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17 March 2011 | PR 11/29

Loughborough to lead two new multi-million pound national research centres

Loughborough University has been chosen to lead two of the nine new Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centres for Innovative Manufacturing, which were announced today (17 March) by the Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts MP.

The EPSRC Centres – in Intelligent Automation and Additive Manufacturing – are to receive funding grants from the Research Council totalling almost £10 million. In addition they will receive contributions from industrial partners worth £6.5 million.

Loughborough is also involved as an academic partner in two of the other EPSRC Centres – in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation, and Industrial Sustainability – which are being led by the universities of Strathclyde and Cranfield.

The EPSRC Centres announced today were preceded by three pilot Centres, launched at the start of 2010, one of which – in Regenerative Medicine – is already based at Loughborough.

The EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing are all university-led and are being established to support emerging science in areas of strategic opportunity for manufacturing. They will feed new ideas and discoveries through to business and to the Government’s network of Technology Innovation Centres, to open up new industries and markets in growth areas.

It is envisaged that each of the EPSRC Centres will be the national ‘hub’ for research in its specific area.

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Intelligent Automation will lead the development of automated manufacturing processes that have previously been considered too difficult to automate.

“This research will help to radically improve the effectiveness of manufacturing operations in the automotive and aerospace industries and in a broad range of companies in UK manufacturing supply chains,” said Mike Jackson, Loughborough’s Professor of Machine Systems, who is leading the Centre.

The academic and industrial partners in this Centre are Cranfield University, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Aero Engine Controls, Ford, and the Manufacturing Technology Centre, in which Loughborough University is a research partner.

The Centre will receive a £4.8 million grant from the EPSRC and industrial contributions totalling £3.34 million.

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing aims to be the world centre for expertise in this fast-growing area.

“Additive Manufacturing enables custom-designed parts to be ‘printed’ in 3D, by building them layer by layer,” says Richard Hague, Loughborough’s Professor of Innovative Manufacturing, who is leading this Centre. “This allows manufacturers to make complex objects from a range of materials without the need for new tools and with very little waste – traditional manufacturing processes often remove up to 95 per cent of the raw material to arrive at a finished component, but additive machines only use the material they need to make the part.”

The EPSRC Centre for Additive Manufacturing is to receive £4.9 million from the Research Council, as well as £3.2 million in cash and in in-kind resources from 16 major multinational companies and high tech SMEs.

The research carried out at the Centre will transform the potential of Additive Manufacturing by allowing the production of ‘ready assembled’ products using multiple materials for use in a wide range of industries.

Professor Ken Parsons, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research at Loughborough, said the University was delighted to be hosting another two of the prestigious Centres.

“Investment of this kind by research councils will ensure that the UK continues to compete internationally in the manufacturing industry. We are very pleased that Loughborough is at the forefront of this initiative.

“Loughborough has a long-established, world-wide reputation for excellence in these areas of manufacturing research. That we now host three of the twelve EPSRC Centres, and are a partner in a further two, is testament to the quality of, and high industrial regard for, our research.”


For all media enquiries contact:

Hannah Baldwin
Head of PR
Loughborough University
T: 01509 222239
E: H.E.Baldwin@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

A ‘showcase’ of all the new EPSRC Centres is set to take place at Loughborough University on Friday 8 April.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative Medicine is an emerging but fast-moving field of healthcare with huge potential to transform lives for the better. It covers a wide range of therapies designed to enable damaged, diseased or defective skin, bone and other tissue, and even perhaps organs, to work normally again.

The Loughborough-based EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine, which was launched in January 2010, carries out world-leading research, tests and implements ideas in clinical and industrial settings, creates next generation platforms for manufacturing regenerative medicines and informs business models, policy and public debate.

Investment from the EPSRC will total £5.33 million over a five-year period, with industry and government partners contributing a further £3 million.


EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation

Led by the University of Strathclyde, the Centre’s university partners are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Loughborough, Cambridge and Bath, and it has ten industry partners, including AstraZeneca, GSK, Pfizer and FujiFilm.

The Centre will enable UK manufacturing to move from batch to fully continuous manufacturing processes for high value chemical products, leading to higher levels of quality, lower cost and more sustainable production.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Industrial Sustainability

Led by Cranfield University, the Centre’s university partners are Cambridge, Imperial College London, Loughborough and it has 12 industry partners, including General Motors, Unilever, Marks & Spencer and IBM.

The Centre will seek to rapidly reduce the resource and energy-intensity of the production of existing goods, and investigate options for a radical redesign of the industrial system.

Technology Innovation Centres (TICs)

In October 2010, the Government announced more than £200 million investment in a network of elite Technology and Innovation Centres to drive growth in the UK’s most high-tech industries. The centres are being established to bridge the gap between universities and businesses, helping to commercialise the outputs of Britain’s world-class research base.

The emerging research and technologies that are developed through the EPSRC Centres will form the base from which future TICs will draw. TICs will also influence the research agendas for the EPSRC Centres.

About the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC)

The Coventry-based MTC is being developed, with the backing of the Government and some of the UK’s major global manufacturers, namely Rolls-Royce, Airbus UK and Aero Engine Controls, to help UK manufacturing companies compete as effectively as possible in the international arena.

The research partners in the project are the universities of Loughborough, Birmingham and Nottingham, and TWI Ltd, the operating division of The Welding Institute.


About the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The EPSRC is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £850m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change.

The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via research Councils UK.

About Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2010 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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