Future Formulation of Complex Products

The Manufacturing the Future and Physical Sciences Themes of EPSRC are looking to support a series of projects addressing challenges in formulation science. The goal is to develop and improve manufacturing processes for the production of complex structured products, based on interdisciplinary research in fundamental and applied science. EPSRC already supports a range of activities which relate to the broad area of formulation science, including several Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) and Centres for Innovative Manufacturing, as well as underpinning investigator-led research in physical sciences, manufacturing and engineering. This call aims to provide a focused range of activity across the EPSRC funding spectrum that will provide support for onward activities in the innovation and industrial sectors.

Background

Formulated products are characterised by being composed of multiple chemical components in a range of states interacting with one another to produce a metastable compound, which could be in the form of a powder, foam or an emulsion for example. In many cases, the product is required to arrive at the desired destination in a certain condition, which will change upon arrival in order to deliver the required effect; hence their inherent instability is a fundamental and desirable characteristic. Improved performance of products based on formulation science is of interest and relevance to a wide range of UK-based industries whose interests are not necessarily in direct competition with one another. Many intermediate substances used in production processes, as well as products such as paints, greases, foodstuffs, hair-care products, agrochemicals and medicines can be formulated products. The cumulative value of formulated products to the UK is significant, with sales and exports of formulated products estimated to be in the order of £180bn per year (Chemistry Innovation KTN Strategy Report 2010).

Despite the wide range of formulated products already in the commercial market there are a number of scientific and manufacturing challenges that remain in this sector. These apply to everything from the development of entirely new structured products to improving the performance (in terms of appearance, behaviour and stability) and understanding of existing products.

This call reflects the current importance of formulation science to industry and complements a number of other initiatives. Formulation is one of the 22 priorities identified in the Innovate UK High Value Manufacturing strategy. The National Formulation Centre, linked with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult has recently been approved and the pharmaceutical industry, led by the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership, is actively engaged in seeking funding for a National Digital Design Centre. Other industrial initiatives include the Chemistry Growth Partnership and the Food Industry Partnership. This call in formulation provides an opportunity for scientific investigation lower down the research value chain to support the work of these initiatives and provide a coherent, coordinated programme of activities of value to a wide range of end users.

For further details of the call, please refer to the full call document available under the "Resources" heading on this page.

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