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UK Research Landscape

Queen’s University and i-AMS are part of the UK’s vibrant and potent research and development landscape
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UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
UKRI's purpose is to create a flourishing R&D environment across the UK

UKRI is a body set-up to work in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.

The UKRI defines it's strategy:-

" in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses ... for research and innovation to flourish....Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion...mission is to...ensure research and innovation continues to flourish in the UK."

Under the umbrella of the UKRI there are seven(7) Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.  The Council that is particularly relevant to collaborations in manufacturing in regard to early stage research is the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).  Beyond the early stage research when the challenge is to develop and deploy applications the more relevant agency is Innovate UK.

Discover more, visit UKRI

Visit the Research Council web-sites

  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)


Innovate UK

R&D funding for Higher Education Institutions

R&D funding provided by the UK Government routed through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is distributed via the Research Councils and Innovate UK, and is directly accessible to all throughout the UK.  The funding for R&D in the universities across the UK is different due to the devolved government structure, i.e., Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. English universities obtain funding from the UKRI via Research England, while universities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales receive funding from the respective devolved administrations, each of which receives a grant from the central UK government.


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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Building the nation's knowledge and skills base through research in the engineering and physical sciences

The EPSRC is an important source for funding directed towards research into the science and technology that underpins manufacturing, and as the development of a smart, robust and productive manufacturing sector has been identified as one of the the most serious challenges facing the UK, the EPRC has "Manufacturing the future" as a core theme.

The EPSRC is part of UK Research and Innovation  (UKRI), and it's purpose is to act as:-

"...the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £800 million a year in a broad range of subjects - from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering...remit covers engineering and the physical sciences…fund research into chemistry, engineering, information and communications technologies, materials, mathematical sciences and physics."

 The EPSRC strategy is underpinned by a budget of over £1.65 billion for research and doctoral training that is directly relevant to the priority sectors identified in the UK's Industrial Strategy. The EPSRC develops the technologies, materials, advanced data management, statistical analyses and advanced instrumentation, and will continue funding excellence wherever and whenever it arises in the UK’s universities and research institutes.

Discover more, visit EPSRC

Connected Everything: Industrial Systems in the Digital Age - an important forum

The EPSRC, through the Manufacturing the Future challenge theme, funds the Connected Everything: industrial systems in the digital age. A team located in the University of Nottingham in partnership with Newcastle University and the University of Glasgow.  It's aim is to address the key challenges as digital technologies transform industrial systems. A forum for discussion and the exchange of knowledge, with support for collaborations between academics, and funding for early stage research projects conducted in partnership with industry.  It managed two funding calls for feasibility studies that generated 11 projects.

Connected Everything has six key thematic areas, i.e.,

  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • Cyber-Physical Production Systems
  • Data Analytics and Decision Making
  • Service Design and Customisation
  • Design for Future Manufacturing
  • The Future Industrial Worker

Discover more, visit Connected Everything

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Innovate UK
Innovation in business systems driving improvements in productivity and economic growth

Innovate UK focus is on the development and deployment of applications that have a direct impact on a business. While work funded by the EPSRC helps to sort out the science and demonstrate the potential of particular technologies, Innovate UK provides funding to convert the potential into tangible systems that have a direct impact on the capabilities of business.

It describes it’s purpose as:-

" productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base...strong business focus…de-risk, enable and support innovation...connect businesses to the partners, customers and business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into research and development…"

Since 2007 Innovate UK has provided, or enabled, the investment of more that £4.3 billion in business innovation across the UK. It has directly invested £2.5bn, with the remainder provided by industrial partners.

Discover more, visit Innovate UK

Knowledge Transfer Network - connecting businesses, universities, funders and investors

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is funded by, and works in partnership with, Innovate UK. Its mission is to create an environment in which businesses, academics, government agencies and research organisations come together, interact, share knowledge, and embark on joint innovative endeavours. KTN comprises a number of specialist teams covering key sectors of the economy. The Manufacturing team helps manufacturers improve their processes, and the Industrial Maths team helps industry harness the power of mathematics thereby reveal and define relationships and model solutions.

