With over 30 journal papers, 100 industry-significant proposals and more than 20 technical projects currently running, the Innovation Hub at TWI is demonstrating that it is a recipe for success in applied research and development across a new generation of engineering technologies.
A hub of Innovation Centres established at TWI is already proving that successful joint industry research partnerships can offer a valuable platform for knowledge exchange and in presenting new opportunities for research and innovation. A total of eight such Innovation Centre partnerships with an engineering focus have so far been established at TWI with more under development.
The Innovation Centres are positioned to share research and technology capabilities, undertake joint research programmes and develop the next generation of technologies and engineers in the selected research disciplines. There are also close links with TWI’s National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) which carries out industry led postgraduate research focused on structural integrity technologies.
The first Innovation Centre in the new hub was established in 2009 with Brunel University, to concentrate on acoustic wave and allied technologies covering a range of materials, sensors, electronics and software systems. Project successes in the renewable energy sector for example have included condition monitoring of rotating machinery operating wind turbines and autonomous ice protection combining guided ultrasonic waves and electrothermal systems.
Each Innovation Centre sees collaboration between a partner university and industry, operating at TWI headquarters in Cambridge:
Brunel University London’s Brunel Innovation Centre (BIC), established in 2011. BIC has been awarded £28 million in funding: £13 million from across UK and wider European platforms (including the European Commission’s Horizon 2020), and £15 million from HEFCE towards NSIRC aligned with Brunel University London’s role as lead academic partner in the initiative. Since start-up, the BIC has grown to more than 30 staff.
London South Bank Innovation Centre (LSBIC), established in August 2015. LSBIC has since won over £1.8 million in funding through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. The current team of seven London South Bank University staff at TWI is set to increase. Three NSIRC / LSBIC PhD students have already begun their studies at TWI.
Smart Asset Management Innovation Centre (SAMIC), an Innovation Centre established by the Transport System Catapult and launched in December 2015. SAMIC has secured over £700k of funding through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme and £150k through InnovateUK. The staff team is currently being recruited.
Advanced Resins and Coatings Technologies Innovation Centre (ARCTIC), established in August 2016 by London South Bank University. ARCTIC has secured £132k of funding through InnovateUK in its first two months of operation and over £500k of funding through the European Commission's H2020 programme. ARCTIC Director Dr Geraldine Durand and a PhD student are performing fundamental research in coatings, nanomaterials and hybrid resins.
Brunel Composites Centre (BCC), set up in September 2016. This is the second Innovation Centre to be established by Brunel University London. The Centre will create a shared research and technology capability specialising in novel composites processing and joining technologies applied to industrial environments.
Materials [Metallic and Alloys] Innovation Centre (MatIC), set up by The University of Leicester at the end of 2016. This Centre is focusing on materials characterisation and novel materials development. The centre will undertake joint research programmes and develop the next generation of technologies and engineers in this discipline.
Joining 4.0 Innovation Centre (J4IC), launched in November 2016, with a mission to expand research activities in smart manufacturing systems and create a Lancaster University research team located at TWI headquarters. The Innovation Centre benefits from the expertise and reputations of both Lancaster and TWI in the exploitation of new technologies and will deliver the benefits of Industry 4.0.
Healthcare Innovation Centre (HIC), launched in February 2017 in collaboration with the University of Teesside to carry out world-leading research that makes a significant impact on people’s lives and wellbeing. The centre will draw on existing strengths at Teesside University and TWI to create a centre of excellence in healthcare technologies.
Please email Professor Tat-Hean Gan, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ameni Lounissi, email@example.com, if you have any enquiries about the Innovation Hub at TWI.
Article first published in January 2017 revised May 2017.