Cambridge-based technology commercialisation firm Qi3 has brokered a partnership between twelve organisations to launch a significant boost to the instrumentation research and development sector. These new activities, ‘Advanced Instrumentation’ and ‘Research Facilities’, will operate as Special Interest Groups within the Sensors Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), which is the UK’s largest network operating in this field. Qi3 will join the current managing partners, Sira and the National Physical Laboratory, and will assume specific responsibility for the operation of these new Special Interest Groups.
Organisations within the consortium are:
- Managing Partners: Sira, National Physical Laboratory, Qi3
- Funding Partners: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)
- Supporting Partners: UK Trade & Investment, trade association Gambica, the Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEE), and the Institute of Physics (IoP)
The Special Interest Groups will aim to stimulate innovation within the instrumentation sector and improve industry engagement with scientific research facilities.
Stimulating Innovation in Advanced Instrumentation
The UK instrumentation sector is worth £9 billion in annual sales and underpins £50 billion of activity in other sectors, including defence and healthcare. Nevertheless, the market is notoriously fragmented, with a few large companies operating in an international supply chain and many small companies. The UK sector has struggled to perform, with many areas of advanced instrumentation now only available from foreign manufacturers. In contrast, the UK is strong in instrumentation development within the academic research sector.
The Sensors KTN will support this sector by encouraging enhanced linkages throughout the supply chain and between research organisations and industry. A workshop on Advanced Instrumentation last November attracted a hundred participants, predominantly from instrumentation manufacturers, to discuss requirements for support in the industry.
“Sectors such as drug discovery and medical imaging depend on innovation in measurement, and rely on physicists and engineers to develop new instrumentation,” notes Dr Simon Aliwell, director of the Sensors KTN. “Our relationship with the research councils and UKAEA will help to connect academic research and the commercialisation of advanced instruments.”
Joining up the Market Opportunities in Research Facilities
A recent initiative by PPARC to bring together agencies sponsoring large scale scientific research facilities demonstrated that, whilst the UK has foresight in investing for scientific return, the question of industry engagement in research facilities is dealt with in a disjointed fashion. Companies may engage with research facilities through supply of goods and services and knowledge transfer including access to the facilities themselves which often represent unique assets for research and testing.
Qi3 MD Nathan Hill said: “We will now demonstrate that the major UK and European facilities, in which several billions of pounds are invested annually, are a major instrumentation market and a source of new knowledge for industry.”
Dr Peter Fletcher, head of PPARC’s Education and Innovation Division and speaking on behalf of Research Councils UK, the strategic partnership of the Research Councils, said: “There is strong evidence of the past benefits to the instrumentation industry of technologies developed for research, but this has never been addressed in a structured way.”
“We are delighted to be working with the DTI to bring together a consortium of research and facility funders to ensure that industry gets exposure to the whole range of instrumentation and facilities under development to ensure maximum future benefit in manufacturing research equipment and wider markets.”
Managing Director, Qi3
Email: email@example.com, and Tel: +44 (0)1223 422404
Notes for editors:
About the Sensors Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)
The Sensors KTN unites the talent and expertise of multiple UK sensing interests and organisations, including companies, universities and government departments. It embraces all sensing activity, from fundamental measurement principles to instrumentation, data processing, devices and innovative applications. www.sensorsktn.com
About Knowledge Transfer Networks
Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs) are national forums designed to stimulate innovation in the UK’s key technology sectors by promoting collaboration, best practice and knowledge sharing between industry and academia. By encouraging partnerships and teamwork, KTNs aim to position the UK as the innovation engine for Europe. KTNs are a DTI Business Support Solution delivered through the Technology Programme. www.dti.gov.uk/technologyprogramme
The Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £336 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. www.bbsrc.ac.uk
The Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) owns and operates the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire and the Chilbolton Observatory in Hampshire. These world-class institutions support the research community by providing access to advanced facilities and an extensive scientific and technical expertise. www.cclrc.ac.uk
The Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK’s strategic science investment agency. It funds research, education and public understanding in four broad areas of science – particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science. PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class facilities, and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility. www.pparc.ac.uk
UKAEA’s Culham Division in Oxfordshire is the national centre for fusion research, hosting the European flagship experiment JET on behalf of partners across Europe and with its own research programme jointly funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and EURATOM. The search for commercial fusion power at Culham is part of a global drive to produce electrical power from the process that powers the sun. www.fusion.org.uk
Qi3 is a specialist service provider that enables high-tech start-ups, technology corporations, universities and government to unite technology and the marketplace. Its key expertise is in technology commercialisation, business development and knowledge transfer. Principal activities for the public sector include the delivery of knowledge transfer brokering support; training and mentoring in technology commercialisation and support for the establishment of technology seed funds. Qi3 also provides technology market evaluation for corporate venturing organisations and technology companies and hands-on business development support. www.qi3.co.uk