (Design for Europe) and STEAM (ERDF Arts Council England).

The UM project therefore represents a great opportunity to develop and test practical ideas for collaboration with our partners to impact on ESIF and better connect the silos in maker spaces and the growth sectors to prepare for a 21st century economy.

Follow the journey of the Urban M project on twitter – @UrbanM_Interreg

By Dr. Steve Harding, Birmingham City University