Four new research centres that will develop new ways of manufacturing in the fields of electronics, laser use in production processes, medical devices and food production, have been awarded a total of £21 million Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant funding as part of a £45 million package of investments in manufacturing research.
"These new centres are in areas that are strategically important to the UK and the work there will push research boundaries and drive growth."
—Professor David Delpy, Chief Executive EPSRC.
In making the announcement, David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, 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."
The new Centres will involve academics from 15 universities across the UK and over 60 project partners from industry.
The Department of Engineering will lead a £5.6M Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Large-Area Electronics. Building on the success of the Cambridge Integrated Knowledge Centre (CIKC) in advanced manufacturing technologies for photonics and electronics, the new Centre will bring together the CIKC and 3 other UK academic Centres of Excellence to tackle key manufacturing challenges in the sector in collaboration with partners from industry.
The new Centre is due to open later this year and will be led by Director, Chris Rider, with Co-Investigators, Dr. Andrew Flewitt and Professor Arokia Nathan from Engineering and Professor Henning Sirringhaus from the Cavendish Laboratory.
Large-Area Electronics is a branch of electronics in which functionality may be distributed over large-areas, much bigger than the dimensions of a typical circuit board. Recently, it has become possible to manufacture electronic devices and circuits using a solution-based approach in which a "palette" of functional "inks" is printed on flexible webs to create the multi-layered patterns required to build up devices. This approach is very different from the fabrication and assembly of conventional silicon-based electronics and offers the benefits of lower-cost manufacturing plants that can operate with reduced waste and power consumption, producing electronic systems in high volume with new form factors and features. Examples of solution-processed devices include new kinds of photovoltaics, lighting, displays, sensing systems and intelligent objects. The research portfolio of the new Centre will have a strong focus on tacking the manufacturing issues that are holding back the development of a healthy and vibrant manufacturing base of large-area electronics companies in the UK.
EPSRC currently supports 12 centres across a wide range of fields, from Additive Manufacturing to Industrial Sustainability to Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation. These four new centres bring the total to 16. The new centres are:
EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Large Area Electronics - led by Chris Rider at the University of Cambridge - starting October 2013. Grant value £5.6 million.
EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Food - led by Tim Foster at the University of Nottingham - starting September 2013. Grant value £4.5 million
EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes - led by Professor Duncan Hand at Heriot-Watt University - starting October 2013. Grant value £5.6 million
EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices - led by Professor John Fisher at the University of Leeds - starting October 2013. Grant value £5.7 million
EPSRC's Chief Executive, Professor David Delpy said: "EPSRC Centres of Innovative Manufacturing are building on previous investments we have made in the research base and combining academic innovation with industry knowledge. These new centres are in areas that are strategically important to the UK and the work there will push research boundaries and drive growth."