The 'Grand Challenge' competition being launched by the UK government supported Technology Strategy Board (TSB) will award the winning project £5 million prize to develop and demonstrate the technology.

The three-stage Grand Challenge, managed by the Technology Strategy Board on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), will see British companies receive funding for feasibility studies, with the best being invited to develop and test their concept. The winning proposal will be awarded the £5 million prize.

Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, launched the competition alongside the new UK Composites Strategy.

Explaining the background to the competition, Dr John Morlidge, Lead Technologist for Advanced Materials at the Technology Strategy Board, said:

"Advanced manufacturing, which uses technologically-complex products and processes, is increasingly aiming to exploit the benefits of advanced materials, such as fibre-reinforced polymer matrix composites. It is important that UK industry capitalises on the unique properties of advanced composites and seizes the opportunities from a growing global market. Aircraft wings and wind turbine blades are just two examples of the kind of advanced products that could benefit from more affordable advanced manufacturing techniques."

"The lack of cost-effective and rapid manufacturing processes is recognised worldwide as a major barrier to the commercial exploitation of composites across all sectors," he adds. "This Grand Challenge will enable a range of innovative approaches to be explored and shared across UK industry, offering British companies the chance to become world leaders in this area."

British companies interested in taking part in the Grand Challenge must submit initial ideas to the Technology Strategy Board by 18 December.