£60m EPSRC funding for advanced manufacturing

Article by Staff Writer

THE Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has given £10m (US$12.8m) to each of six new advanced manufacturing research hubs across the UK.

The six hubs, to be based at the universities of Cardiff, Huddersfield, Nottingham, Sheffield, Strathclyde and University College London, have secured an additional £87.5m from academic and industrial partners. The hubs will research areas including targeted biological medicines, 3D printing, and composite materials, and will bring together expertise from 17 universities in total and more than 200 industrial and academic partners.

UK universities and science minister Jo Johnson announced the plans for the new hubs on 5 December. The government believes that advanced manufacturing technology will help industry in the country to compete against low-cost manufacturing from overseas. As part of the Autumn Statement the government pledged an additional £2bn to fund science and engineering research, including the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, specifically for industrial research.

“Developing new innovative manufacturing techniques will help UK industry create new products, explore more business opportunities and ensure the UK becomes more competitive and productive,” said Johnson. “This investment will lay the foundations to allow industry and our world-leading universities to thrive for years to come and is exactly the type of project that our upcoming Industrial Strategy will look to support.”

IChemE Fellow Nigel Titchener-Hooker will lead the Future Manufacturing Hub in Targeted Healthcare at University College London (UCL). It will focus on developing personal, targeted biological medicines for individual patients and solving the related manufacturing challenges. Partners include the University of Manchester, Imperial College London, Loughborough University, Merck, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. The Hub will have total funding of £23.7m.

The EPSRC Future Manufacturing Hub in Manufacture using Advanced Powder Processes (MAPP) at the University of Sheffield will be led by metallurgy professor Iain Todd. Its project partners, including the universities of Oxford and Leeds, GKN, Rolls-Royce and Johnson Matthey have contributed £7.2m on top of EPSRC’s £10m towards research into powder-based manufacturing processes.

The University of Nottingham will host the Future Composites Manufacturing Hub, which will develop automated manufacturing technologies to make advanced polymer composite components for industries such as aerospace, transportation, construction and energy sectors. With total funding of £19m, its project partners include the universities of Bristol and Manchester, Network Rail, Airbus and Aston Martin Lagonda. It will be led by Andrew Long, Nottingham pro-vice-chancellor and chair in mechanics of materials.

The Future Metrology Research Hub at the University of Huddersfield will develop new technologies which integrate measurement science with design and production processes, to improve control, quality and productivity and minimise waste. It will be led by Jane Jiang, a professor of precision metrology. Its partners include the universities of Bath and Sheffield, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), AWE and Jaguar Land Rover. Its total funding is £25.2m.

Strathclyde University’s Future Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation (CMAC) Research Hub, will, as the name suggests, work to develop reliable, continuous processes to manufacture a given material into the ideal particle. It is led by Alistair Florence, a professor of pharmacy and biomedical sciences. Its partners have contributed additional funding of £31.2m, and include the University of Cambridge, Loughborough University, TU Graz, Novartis and Bayer.

The Future Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Hub, based at Cardiff University, will be led by physics professor Peter Smowton. It will research large-scale compound semiconductor manufacturing using techniques usually used for silicon, as well as investigating the advantages of compound semiconductors over silicon semiconductors, and where they may be best employed. Its partners, which have contributed an additional £11.2m, include UCL, the University of Manchester, Toshiba Research Cambridge and NPL.

“Some of these new hubs will build on the solid foundations of earlier Centres for Innovative Manufacturing while some, like the hub at the University of Sheffield, are completely new ventures that have strong links with industry and organisations such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. EPSRC is pleased to be at the forefront of the drive to keep the UK a prosperous and productive nation,” said EPSRC chief executive Philip Nelson.

Article by Staff Writer

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