Discover more, visit KTN

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Catapult Programme - a network of world leading centres
Designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation - academia and business working together

The Catapult programme was set up in 2011, and is designed to bridge the gap between research and development and industry with the intention to encourage researchers and industry to advance innovative initiatives that might be delayed or avoided because of perceived risk. The core funding is provided by Innovate UK and supplemented by commercial contributions.

The programme consists of eleven (11) centres each focusing on a strategically important sector of the UK economy. Scientists and engineers work together on late-stage research and development projects transforming ideas with high potential into new products and services to generate economic growth. Each Catapult provides access to expert technical capabilities, equipment, and other resources required to take the work forward.

Discover more, visit the Catapult Programme

The Catapult Centres

The High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult is particularly relevant to manufacturing industry.

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High Value Manufacturing Catapult
Seven world-class industrial manufacturing innovation centres

The High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVM) is part of the Catapult Programme. Each of the seven centres concentrates on a specific aspect of manufacturing, and provides companies with facilities and skills to prove and scale-up high value manufacturing technologies, and meeting points for academics and businesses.

The High Value Manufacturing Catapult defines it's purpose as:-

"…the catalyst for the growth and success of UK advanced manufacturing…7 centres offer access to world-class equipment, expertise and collaborative opportunities…work with manufacturing businesses of all sizes and from all sectors…turn ideas into commercial applications by addressing the gap between technology concept and commercialisation."

Discover more, visit HVM

Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC)
Metal forming and forging research.
Based in the University of Strathclyde, Renfrew, Scotland.

Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)
Advanced machining, manufacturing and materials.
Based in the University of Sheffield, Rotherham, England.

Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)
Products and processes that enhance health, protect and improve the environment and increase productivity across industries.
Based in Wilton, Redcar.

Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC)
A broad range of core manufacturing  technologies and techniques and specifically the National centre for Additive Manufacturing.
Based at two locations, i.e., Peter Jost Building, Liverpool John Moores University, and Coventry, England.

National Composite Centre (NCC)
Specialising in all aspects of composites from research into new materials and manufacturing processes to appliactions.
Based at the University of Bristol.

Nuclear AMRC (NAMRC)
It's focus is to help UK manufacturing companies get ready to bid for work in the nuclear supply chain.
Based in the University of Sheffield, Rotherham, England.

WMG Catapult (WMG)
Specific interest in light weight materials, advanced propulsion systems, intelligent vehicles, energy storage and management.
Based at the University of Warwick, Coventry, England.

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National Physical Laboratory
Undertakes science and engineering that is crucial for a safe and prosperous UK now and in the future

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has a global reputation for excellence in science and engineering.  It's work underpins the UK's prosperity and quality of life. From accelerating new antibiotics and more effective cancer treatments to developing unhackable quantum communications and superfast 5G, with expertise crucial for researching, developing and testing new products and processes.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) operates under the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and defines it's role:-

"...NPL has developed and maintained the nation's primary measurement standards... delivers world-leading measurement solutions that are critical to commercial research and development, and support business success across the UK and the globe... undertake research and share our expertise with government, business and society to help enhance economic performance…"

 Discover more, visit NPL

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Science & Technology Facilities Council
Providing UK research communities and businesses access to world class science and technology facilities

STFC funds and operates a number of large science facilities [1] on behalf of the UK many offering research and development access

Queen’s University has access to the facilities [2] and the i-AMS team can enhance it’s research, development and innovation work through the competence and capabilities of the people and equipment in the STFC.


STFC has a particular research theme with a focus on engineering and enabling technologies, and can support the development of innovative technologies in areas such as detectors and instrumentation, accelerators, cryogenics, computing and e-infrastructure, advanced engineering, optics, etc.


Discover more, visit STFC [3]



[1] STFC. “Our Science Facilities”. [online]. Available at <>

[2] STFC. “Access to facilities”. [online]. Available at <>

[3] STFC <>

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