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16 December 2004 PR 04/128

Loughborough University working with business

A joint project between Loughborough University and Scientific Vacuum Systems (SVS) Ltd has received a national award in recognition of its success.

A team from the University’s Department of Physics and Institute for Surface Science and Technology (ISST) worked with the company as part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme.

Pictured receiving their award is Dave Hall (first left), Dr Mike Cropper (second left), Terry Shimell (fifth left) and Chris Aitken (right).

KTP is a UK-wide programme that helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge found within Higher Education Institutions, Research Organisations and Further Education Colleges.

The Loughborough project was one of eight to be given a KTP award at a prestigious ceremony held in London. It was presented to the University’s Dr Michael Cropper and David Hall, and Terry Shimell and Chris Aitken of SVS Ltd. The late Professor Ron Howson, who was retired from Loughborough University, also played a key role in the early stages of the project.

The team’s award-winning work centred on the development of a process for making hard diamond-like carbon coatings for use on a wide variety of products in the technological, tribilogical and biomedical fields. The process was developed at SVS by the KTP associate Chris Aitken, a graduate employed by the University to work on the project, and benefited from Loughborough’s expertise in surface and thin film physics. The process is being marketed by SVS Ltd as Blue Diamond.

Speaking about the award Dr Cropper said: “We are very pleased to receive this award, which recognises the success of the project and the commercial benefit to SVS Ltd in terms of new export orders generated. It is a good example of the importance of physics and materials science to new engineering developments.”

For further information about KTP projects with Loughborough University please contact the Knowledge Transfer Office by calling 01509 223110 or emailing kt@lboro.ac.uk


For further information contact:

Notes to editors

1. A photograph of the Loughborough team receiving their award is available upon request. Please contact Judy Smyth for further information.

2. The Department of Physics at Loughborough University has a RAE research grading of 4 and specialises in surface and nanoscale physics, quantum information and computing, materials physics, and quantum structures.

3. The Institute for Surface Science and Technology specialises in surface analysis and is now based within Loughborough University’s Institute for Polymer Technology and Materials Engineering, which also has a RAE research grading of 4.

4. Other university and business partnerships which won KTP awards were:

University of Northumbria helped P & L Systems Limited embed a new product development process resulting in the company’s diversification away from their traditional insect control products into a broad range of hygiene products.

Cardiff University worked with Richards, Moorehead and Laing Limited to develop a system for using wastes as cement replacements, resulting in concrete products with enhanced properties.

University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Cambridge Life Sciences developed a system that allows doctors to diagnose heart attacks in the A&E department or doctor’s office in less than 10 minutes instead of relying on the laboratory tests taking between two and four hours to complete.

University of Portsmouth and Infranor Limited developed an intelligent database for monitoring industrial machinery, whilst the machinery is in use manufacturing products, over the Internet and assessing their performance in the field. This system is completely automatic with no need for a human observer and reduces dependency on routine maintenance.

Queen’s University and Consarc Design Group Limited worked together to aid the conversation of historic buildings by producing a database for the specification of repairs, new stones and surface treatments for natural stone.

Napier University helped Canan Limited establish a multi-media department enabling them to develop an online platform for the delivery of e-learning materials in British minority languages.
Coventry University and Touchstone Housing Association Limited have developed an innovative asset management system allowing them to make strategic decisions about their properties by balancing commercial viability with social issues.

5. There are currently 882 Partnerships across the UK.

6. Each partnership employs one or more recently qualified people to work in a company on a project of strategic importance to the business. In this way the academic partner is also provided with relevant and improved understanding of business requirements and operations.

7. KTP is funded by 11 Government organisations led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Each Partnership is part funded by Government with the balance of the costs coming from the company partner.

8. KTP aims to:

9. For further information on KTP please visit http://www.ktponline.org.uk or call the KTP helpline on
0870 190 2829.

10. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 45% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; and for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development.

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