£21 million for new Centres for Innovative Manufacturing

February 28, 2013

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 announced today by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science.

Speaking ahead of the BIS Manufacturing Summit on Thursday, Mr 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."

The new Centres, which will begin work later in the year, will involve academics from 15 universities across the UK and over 60 project partners from industry.

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 centres are:

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Large Area Electronics - led by Dr Chris Rider at the University of Cambridge - starting October 2013. Grant value £5.6 million

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Food - led by Dr 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."
For media enquiries contact:

Richard Tibenham at the EPSRC Press Office, tel: 01793 444 404, e-mail: richard.tibenham@epsrc.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

1. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. www.epsrc.ac.uk

2. Background Information

Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Large-Area Electronics

What is it?

Large-Area Electronics (LAE) is a branch of electronics in which functionality may be distributed over large-areas, much bigger than the dimensions of a typical circuit board. It is now possible to manufacture electronic devices and circuits using low-temperature processes that enable the use of flexible substrates such as plastic and paper. A notable example is the 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. These approaches are very different from the fabrication and assembly of conventional silicon-based electronics and offer 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, such as flexibility, thinness and light weight. Examples of electronic devices made this way include new kinds of photovoltaics, lighting, displays, sensing systems and intelligent objects. It is also possible to add intelligence to everyday items that are currently printed, such as packaging, labels and signage.

What is the benefit for the UK?

The UK has been a pioneer in the field and is now poised for significant growth as basic technologies are moving towards pilot scale manufacturing in many UK LAE companies. Competition is also intense world-wide and it is important for the future of the UK industry that it can produce complete systems to meet early adopters' needs. There are many young companies in the field, however, they often only have a strong capability in one 'functional area', such as light-emission or logic, for example, and end-users want complete systems with inputs, processing, output and power, especially in early market opportunities such as brand enhancement and intelligent packaging.

The Centre has a wide range of committed industrial partners including suppliers of materials, suppliers of process equipment, security printers, and manufacturers of LAE and end-users of LAE, while the four universities in the Centre have a combined network many times greater.

What will the Centre do?

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Large-Area Electronics will tackle the research challenges of scale-up and high-yield manufacture and testing of complete systems incorporating multiple functional elements to support the emergence of a vibrant UK manufacturing industry in the sector. An active outreach programme will also promote the adoption of LAE technologies by large end-users and the wider UK electronics manufacturing industry.

Who is in the Centre?

This Centre for Innovative Manufacturing brings together four UK academic Centres of Excellence in LAE at the University of Cambridge (Cambridge Integrated Knowledge Centre, CIKC), Imperial College London (Centre for Plastic Electronics, CPE), Swansea University (Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, WCPC) and the University of Manchester (Organic Materials Innovation Centre, OMIC) to create a truly representative national centre with world-class expertise in design, development, fabrication and characterisation of a wide range of devices, materials and processes.

Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Food

What is it?

The Centre will meet the challenges of UK and global food security through developing world-leading technologies, tools and leaders, tailored to the specific needs of food products. It will cover the scientific and technological requirements of the food industry along the whole value chain from 'post-farm gate to supermarket shelf', with the technical gaps being filled by a convergence of multi-disciplinary technical inputs from process engineering, chemical engineering, material science, food science, microbiology and toxicology, life cycle analysis, ICT and advanced manufacturing. Its impact will span the manufacturing paradigm from the technology/process level through to production and supply chain level with a shift from process engineering to the Engineering of New Processes. Taking such a 'Food System' approach will provide a resource efficient and food secure future of the UK food industry, by engendering vision in the UK science base and improving uptake by the industry.

What is the benefit for the UK?

With a turnover of £76.2bn (20% of the UK total), Food and Drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK employing around 400,000 people. The UK will benefit from the outputs of the Centre through an increase in productivity and efficiencies, a decrease in resource need (energy, water and raw materials) and the provision of healthier, wholesome foods to achieve positive healthcare outcomes for the population, thus having impact on Food Security and Sustainability.

