EPSRC launches Fellowships for the Future of Manufacturing

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Four new fellowships that will support senior researchers in areas of manufacturing at the frontiers of technological change will be announced today by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The announcement will form part of the EPSRC's annual Manufacturing the Future conference, being held at the University of Cambridge.

The fellowship grants will allow senior researchers to spend time responding to the challenges set out in the Manufacturing Foresight report (PDF, 5.6MB) which was announced by Sir Mark Walport, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and Head of the Government Office for Science, at last year's EPSRC Manufacturing the Future Conference in Glasgow.

The awards will focus on the manufacturing research opportunities around some key technologies which, once they are integrated into future products and networks, are likely to change how products are designed, made, offered and used by consumers.

The fellowships will cover additive manufacturing, biomaterials for personalised healthcare, analytical technologies in continuous manufacturing, and passive bio-sensing wireless tag technologies.

The fellows will undertake leading research and inform the research agenda around the challenges highlighted in the Foresight report.

Announcing the Fellowships, Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said: These Fellowships are our response to the Manufacturing Foresight report. EPSRC is investing in these talented individuals to help them build teams that will develop new approaches to manufacturing and drive innovation forward in areas that show great promise for science, technology and our economy.

The Fellowships are:

Foresight Fellowship in Manufacturing: High-throughput functionalisation of biomaterials for personalised healthcare

Simon Webb, University of Manchester EP/N009134/1

This Fellowship will address one of the challenges facing us as the population ages, the need for new improved and cost-effective biomedical materials that are responsive to patient needs. It will explore robust chemical and biotechnological processes for biomaterial functionalisation needed to create these materials.

Work will focus on three key theme areas:

  1. developing simple, cheap and easy-to access methodologies for adding reactive nanoparticles to biomaterials;
  2. using synthetic biology and biotechnology to functionalise biomaterials;
  3. using synthetic chemistry to produce value-added biomaterials.

These are exciting and highly interdisciplinary areas that are ripe for exploitation but more communication between experts in different fields is needed. The Fellowship will build networks between biomaterials academics and biomaterials manufacturers to close these gaps.

Foresight Fellowship in Manufacturing: The Future of Additive Manufacturing

Professor Phill Dickens, University of Nottingham EP/N009088/1

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is seen as an underpinning technology that will enable developments in other scientific areas and will cut across all sectors.

The goal of this fellowship is to explore the range of possibilities and sees UK academics inventing entirely new AM processes that are faster than current processes, and to establish a UK Strategy for Additive Manufacturing that enables and accelerates UK industry to be world-leading at exploiting the technology.

This Fellowship will marry academics from disciplines such as physics, chemistry and materials with the existing AM community in the UK to explore the potential for volume processing materials at high speed.

Foresight Fellowship in Manufacturing: Analytical technologies in continuous and Additive Manufacturing

Jonathan Aylott, University of Nottingham (EP/N009126/1)

This Fellowship seeks to accelerate the uptake of continuous and Additive Manufacturing in the pharmaceutical industry.

Continuous manufacturing is widely used in many sectors offering a more direct route to scale-up. Continuous manufacturing processes are also flexible as the same production line can be used to manufacture a number of different products. However, quality assurance protocols in continuous manufacturing are challenging.

The work of this Fellowship involves a fundamental healthcare engineering challenge: to address the analytical challenges preventing uptake of continuous manufacturing in the pharmaceutical industry. Through the development of scientific infrastructure to integrate innovative analytical technology in continuous and additive manufacturing processes there are opportunities to change the way a wide range of pharmaceutical products are manufactured.

Foresight Fellowship in Manufacturing: Defining and Fabricating New Passive Bio-Sensing Wireless Tag Technologies

John Batchelor, University of Kent (EP/N009118/1)

This fellowship will explore how to produce passive sensors through Additive Manufacturing. Passive sensors are sensors that do not need a battery and can be read wirelessly. This allows them to be very small and long-lasting, widening the opportunities for sensor applications.

Producing passive wireless biosensors is a major challenge that crosses several discipline boundaries: Bioscience, materials science, electronic engineering, chemistry, ink formulation and additive manufacture. Mass or bespoke production of these devices will have many potential applications including health monitoring, assistive technologies and the Internet of Things.

This fellowship will focus on microscale sensors that can be directly integrated into surfaces of medical implants, packaging or transfer tattoos. Initial applications investigated will be detection of biofilms on silicone valves in voice prostheses and efficient epidermal sensing tags for skin based health monitoring.

Notes for Editors

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate.

By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture.

We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

Reference: PN 46-15

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