The Royce: Capitalising on the investment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

The Royce works across the range of technology readiness levels (TRLs 1-5). With its hub at The University of Manchester, the Institute has spokes at six partner universities of Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London, as well as at the UK Atomic Energy Authority and National Nuclear Laboratory. This project aims to capitalise on the original Royce investment through a distributed team of business and research development managers. This resource will drive participation and impact by facilitating a range of activities including community engagement, facilities access and industry training. This project will provide Partners with the resources to establish community-driven networks to ensure that the Royce is aware of, responds to, and serves the needs of these communities.
As leaders in their respective core areas, Partners are well placed to exploit their Royce facilities for world-class research through standard research grant and industrial funding mechanisms. The Royce was however established to change the research landscape by fostering new levels of collaboration so as to spread the benefits of the Royce far beyond the recipients of the capital investment. To do this a coordinated approach is required to move away from the ownership of specific kit by individual academics to the concept of integrated 'research supply chains'. These will link together the necessary modelling, fabrication, testing, analysis, and demonstration facilities needed to deliver prototype materials, devices and systems. This integrated 'research supply chain' approach is well suited to challenge-led investments aimed at delivering targeted research outcomes in the UK. For this approach to work in practice, dedicated staff are required who are able to bring together the relevant communities to identify opportunities that should be prioritised and the mechanisms required to link together these facilities. At a more problem-focused level, the intention is to establish a clear 'front door' to Royce to enable industrial partners, ranging from Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) to large corporations, to engage with the Institute through direct engagement on a project-by-project basis to solve specific problems.
It is also the Royce's ambition to help develop a new generation of highly skilled researchers in advanced materials. To complement our existing plans for PhD/CDT training, here we focus on supporting industry with uptake of new materials, technologies, methods and analysis/modelling techniques. Working with professional bodies and other partners, we plan to set up a series of training activities, workshops, sandpits, awareness meetings and lectures to ensure that UK industry can assess, try out and become proficient in emerging techniques and methods.

Planned Impact

The Royce provides an opportunity to make a step change in the way materials science research is done in the UK, however the capital investment is not sufficient in itself. For the benefits of the facilities to be felt beyond the Partners, and if we are to create a more joined-up materials community, we require staffing resource who can make the total greater than the sum of the parts. This team will complement the scientific leadership from the academic champions in engaging with, and receiving input from, the wider community.

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