Grand-challenge plan to involve industry in research

The UK’s Electronics Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) aims to use technological ‘grand challenges’ as a way of forming better links between the nation’s electronics companies and academia.

The KTN is organising a series of seminars at which industrialists can learn about projects to reverse engineer the brain and connect electronic circuits directly to living cells in the hope that they can find ways to commercialise aspects of the research.

Daniel Dearing, technology business manager, said the KTN has taken the microelectronics grand challenges developed by three leading UK researchers as part of a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: “It struck us that they had done really exciting work. The Grand Challenge as a title is quite inspirational.”

But, Dearing added, the project finished last year with the production of the initial report on research objectives that would form four ‘grand challenges’. The KTN’s plan is to use those reports to trigger joint industrial-academic projects along the lines of the grand challenges that could attract further EPSRC and other funding. “EPSRC invests millions of pounds and they want to know they are getting something for it. This could make EPSRC a little more confident about what the money is being spent on.

“We took it upon ourselves to pick up the ball from where it had been dropped, as it were,” said Dearing. “We asked ourselves, how would it work if we exposed this work to industry?”

The first of the seminars takes place in London on March 28.

Image: One of the Grand Challenge themes focuses on architectures inspired by the behaviour of neurons in the brain.

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