EPSRC Capital Award for Core Equipment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Chemistry


As highlighted in its Strategic Framework (2015-20), the University of Birmingham (UoB) is committed to creating "a research environment where academic innovation, rigour and impact are achieved through investment in talented personnel, outstanding facilities and strong collaborative networks". As such, the UoB recognises and prioritises the central importance of access to state-of-the-art equipment and research infrastructure for staff at all career levels. A key part of this strategy is the acquisition of equipment that supports research activities over multiple disciplines across the UoB.

The University of Birmingham has put in place a robust and transparent process for the allocation of the EPSRC Capital Award for Core Equipment. Teams working on strategically important research areas across the College of Physical Engineering were invited to submit expressions of interest, which were then evaluated by senior members of the University, including the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer. Two research themes were selected: Battery Research and Healthcare Technologies. The equipment requested in this application (a 128 Channel Battery cycler and a 3D Bioplotter) will benefit multiple users working across many departments on research directly relevant to the EPSRC research portfolio. Prof Constantinos Constantinou (Director of Research, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham), having responsibility for the equipment strategy, will the project's Principal Investigator.

Technical support will be provided from the central technical teams to manage these two items of multi-user equipment in terms of procurement, installation, and maintenance. The PI and Co-Is will use a booking calendar to monitor the success of multi-user assess to the system. Through quarterly reports the success of the project to initiate new avenues or develop existing research objectives will be monitored. This will include keeping a record of any grant submissions, journal papers, conference presentations, collaborative projects (academic or industrial), and teaching related activities (PhD, MSc or UG projects) that will use the new equipment.

Planned Impact

1) Theme One: Battery Research - 128 Channel Battery cycler

Economic Impact and Commercialisation
The knowledge and IP created through this work will be a springboard for higher TRL projects for manufacture and integration and proof of concept for alternative markets, in addition to the automotive and stationary power market.

Local and international collaborators
The strengthening of our battery testing facilities will enhance our output in the battery area, and further UoB's international reputation in this area. This will aid in building up further links with groups within Europe and further afield, leading to the potential to develop future research proposals for battery research through international funding opportunities. Further development of this research will also exploit the links with the Energy Research Accelerator.

Increasing the skilled workforce
A direct output of the new battery facilities will be highly skilled researchers who have developed multidisciplinary skills in the energy research area. In particular, it will allow us to increase the number of researchers (PDRA, PhD, MSci/BSc) who will be trained in the usage of battery cyclers.

Societal and Environmental. These battery research projects have the potential to have major impact on the UK automotive sector and other energy storage areas, contributing to economic and jobs growth, as well as improvements to meet environmental targets.

2) Theme Two: Healthcare Technologies - 3D Bioplotter

Local and Wider Impact. The proposed work will have direct impact on knowledge generation through world-leading experimental studies of medical device fabrication. Various academic groups, with a variety of multidisciplinary expertise will be involved in these studies, which will support widespread dissemination of these exciting developments. This interdisciplinary research will also help maintain the UK's prominent biomaterials field and establish it as a leader in contributing new knowledge in the 3D printing of medical devices.

Economic impact and commercialisation. The inherent interdisciplinary nature of this research delivered through utilisation of this new 3D bioprinter combined with the clinical, translational, and enterprise support offered through the University of Birmingham Enterprise and translational experts from the Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre based at in the Institute of Translation Medicine, will ensure that these findings are widely disseminated to all potential industrial and clinical partners.

Education. The lifETIME (Engineered Tissues for Discovery, Industry and Medicine) CDT is a partnership between the University of Glasgow, the University of Birmingham, Aston University and CÚRAM - Science Foundation Ireland commencing in October 2019. The students being trained through this EPSRC funded CDT will directly benefit from the new system, and will inherently promote national and international academic and industrial collaborations.


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