Giving small businesses access to world-leading large-scale research facilities

The impacts of the government’s new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund are increasingly being felt by UK manufacturers. Here, Karminder Johal explains how a novel initiative by the University of Birmingham is bringing big science to small businesses.

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The UK is responsible for some of the greatest innovations; including the web, satellites and touchscreen technology.

The UK is rightly renowned for its cutting-edge science, technology and engineering heritage. Even today, this drive for knowledge and discovery enables the UK to be a world leader, responsible for some of the greatest innovations on and off the planet; including the web, satellites and touchscreen technology.

The University of Birmingham, which has its own reputation as a centre for pioneering work, has now teamed up with the Science, Technology and Facilities Council (STFC) and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) to bring big science to small businesses.

Science to Industry is an innovative programme dedicated to solving industry’s technical challenges. From lasers to high-performing computing, and from space science to advanced microelectronics and imaging, we want to lend a hand in solving real problems faced by industry.

Problem solving

With access to a community of more than 2,000 leading scientists, technologists and engineers, along with world-leading instruments, we are ready and waiting to solve product, process or R&D-based technical problems.

From manufacturing and engineering to life sciences and information technology we want to engage with industry to maximise productivity, reduce costs or waste, and create a positive economical and societal impact.

Don’t just take our word for it. As a global leader in aero-engine provision, Rolls-Royce strives to make continuous improvements in crucial areas such as fuel efficiency, noise reduction and emissions performance.

With innovation at the forefront of the company’s reputation, Rolls-Royce wanted to improve its design-to-assembly process and its overall product quality. Working with scientists, technologists and engineers from STFC, the company was able to speed up this process by using state-of-the-art high-performance computing.

It was also able to enhance the quality of its components by using cutting-edge imaging technology that could detail component performance from the atomic to the whole assembly level, supporting Rolls-Royce in maintaining its global position.

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

The University of Birmingham also offers a variety of initiatives that support SMEs across various Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). Our academic links can help to nurture your project throughout its life cycle, from developing skills, resources and personal development, to establishing feasibility and proof of concept.

We engage in ground-breaking collaborative and contract research partnerships and can source funding support to transform ideas into realities. Each year, thousands of students graduate from the University, creating a motivated and sizeable talent pipeline for your business.

Science to Industry is ready and waiting to solve your technical challenges through some of the best science the UK can offer. We will work closely with you to understand the depth of your technical problem, advise on the relevant facility that can offer a solution for the desired outcome and fast forward to speaking with the appropriate technicians and scientists to identify whether there is a valid solution to the problem and what that entails.

Financed by the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, let us make a difference to your business.

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