Shoestring offers a step-by-step approach to digitalisation using off-the-shelf technology to create low-cost, low-risk digital solutions. These small-scale solutions provide companies with immediate benefits without disrupting core operations.


Vist the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring website to find out more about how to buy solutions and collaborate with the project.


About Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring

Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring launched in October 2018 with EPSRC funding to demonstrate that there is a low-cost, low-risk way to enable small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to start digitalising quickly and easily using affordable off-the-shelf technologies. Following the successful completion of the EPSRC-funded first stage of the project in March 2022, the project is now transitioning into a community programme and is linked to a number of research projects, including Elastic Manufacturing systems, the Research Centre for Connected Factories and the Smart Manufacturing Data Hub. The project has also generated affiliated research projects including Digital Construction on a Shoestring, Digital Logistics on a Shoestring and Digital Healthcare on a Shoestring. 


During the EPSRC-funded first stage the research team established the ‘Shoestring approach’ with significant contributions from the manufacturing community. The team talked to almost 400 companies, ran 24 workshops, built 22 demonstrators and helped deploy Shoestring’s low-cost digital solutions in industry via 20 pilots. The process enabled them to create tools to run requirements and specification workshops as well as create and test a framework to produce modular low-cost digital solutions. Publications from the project can be found here


The Shoestring unit, set up in April 2022 within IfM’s knowledge consultancy, IfM Engage, works with research teams, regional business organisations, national organisations, HEIs, technology providers, technology solution providers and SMEs to establish a regional rollout of Shoestring across SMEs in the UK. International Shoestring programmes are also being set up. In this way Shoestring continues to pursue its vision to provide SMEs with a low-cost, low-risk step-by-step approach to deliver tangible company improvements using digital technologies. 


Shoestring-led sessions will be held at a number of academic conferences (including IFAC 2022 in June, SOHOMA’22 in September) and a Shoestring conference is planned for 2023.  


Follow the latest updates on the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring website and follow the programme on Twitter.




What will the programme involve?


Activities will include: 

  • Requirements gathering
  • SME digital manufacturing assessments
  • Options development
  • Hackathons
  • Pilot studies
  • Engagement and application workshops
  • Demonstration sessions
  • Low cost digital solution development

Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring


The Shoestring Team

Professor Duncan McFarlane 

Dr Lavindra de Silva

Dr German Terrazas

Dr Greg Hawkridge

Dr Zhengyang Ling

Dr Anandarup Mukherjee 

Dr Gokcen Yilmaz

Kate Price-Thomas

Holly Sheahan

Liz Salter

Jan Kaiser

Jaime Macias 


Get in touch

If you would like to discuss the programme and how you could be involved, please email 



For further information please contact:

Professor Duncan McFarlane

T: +44 (0) 1223 766141


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