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The Digital Sandwich

Building an open, cross sector supply chain digital platform Innovate UK Made Smarter Call (Fast Start)
The funding opportunity

The UK Government’s Industry Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) is investing £30 million in projects that focus on the use of industrial digital technologies (IDTs) to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing.  The challenge will support innovation and deployment of IDTs across industry sectors via cross-sector collaboration and learning with the largest project amount being £10 million.


We are seeking support and engagement for a collaborative R&D proposal to be submitted that will build an open multi-party software platform, connecting supply and value chain stakeholders from food primary production to retail to increase business productivity, agility and resilience. 


Vision for the final platform

This will be a national and open demonstrator of a digitalised food supply chain, using sandwich manufacturing as the use case.


With leading ICT companies, we will develop an integrated digital platform that fuses multiple industrial digital technologies (IDTs): Blockchain; AI; IoT; Finance into a single technology stack operating within a standard business ERP. The project aims to step change manufacturing productivity, consumer safety, financing and trust within the food supply chain.


The integrated technologies include;

[1] Novel extensions of IoT platforms to record and curate extensive supply chain meta data, 

[2] Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) to provide immutable food traceability

[3] Auto-trading AI to provide novel analytics that drive productivity, optimise inventory along supply chains, maximise service levels and reduce waste,

[4] Standardisation of the commercial terms, financing and settlement on the blockchain to enable the complete integration of traceability and financial supply chains.


The stack will be developed within a cross-industry consortium that includes food manufacturers, digital technology, financial institutions and equipment providers. The innovation is derived from the fusion of multiple IDTs across a complex supply chain into a single digital stack and can only be accomplished through a comprehensive collaborative project.


The technologies will be demonstrated across a sandwich supply chain from primary producer, through SME manufacturer, retailers and consumer.  The sandwich supply chain is an exemplar for this Made Smarter call, it has very significant scale (£5.5bn p.a. value to the UK), engages multiple hundred SMEs, requires multiple IDT providers, has high levels of food and financial waste, low productivity with complex fast moving supply chains and significant food safety/societal risk (listeria, salmonella etc) from poor compliance.


In addition, in the Made Smarter Review, the food and drink sector (UK’s largest manufacturing sector) showed some of the greatest potential benefits (£56bn value to industry in 10 years) from IDTs. Although food is an exemplar in this proposal, the technologies developed can be rolled out in any manufacturing sector with supply chains that require precision, trust and the monitoring of high volumes of fast-moving goods.


This 24-month project will be led by Raynors Foods, an SME sandwich manufacturer, with the IoT platform data layer provided by IMS Evolve, the blockchain layer by Sweetbridge and Industria, platform integration by IMS Evolve, ERP within Microsoft Dynamics and finance layer by Crosspay,


AI analytics will be provided by a consortium of Higher Education Institutions (University of Lincoln, University of Exeter) and Digital Catapult will assist with the equipment monitoring process.


The platform will provide food manufacturers’ supply chains with new opportunities to improve efficiency, profitability and competitiveness and to seize the potential offered by the new global digital economy.


This platform will enable significant automation (physical and financial) of the supply chain, driving down costs while improving efficiency by standardising: 

  • Identity proofs for entities, individuals, goods, equipment and IoT devices, 

  • Smart contracts to secure legal agreements and regulatory compliance, process controls and validation processes, 

  • Accounting treatments, audits, rights, obligations, risks with mitigation strategies, 

  • Data elements, location history, quality, quantity for bill of materials components.


The transition to such a platform should be as painless as possible for existing industry players, with ready integration into existing ERPs, scheduling tools, financial institutions, etc. The platform will be built around the core idea of ‘open innovation’ to provide future-proofing and additional services in the future.

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