UK to fine-tune functional materials with �20m boost

Investments worth £20m in new functional materials aim to advance the UK’s manufacturing capability, an engineering council has announced.  

The ten research projects that will get a financial boost from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will be led by UK universities in a bid to develop the manufacturing of advanced functional materials.

“Working with academia and industry to support game-changing manufacturing projects like these is at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy,” said Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The projects will include material and manufacturing development for wearable technology, carbon nanotubes, nanoparticles for health applications, specialised glass, solar cell technology, and photonic integrated circuits.

“By supporting the jump from the manufacturing lab to the market place, we are driving innovation, creating valuable new jobs and delivering economic growth that will secure the UK’s global leadership for decades to come.”

All ten programmes were awarded around £3m each to develop, improve or produce functional materials, the total value of the initiative amounting to £32.1m – including contributions from the universities taking part and additional industry investment.

According to Professor Philip Nelson, CEO of EPSRC, these grants will take advantage of the wide-ranging capability that exists across the UK.

“The level of partnership between universities and industry means they are well positioned to advance the exploitation of the knowledge and discoveries of our pioneering scientists and engineers. These are really exciting projects that can add to the long-term prosperity of our country.”

The universities leading the projects are Bath, Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds, Southampton, UCL (University College London) and Bangor University.

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