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International Collaboration the Focus of R4I 2022 Conference

Tue, 12 April, 2022

TWI, with the support of the TWI Innovation Network, was delighted to host an in-person event at its Cambridge, UK headquarters on 7-8 April 2022, welcoming around 100 attendees to a flagship conference on international collaboration.

Research for Impact: R41 2022 Conference gave audiences one and a half days of expert speakers on topics including successful project collaboration with working examples, how to attract both public funding and private investment, what the current UK funding landscape looks like for engineering technology-based R&D, and ways to maximise the potential arising from the Horizon Europe and Horizon Results Booster programmes.

The event, co-chaired by TWI’s Heidi Dyson, Group Manager, Public Funding Management and Tat-Hean Gan, Director of Innovation and Skills, kicked off with short presentations by Aamir Khalid, CEO of TWI, who explained how TWI is at the centre of a £1.2 billion research network and gave examples of break-through technologies, and Humbert Mozzi, Chair of TWI’s Council, who gave an overview of TWI’s approach to technology exploitation and commercialisation.

The morning progressed with talks by Chris Coleridge, Founder and CEO of Carbon13 on Taking the Venture Road, Paul Gadd, Deputy Director – Materials, Manufacturing and Land Transport for Innovate UK on Building the Future Economy: An Action Plan for UK Business Innovation and Geoff Rodgers, Vice Provost – Research at longstanding partner of TWI’s, Brunel University London on Leveraging Research with Public Funding. As well as acting as Co-Chair for the conference, Tat-Hean Gan gave an introduction to the TWI Innovation Network (TWIIN), demonstrating how its open ecosystem innovation model facilitates collaborative working through joint research and development (R&D) and shared workspace and labs, with academic and industrial partners, TWI’s Innovation Centres, and technical and public funding sections, TWI Industrial Members and TWIIN Subscriber companies and organisations.

The afternoon presentations showcased the collaborative projects: ISOPREP – a cost effective process for the upcycling of end of life plastics, GEODRILL – a holistic technology for geothermal drilling and IMPHORAA – a quantum leap seeking to amplify the use of renewable nano-grids in Madagascar and the Philippines. Michael Short, Professor of Control Engineering and Systems Informatics at Teesside University also discussed Smart Technology for Demand Response and Renewables Integration.

Day 1 of the conference concluded with three, highly insightful perspectives on how to attract private investment for technology-based projects: When Do I Invest? by Ashley Head; Smart Investing in Scale-Ups by Tom Onions, Managing Partner, Clear Shore Capital; and From Start-up to Scale-up: the Entrepreneurial Journey by David Gill, Managing Director, St John's Innovation Centre Ltd. Finally, a drinks reception followed with the aim of further extending the networking side of the event.

On Day 2, R4I continued with a half day dedicated to introducing attendees to the Horizon Results Booster, including what it is and how it can help projects, and the public funding opportunities available through TWIIN for SMEs, RTOs, TWI Industrial Members and TWIIN Subscriber companies and organisations. The morning finished with an audience with venture capitalists Ashley Head and Tom Onions.

An exhibition showcasing a range of current, and now concluded, publicly funded collaborative projects ran alongside the conference, and delegates were also able to attend pre-booked 1-2-1 meetings with members of TWI’s Technology Innovation Management team to take advantage of company/organisation specific advice on obtaining public funding to support technology developments.

Heidi Dyson, Group Manager, Public Funding Management at TWI said “I would like to thank all our speakers, delegates and contributing TWI colleagues for their invaluable input to making R4I 2022 such a resounding success! And with plenty of time for both networking, and exploring project and funding options, over the one and a half days, participants were able to meet new people and connect with existing contacts in person, paving the way for future collaborative R&D through joint working.”

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