Food manufacturing requires innovation in increased productivity - to produce more from less - to preserve natural resources such as water and energy, to minimise waste generation, to upgrade raw materials and to decrease the trade deficit in the sector. Crucially this will enable the UK food sector to be at the forefront of the next generation of sustainable production and to develop more resilient supply chains leading to state-of-the-art manufacturing capability, in an increasingly competitive landscape.

What will the Centre do?

The Centre will be a hub for game changing food manufacturing innovation while training the next generation of thought leaders for a sustainable food manufacturing future. This will be achieved by focusing on two specific Grand Challenges: 1) Innovative materials, products and processes and 2) Sustainable food supply and manufacture. The Centre will facilitate for its long-term sustainability through working closely with its industrial partners and a number of 'Explore' projects will be tasked to identify and develop future Grand Challenge projects. Through its outreach activities it will incorporate contact with parallel industries and new collaborators within the UK and beyond, while disseminating the knowledge developed across a wide range of food manufacturers within the value chain, from SMEs to multinationals, and from suppliers to retailers.

Who is in the Centre?

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Food brings together world leading expertise in the areas of biomaterial processing (Division of Food Sciences, University of Nottingham), chemical engineering (The Centre for Formulation Engineering, University of Birmingham) and sustainable manufacturing (The Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling/Reuse Technologies, Loughborough University) to meet the future needs of a competitive UK food industry. The Centre benefits from the interest and support of a wide range of stakeholders from ingredient producers and food manufacturers to retailers and governmental organisations, supporting the 'Food System' approach. The exploitation opportunities are evident, as the research challenges fit with the strategic themes in the new TSB High Value Manufacturing Strategy 2012-2015.

Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes

What is it?

The past 25 years have seen industrial lasers replace many 'conventional' tools in diverse areas of manufacture, enabling increased productivity, functionality and quality. However, the penetration of laser technology into some areas has been less than might have been anticipated. Recently there has been a significant 'step change-opportunity' to take laser-based processing to a new level of industrial impact.

A new generation of ultra-high quality and reliability lasers based around solid state technology (laser diode and optical fibre) has revolutionised the science and understanding of laser material interactions, providing major improvements in existing laser based processes and the viability of new revolutionary processes, e.g. joining of dissimilar materials.

A new generation of high average power laser technologies is also becoming available, offering controllable trains of ultrashort (picosecond and femtosecond) pulses, with wavelengths selectable across the optical spectrum, from the infrared through to the ultra-violet.

Such technologies open the door to a whole range of new laser-based production processes.

What is the benefit for the UK?

These new developments are being rapidly exploited in other high-value manufacturing-based economies such as Germany and the US. The new Centre will allow UK industry to take maximum advantage of these major advances by bringing together a multi-disciplinary team of leading UK researchers and key industry partners, with the goal of exploiting 'tailored laser light'.

The Centre Outreach programme will catalyse and drive the growth of a more effective and coherent UK LIM community as a strong industry/academia partnership able to influence UK/EU policy and investment strategy, to promote research excellence, and growth in industrial take-up of laser-based technology, expand UK national knowledge transfer and marketing events and improve the coordination and quality of education/training provision.

Laser-based manufacturing is a global multi-billion dollar industry with significant business opportunities for both UK manufacturers and UK companies in the laser-based machine supply chain. The Centre's industry/academic team will undertake a wide-ranging programme of coordinated research that will enable significant business growth opportunities, stimulate the broader UK community, provide leadership in developing UK public policy, infrastructure access for SMEs, and education and training for the industry.

What will the Centre do?

The Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes will be a multi-university centre with strong embedded industry engagement to provide both UK national leadership and an industry-facing globally-competitive research programme.

It will exploit the unique capabilities of laser light to develop new laser-based manufacturing processes, at both micro and macro levels, supported by new laser source, process monitoring and system technologies.

