�10 million offered towards electronics manufacturing research
£10 million in research funds is available to university researchers interested in collaborating with the electronics industry to develop new manufacturing technologies.
The funding is on offer from the Innovative Electronics Manufacturing Research Centre (IeMRC), which is now seeking proposals for flagship research projects. Each could receive up to £2 million, and will bring together industrial sponsors and multiple academic institutions.
IeMRC co-ordinator Dr Darren Cadman said that the centre has funded research in 22 universities in the five years since it was set up, including flagship projects on power electronics and on manufacturing optical PCBs. He said that the new money, which has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Research Council, will enable it to continue its work for another five years.
"What makes a really good project for us is that it has really strong industrial leadership," he said. "We are looking for research that's still far from market, where the company has an interest but can't resource it themselves.
"We would also like to see the project developed and the technology exploited, and we are looking for UK companies or companies with a significant UK supply channel. The company's contribution can be in kind - guidance, facilitation, perhaps access to manufacturing facilities for prototyping," he added.
The IeMRC's current industrial backers include BAE Systems, NMI, Goodrich Engine Control Systems, NPL, Sarantel, e2v, TWI and Dynex.
Dr Cadman said that as well as multi-institutional flagship projects, "We also fund what we'd call standard projects, lasting two to three years, based at a one or two institutions and at a level of about £800,000, a call for which will be announced at our annual conference on 2nd September. We also fund feasibility studies and some knowledge transfer activities."
Although the IeMRC is based at Loughborough University, it can fund research at any institution in the UK. This is rather different from the programme of Innovative Manufacturing Research Centres - also funded by the EPSRC - and is intended to better support the diverse and fragmented electronics industry by allowing research to take place where it is most appropriate, Dr Cadman said.
He added that he expects there to be funding for two or three flagship projects, with applications closing on 7th August 2009.