Coventry University’s Serious Games Institute is set to play a leading role in a £1.5 million research project which aims to help manufacturing firms transform their business models using games technology.

The project is part of a wider £45 million funding package from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) designed to improve manufacturing competitiveness in the UK.

Coventry’s Serious Games Institute (SGI) will work with Aston University and the University of Sheffield on the gaming technology initiative, whose goal will be to encourage UK firms to use ‘gamification’ to sell services as well as products.

The research team will create serious games using three dimensional virtual worlds which can represent and handle the complex data systems of companies looking to adopt product service systems.

A host of industry partners – including Ford Motor Company, MAN Truck & Bus and Birmingham Science Park – will test out the games as part of the project.

Universities and science minister David Willetts said: “The UK has a proud history of manufacturing but to build on this success industry needs access to the very latest science and technology.

“This £45 million package of investment will see our world-class research base investigating innovative new manufacturing equipment and techniques. This will support our industrial strategy in a range of important sectors, driving growth and keeping the UK ahead in the global race.”

Coventry University’s Professor Sara de Freitas, director of SGI and of the Serious Games and Virtual Worlds Applied Research Group at the University, said: “To be chosen to lead this project in partnership with Aston University and the University of Sheffield represents an excellent opportunity, particularly for the West Midlands region which is now positioned very much as a global leader in the serious games industry.

“The announcement of the EPSRC’s investment in research into applied games technology is fantastic news, and for Coventry University and its Serious Games Institute the project marks a significant milestone in our efforts to work with more businesses to help them take advantage of what is fast becoming an essential way to boost growth potential.”