Partners and collaborators

Meet the partners and collaborators who are helping build the Shoestring community and bring low-cost digital solutions to the UK manufacturing sector.


As Shoestring transitions to be come a community programme it is supported through contributions to many research, innovation, piloting and business development projects. 

The Gatsby Foundation, with support from IfM Engage, is funding business development and training activities.

Regional Shoestring scoping studies and rollout programmes in Western Australia and Scotland are, and have been, supported by the Government of Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and by Scottish Enterprise, with a few more in the pipeline. 

There are also a number of collaborative innovation and research projects, most importantly the Made Smarter Smart Manufacturing Data Hub (SMDH), The Research Centre for Connected Factories, Elastic Manufacturing Systems and the Digital Hospitals project in association with Cambridge University Hospitals.

Our partners

The EPSRC-funded Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring research project, 2018-2022, had 55 industrial partners many of whom continue to collaborate with the programme.

Solution and technology providers

Industry and regional associations

End user small/medium manufacturers

Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring brings together a range of partners including industry and regional associations to ensure it has an impact not only within companies but also across the wider manufacturing sector. We are currently planning regional roll-outs of the Shoestring solutions with support from education and training partners as well as third party consultants and providers.

The types of partners include:

Shoestring works closely with small– and medium-sized manufacturing partners. To date, over 400 companies from across the UK have worked with Shoestring to identify common business needs and priorities and to pilot different digital Shoestring solutions.  

Manufacturing network partners, including the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS), Make UK (formerly EEF), and the Nottingham Manufacturing Network, are working with Shoestring to promote the approach to their members and build the Shoestring community of users, developers and trainers

Shoestring works with Further and Higher Education Institutions and other educational organisations, such as ESP-Scotland, to provide a framework to help develop the digital skills of studentsapprentices and the workforce. 

Technology specialists provide key support in making sure Shoestring solutions can be adapted and adopted by manufacturers, in some cases providing development support for manufacturers implementing a Shoestring pilot. 

Shoestring solutions are developed with a range of providers of technologies, including Raspberry Pi and Siemens. 

Shoestring’s commitment to provide robust, secure solutions that fit with national compliance, regulations and standards is made possible by support from BSI and industry bodies.

Shoestring is being developed by a team of researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Nottingham. At the Institute for Manufacturing, Engineering Department, University of Cambridge, Shoestring is led by Professor Duncan McFarlane (Head of the Distributed Information & Automation Laboratory) and from the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, University of Nottingham, the team is led by Professor Svetan Ratchev (Director for Advanced Manufacturing).

Hear about the benefits of Shoestring from the manufacturers:

Carl Dean, PCML

Carl discusses digitalisation from an SME perspective, and why the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring project is needed.

Will Bridgman, Warren Services

Hear from Will on the challenges of digitalisation for SME manufacturers.

Julian Bedford, BTL Precision

Julian discusses digital priorities and how a low-cost approach can be a game-changer for SME manufacturers.

Partner with us

If you would like to partner with Shoestring, we would love to hear from you.