Qi3, the Cambridge UK based coordinators of the Sensors Knowledge Transfer Network, sponsored by PPARC, the DTI and other Research Councils, held an event showcasing the substantial opportunities available to industry as a result of international governments’ expenditure on scientific Research Facilities. During the event it announced £2.8m of fresh research and development opportunities for industry within the PPARC Research in Industry (PRI) framework. Services on offer, including free registration on the Research Facilities suppliers’ directory, a Research Facilities Opportunities Bulletin, support for individual businesses and a range of forthcoming events were also announced.
The event was hosted by the CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire. Some 250 delegates, including some 180 from industry, heard first hand about ‘doing business with research facilities’ from Professor John Wood (CEO, CCLRC), Professor Gerhard Materlik (CEO, Diamond Light Source), Nathan Hill (Managing Director of Qi3 and leader of the Research Facilities group for the Sensors KTN and of the PPARC KITE Club Innovation Advisory Service) and Andy Hide (Space Science Business Manager, LogicaCMG).
Delegates had the opportunity to visit the ISIS pulsed neutron & muon source; the Central Microstructure Facility, Microelectronics Group and the Central Laser Facility. These tours were all packed, as were the business track briefing sessions, with delegates packing in to hear about the European Particle Physics Laboratory (CERN); doing business with the European Space Agency; fusion research facilities at JET, MAST and ITER; Diamond Light Source and the Central Laser Facility; and the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). A technology exchange ran throughout the day providing an opportunity to improve UK industry engagement with scientific research facilities around the world in terms of both supply opportunity and knowledge transfer activity. This joined up approach to research facilities brings with it huge potential benefits for the UK economy.
“The event provided an exciting networking opportunity for people to discover more about the joined up market for research facilities. I was delighted to have welcomed so many people to this event which was the first national multi-facility event of it’s kind, in particular so many senior people from industry, and facilities at CERN, ESO, BNSC and CEA-Saclay.” said Nathan Hill.
Scientific Research Facilities form a complex landscape for industry, with opportunities for technology development and supply contracts on the sales side and Knowledge Transfer opportunities for competitive advantage. The new Research Facilities group within the Sensors KTN has been formed specifically to give industry access to this market as a whole – the concept is called the ‘joined-up approach to Research Facilities’.
Until now the variety and complexity of the research facilities has made it difficult for companies to see them as a single market for government-funded projects. The Sensors KTN will enable companies to see scientific research facilities as a market in their own right. It is estimated that the market in the supply of goods and services to research facilities is worth 20 billion Euros worldwide – five billion Euros in Europe alone.
The event was one of a number of initiatives supported by the Sensors KTN. Companies and research facilities will soon be able to benefit from a new research facilities database. The database will help to support and develop supply chains between industry and research facilities and will hold details of companies and the products they supply. Companies are encouraged to register for free on the database at www.qi3.co.uk/sktn.