The future of Shoestring

Originally established as a research project in 2018Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring is now transitioning to a community programme which will co-ordinate the activity of Shoestring’s community of users and developers. The outputs of the research project (for example the sample solutions, the design approach, the solution catalogue) provide the basis of the new programme. The programme continues to address the UK’s industrial priorities, as well as the most recent business goals set out by the Government.

Shoestring reaches beyond the UK, and will be a global programme. A regional rollout pilot has started in Western Australia run by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), for the food and drink sector.

The Shoestring Community Programme brings together:

  • End-users

    Small and medium sized manufacturers who would like to implement the Shoestring solutions in their company

  • Developers

    Solution providers who help develop the ready-made solutions using the Shoestring approach

  • Facilitators

    Who help provide operations and engineering personnel with training and Higher Education Colleges who support students and apprentices to deploy Shoestring solutions during work placements and start their career in manufacturing

  • Suppliers

    The technology providers whose low-cost, off-the-shelf technologies can be incorporated into a Shoestring solution

  • Champions

    Who promote Shoestring for the benefit of the members of their networks

From our initial research and collaborative activity with the manufacturing community, we expect a high rate of adoption amongst small-to-medium sized companies. Shoestring removes the normal barriers these companies face when considering digitalisation: the cost barrier is removed by the low-cost approach; the risk barrier is removed by a non-core systems approach; and the complexity barrier is overcome by the requirements development approach, enabling companies to ‘dip their toe in the water’ and adopt one digital solution at a time. 

Shoestring will play an important role in upskilling the workforce as the programme presents a framework which helps companies encourage and develop their employees’ digital skills. In addition, the approach can be incorporated as a project-based learning tool in apprenticeship programmes and further education curricula, creating valuable transferrable skills in the next generation.  

The impact of Shoestring spreads beyond the companies that implement the Shoestring solutions, harnessing and developing digital skills and knowledge throughout the country. By training and incentivising technology solution providers, Shoestring has the knock-on effect of creating a market for low-cost digital technologies. Additionally, by upskilling regional college staff on apprenticeship programmes, Shoestring creates regional low-cost digital experts. In this way Shoestring’s scalability promises to support growth and productivity across the UK. 

Get involved

If you would like to be involved in the next stage of the Shoestring programme, please get in touch.