Demonstrating the value of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Posted on 11 Sep 2018 by The Manufacturer

This month, Simon Edmonds reports on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership success story that has led to a breakthrough robotic winding machine that works with carbon fibre, and investment in the UK’s new Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Renfrewshire.

MMIC (Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre) partners at the launch
MMIC (Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre) partners at the launch.

A significant investment I wish to highlight this month is the UK’s new Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC), which is a ‘world first’ for the UK.

The new £56m centre will be built in Renfrewshire, Scotland. It offers pharma companies, from start-ups through to multinational organisations, a unique service to develop and adopt novel manufacturing techniques to adapt into their own manufacturing processes.

Protecting future generations by bringing new medicines to market safely and quickly is one of the biggest health challenges facing the world today, so by transforming processes and technologies, the speed of bringing these new drugs to market could improve drastically.

It’s a global market worth £98bn, so this investment will help put the UK at the forefront of technology and innovation in small-molecule pharmaceutical and fine-chemical manufacturing, which still makes up the bulk of how new medicines are made.

The pharmaceutical sector in Scotland alone employs 5,000 people directly and supports a further 16,500 jobs.

The new centre will act as a focal point to coordinate and drive UK medicines manufacturing innovation by working with academia, industry, SMEs, innovation centres and the regulatory community.

UK Research and Innovation, through Innovate UK, has invested £13m in the new centre, alongside Scottish Enterprise, which has contributed a further £15m. GSK and AstraZeneca have also committed to invest £7m each.

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

The MMIC will be positioned next to the £65m National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) and aims to attract more than £80m of R&D investment by 2028.

This is a fantastic investment for the UK, with UK Research and Innovation leading the charge to bring the UK government’s modern Industrial Strategy to life – translating research into commercial success, building on our industrial strengths and sustaining economic prosperity across our communities.

Success story

Knowledge Transfer Partnership - Cygnet Texkimp's 3D winding technology for the car and aeroplane light weighting market could disrupt the fibre industry.
(L-R) Professor Prasad Potluri, Andy Whitham and Dr Yan Liu.

The popular Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme has supported the development of a carbon-fibre winding machine to create complex and curved components for next-generation cars and aeroplanes.

Specialist machinery manufacturer Cygnet Texkimp and the University of Manchester have created a cutting-edge machine to support the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and aeroplanes.

The ‘3D Winder’ is the world’s first robotic winding machine capable of laying carbon fibre to make complex, lightweight composite parts for industry.

Through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership, the Northwich-based company brought in PhD graduate and composites academic, Dr Yan Liu, to develop this technology to work with more complex and curved shapes.

Following the success of the partnership, Yan was offered a permanent role at Cygnet Texkimp’s R&D centre. Since the project ended, the 3D Winder has gone on to be recognised by industry. In 2017 it won the Composites UK Trade Association’s innovation in composite manufacture award.

For more information on this interesting project, please see: 

To find out more how a Knowledge Transfer Partnership can help your company, visit:

Competition news

Low Carbon = Worcestershire has pledged to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points across the county - image courtesy of Pixabay
£20m is available from the APC to develop low-carbon technologies – image courtesy of Pixabay.

Finally, this month, here are details of some of our latest funding competitions that are now open for businesses.

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) has £20m to invest in technologies that support the development of low-carbon propulsion technology in the UK and anchor a next-generation supply chain.

Innovate UK is delivering the competition; the deadline for applications is midday on 3 October 2018. For more information, please see:

Turning now to the Women in Innovation Awards 2018, UK businesswomen can apply for one of eight Women in Innovation Awards: £50,000 funding each and a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support.

The aim of this competition is to find women with exciting, innovative ideas and ambitious plans that will inspire others. The competition deadline is also midday on 3 October 2018. For more information please see:

Innovate UK

Simon Edmonds, director of Manufacturing and Materials, Innovate UK.
Simon Edmonds, director of Manufacturing and Materials, 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