£20 million funding to turn research into commercial enterprises
Funding was announced today (12 October 2010) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board, for two new research centres. The ‘Innovation and Knowledge Centres’ will mix business knowledge with the most up-to-date research to harness the full potential of emerging technologies – ensuring the UK is first to develop this cutting-edge research.
The two new centres will focus on areas where world class scientific breakthroughs have already been achieved. They will build on the success of the existing centres at Cambridge, Cranfield, Queen’s Belfast and Leeds Universities and will become centres of excellence to achieve major scientific breakthroughs. The new IKC’s will bring together high calibre teams with a proven research excellence to explore the potential of these breakthroughs and bring new technologies to market more quickly. The funding was announced today at Innovate10; a Technology Strategy Board event that bought people together to solve problems and make new advances, creating opportunity and growth for the future.
Talking about the two new centres to be based at Swansea University and the University of Cambridge, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, Professor David Delpy, said: "Taking exciting research from the university laboratory to the commercial sector through close collaboration with user stakeholders is vital to ensuring the UK's economy continues to be innovative and globally competitive.
"EPSRC is strongly committed to supporting universities in commercialising their outstanding research and I applaud the innovative approach taken by the successful applicants, and all competing universities."
The Technology Strategy board’s Chief Executive, Iain Gray, said: “These two new Innovation and Knowledge Centres are highly important for the UK and economic growth because they harness specialist academic knowledge and business experitise in areas where we have proved capabilities and we know that we can do well.
"By pooling know-how, capablity, and expertise in one centre, the UK maximises the opportunity to innovate effectively and generate economic growth."Swansea’s new centre will be called SPECIFIC - the Sustainable Product Engineering Centre for Innovative Functional Industrial Coatings. SPECIFIC’s primary aim is to transform buildings into ‘power stations’ through the rapid commercialisation of functional coatings on steel and glass in the areas of energy capture, storage and release. The ambitious target of the SPECIFIC academic and industrial partnership is to generate a portfolio of products which, by 2020, will generate over one third of the UK’s requirement for renewable energy.The University of Cambridge centre will combine research in sensor and data management with innovative manufacturing processes to provide radical changes to the construction and management of infrastructure. The aim is to transform the industry through a whole-life approach to achieving sustainability in construction and infrastructure, covering design and commissioning, the construction process, exploitation and use, and eventual decommissioning.
Innovation and Knowledge Centres are centres of excellence with five years' funding to accelerate and promote business exploitation of an emerging research and technology field. Their key feature is a shared space and entrepreneurial environment, in which researchers, potential customers and skilled professionals from both academia and business can work side-by-side to scope applications, business models and routes to market.
Invitations to submit to a third call for Innovation and Knowledge Centres were sent to university Vice-Chancellors in October 2009 following a call announcement at Innovate ‘09.
This call builds on the successes of the existing four IKCs which were funded through a pilot call in November 2005 and a subsequent call in 2007:Advanced Manufacturing Technologies for Photonics and Electronics - Exploiting Molecular and Macromolecular Materials at the University of Cambridge Ultra Precision and Structured Surfaces at Cranfield University Regenerative Therapies and Devices at the University of LeedsCentre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s University Belfast
Research Council support for each of the new Innovation and Knowledge Centres will consist of up to £6.95 million funding over five years with a further £2.5 million from the Technology Strategy Board.
University support of at least £2 million is required for all applications for Innovation and Knowledge Centres. This could include, for example, a contribution towards infrastructure, buildings, or the redeployment of existing doctoral training account or collaborative training account provision.
Funding is also conditional on up front letters of support from business partners to explain the Innovation and Knowledge Centre's business relevance and targets for their contribution.
Swansea University – Sustainable Product Engineering Centre for Innovative Functional Industrial Coatings (SPECIFIC)
In the UK there are more than four billion square metres of roofs and facades forming the building envelope. Most of this could potentially be used for harvesting solar energy and yet it covers less than 1.8 % of the UK land area. The shared vision for SPECIFIC is to develop affordable large area solar collectors which can replace standard roofs and generate over one third of the UK's total target renewable energy by 2020 (10.8 GW peak and 19 TWh) reducing CO2 output by 6 million tonnes per year. This will be achieved with an annual production of 20 million m2 by 2020 equating to less than 0.5% of the available roof and wall area. SPECIFIC will realise this by quickly developing practical functional coated materials on metals and glass that can be manufactured by industry in large volumes to produce, store and release energy at point of use. These products will be suitable for fitting on both new and existing buildings, which is important since 50% of the UKs current CO2 emissions come from the built environment.
The key focus for SPECIFIC will be to accelerate the commercialisation of IP, knowledge and expertise held between the University partners (Swansea, ICL, Bath, Strathclyde, Glyndwr, and Bangor) and UK based industry in three key areas of electricity generation from solar energy (photovoltaics), heat generation (solar thermal) and storage/controlled release. The combination of functionality will be achieved through applying functional coatings to metal and glass surfaces. Critical to this success is the active involvement in the Centre of the global steel giant Tata and the global glass manufacturer Pilkington. These two materials dominate the facings of the building stock and are surfaces which can be engineered. In addition major chemical companies (such as BASF, Akzo Nobel, Beckers and Johnson Matthey) are involved in the project, as well as specialist suppliers to the emerging PV industry (such as Dyesol). This range of internationally recognised partners gives SPECIFIC both academic depth and industrial relevance. To maximise open innovation, colleagues from industry will be based in SPECIFIC on both a permanent and part-time basis.
SPECIFIC is a unique business opportunity bridging a technology gap, delivering affordable novel macro-scale micro-generation, making a major contribution to UK renewable energy targets and creating a new export opportunity for off grid power in the developing world. It will ultimately generate thousands of high technology jobs within a green manufacturing sector, creating a sustainable international centre of excellence in functional coatings where multi-sector applications are developed for next generation manufacturing.
The Welsh Assembly Government is supporting the project in recognition of its strategic nature and its potential economic impact.
University of Cambridge – Smart Infrastructure and Construction
The Centre will develop and commercialise emerging technologies which will provide radical changes in the construction and management of infrastructure, leading to considerably enhanced efficiencies, economies and adaptability. For more information visit: www.cam.ac.uk