Two key research themes have been identified, covering laser precision structuring, and joining and additive processes. Research will extend from the basic science of material behaviour modelling and laser-material interaction processes to manufacturing feasibility studies with industry.

Overall, the Centre Team will build on its previous research commercialisation successes by seeking appropriate exploitation channels in consultation with its partners.

Who is in the Centre?

The Centre for innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes brings together five UK academic Centres of Excellence, Heriot-Watt University (School of Engineering and Physical Sciences), Cranfield University (School of Applied Sciences), University of Cambridge (Institute for Manufacturing ), University of Liverpool (Centre for Materials and Structures), University of Manchester (School of Materials) and 31 UK companies have confirmed their commitment to take an active role, as either core or specific project partners. The industrial foci of these companies cuts across the value supply chain for this industry, including laser process users in diverse industrial manufacturing sectors, as well as laser source, optics and laser machine manufacturers. Core partner staff have also been active with the academic team in formulating plans for the platform research portfolio and identifying the challenges which underpin the flagship research.

Although the planned Centre is industrially-focused it will also have significant impact on the academic community, involving coordinated research from world-leading teams in five universities.

Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices

What is it?

The medical technology market is estimated to be worth £200 billion worldwide. Demand for medical devices such as joint replacements, spinal fixation systems and regenerative devices that allow the body to heal around implants is growing at more than 10 per cent per annum, driven by the needs of an ageing population who expect "50 active years after 50"®. There is an expectation of increased reliability and throughout-life performance of implants in highly diverse patient populations.

The Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices will develop new ways of designing and building devices that meet the needs of particular groups of patients--so called 'stratified design and manufacture'--and personalised 'near patient manufacturing' processes. Both approaches are aimed at ensuring implants better match individual patients' needs and do so more cost effectively.

Projects will include functionally stratified design for longer lasting joint replacements; stratified manufacture of novel biological scaffolds for tissue repair that match the properties and function of an implant to natural tissue; the manufacture of fully bioresorbable spinal fixation devices; and novel near-patient and in-clinic manufacturing processes that deliver devices tailor-made to meet individual patient needs.

What is the benefit for the UK?

The strategy for the Centre has been co-created with industrial and clinical partners, and focuses on developing new approaches to the manufacture of medical devices to address global market needs, and to grow the manufacturing value chain in the UK. It will help build manufacturing in the UK and directly support the UK government's 'health and wealth' agenda.

UK industry will benefit from research that will enhance the design and manufacture of improved devices that will increase global market share. The health service and patients will benefit from more cost effective and reliable products. The centre will also develop a network of over 300 industrial partners, academics and clinicians focused on medical device innovation and manufacturing. The network will address challenges associated with increasing regulation and barriers to adoption in global markets and will support the adoption of new technology in the NHS by working with the new Academic Health Science Networks. It will play a leadership role in the development of new international standards.

What will the Centre do?

The Centre will take a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to building the manufacturing value chain in the UK. The two flagship research themes - 'Stratified Design and Manufacture' and 'Near Patient Personalised Manufacture' - will transform the design and manufacturing framework for medical devices.

Better device performance and reliability will be delivered by specific advances such as functionally stratified pre-clinical simulation and the replication of multi-scale tissue structures in near-patient manufacture using 3D printing. However, the Centre will take an integrative approach, working on everything from design solution and simulation through product manufacture to patient delivery and outcomes. The initial focus will be on medical devices for musculoskeletal and cardiovascular disease, where the cost of device failure is high and there is a clear need for throughout-life reliability.

Who is in the Centre?

The Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices brings together five UK centres of excellence in medical technology and manufacturing at the University of Leeds (Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and the Innovation and Knowledge Centre in Medical Technologies), University of Newcastle (School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering), University of Nottingham (Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering ), University of Sheffield (School of Clinical Dentistry) and University of Bradford (School of Engineering, Design and Technology).

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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