About the project and partners

How can low-cost, off-the-shelf digital solutions be adapted to meet SME business needs?

Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring is a collaborative project across manufacturing SMEs and researchers, harnessing low-cost technology solutions to support growth and productivity.

We are investigating:
  • How existing and readily available digital technologies can be implemented on a low-cost basis to support growth and productivity in SMEs.
  • How the unique business challenges of an individual company can be identified, and then appropriate digital solutions be implemented to deliver value.

Project leaders

University of Cambridge – researchers from the Institute for Manufacturing, part of the Department of Engineering.
Professor Duncan McFarlane (Head of the Distributed Information & Automation Laboratory)
Dr Lavindra De Silva
Dr Greg Hawkridge
Dr Ajith Parlikad
Dr Marco Perez Hernandez
Benjamin Schönfuß
Dr German Terrazas
Alan Thorne
Dr Yedige Tlegenov

University of Nottingham – researchers from the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing.
Professor Svetan Ratchev (Director of the Institute)
Dr Jack Chaplin
Dr Giovanna Martinez Arellano

SME manufacturers

From the beginning, we are working closely with SME manufacturing partners.
SMEs are involved in workshops for requirements gathering, with the aim to include hundreds of companies across different sectors at this stage.
SME partner companies will have onsite visits from researchers and be involved with pilot implementations.


Industry networks: manufacturing networks including the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS), Make UK (formerly EEF), the Nottingham Manufacturing Network.

Technology providers: working with providers of technologies for inclusion in options development, including Raspberry Pi and Siemens.

Advisory & regulatory: liaising with BSI and industry bodies on compliance, regulations and standards.


The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).


IT SME development: Working with SME IT companies, including engagement workshops.

Student engagement: Hackathons involving Engineering and Computer Science to create ideas, solutions and prototypes.

How to get involved…