Cutting-edge UK innovation: Night vision, recycling & world-leading vaccine research

Simon Edmonds reports on the latest success stories from Qioptiq, ICoNiChem and the University of Oxford. Plus, a reminder of the support available for projects involved with zero- and low-emission vehicles and technologies.

Qioptiq: £82m contract win with Ministry of Defence (MoD)

Night Vision Goggles - Rangers team during night operation hostage rescue.view through – image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Photonics supplier Qioptiq provides essential night vision equipment – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

It is good to start 2019 with positive news about the success of a UK company which is innovating and growing their business.

An Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) has helped photonics supplier Qioptiq secure its largest-ever contract, £82m, ensuring UK armed forces around the world can access essential night vision equipment.

The KTP gave the business access to research expertise at Cardiff Business School, and it’s predicted that with Qioptiq’s support, the MoD will save £47m, while helping troops to stay safe.

As a result of the win, Qioptiq has opened a £3.7m warehouse in North Wales to deliver the contract and increased its staff numbers.

This article first appeared in the February issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here.

ICoNiChem: recycling rare materials in electric vehicles

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is supporting work to improve recycling in the UK electric vehicle industry helping cars to be powered more sustainably.

The electric vehicle industry is already growing rapidly, and with the UK government’s plan to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040, the market is only set to grow.

In turn, demand for critical elements such as cobalt, nickel, manganese, lithium and graphite, commonly used in the production of electric vehicle batteries, will also rise.

Cobalt salts producer, ICoNiChem from Widnes is leading a project to embed recycling and reuse of materials in the electric vehicle supply chain – and tackle some of the problems associated with the sourcing and use of these elements.

ICoNiChem is working alongside Warwickshire Manufacturing Group (WMG) and others, in a recycling and reuse project through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Faraday Battery Challenge.

Project funding from the £246m Faraday battery challenge – which aims to develop new battery technologies for electric vehicles – is delivered by Innovate UK and the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), both part of UK Research and Innovation.


Vaccines manufacturing innovation in the UK

Manufacturing is supported through the industrial strategy across many different sectors. An important and exciting area of investment is through the Medicines Manufacturing Challenge, which recently awarded funding of £66m for a pioneering Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

Based in Oxford, the new centre will help to tackle disease worldwide as well as further boosting the growth of the UK’s £70bn life sciences industry.

The UK’s world-leading research and innovation expertise is ideally placed to create new, cost-effective ways of developing and manufacturing vaccines for global distribution, as well as ensuring the UK’s own preparedness in the event of a pandemic.

The centre is expected to open in 2022, with the first products from the centre expected later that year.

This important project is being led by the Jenner Institute, a partnership between the University of Oxford and the Pirbright Institute.


HVM Catapult

This last year has been another extremely busy one for our network of seven world-leading manufacturing technology and innovation centres that make up the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

The Catapult has recently published its annual review, which sets out the ground-breaking work. For more details.


Competitions update

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £20m for collaborative projects that significantly reduce emissions and help to build the UK supply chain.

The competition, funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) will invest in business projects that support the design, build and manufacture of zero- and low-emission vehicles and technologies.

The deadline for applications is midday on 6 March 2019. For more information, please click here.

Innovate UK

UK innovation - Simon Edmonds, deputy executive chair & chief business officer, Innovate UK.
Simon Edmonds, deputy executive chair & chief business officer, Innovate UK.

For more information on any of Innovate UK’s funding opportunities, please contact the customer support service:

Feedback! All feedback gratefully received. I can be found on Twitter: @SJSEdmonds