The FINANCIAL — The University of Liverpool has been awarded a share of the Government’s £1 billion investment in science to establish Europe’s first Materials Innovation Factory.
The multi-million pound centre, established in collaboration with Unilever, will develop a new generation of functional materials for science and industry and accelerate the research and development process by a factor of 200. Creating unique suite of state-of-the-art, open access facilities, the project is one of five to receive funding from the Government’s Research Partnership Investment Fund and will generate new science to underpin the advanced manufacturing sector in the UK.
Chancellor, George Osborne, said: “Today we deliver with some of our leading businesses and universities £1 billion of new science investment in the areas where we lead the world.”
The new centre will ultimately accommodate researchers from a number of higher education and industry partners with the potential to work collaboratively to develop new science for a number of sectors.
The development of new materials is of vital importance to sectors such as energy, home and personal care, pharmaceuticals, genomics, food and drink, paints and coatings, and biomanufacturing. As the University of Liverpool reported, these fields are of fundamental importance to sustainability and healthcare and critical to the future competitiveness of the UK.
The University’s Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science and Engineering, Professor Stephen Holloway, said: “The new centre will build on our world-class expertise in materials science and enable some of the most important sectors of the economy to benefit from innovations in this area. This new facility, unparalleled in Europe, will strengthen the impact of the UK’s research base and help to promote the UK’s economic growth.”
The centre will be home to around 140 researchers from the University who will collaborate with scientists from other organisations, working closely on a number of areas from materials synthesis through to genomics. Researchers will also focus on the use of non-petrochemical feedstocks for use in the development of new functional and sustainable materials.
University scientists will carry out collaborative research into the development of nanomedicines using nanostructured organic materials which have the potential to transform certain areas of healthcare. Research in the area of biotechnology will enable the analysis of microbial populations by direct DNA sequencing, with the potential to deliver entirely new product lines such as personalised care formulations.
The use of inorganic materials to transform technologies in energy, catalysis, healthcare and information storage applications, will also provide a key focus for research, as well as the further development of high throughput formulation techniques.
Unilever and the University already have a long-standing research partnership in the area of product and process innovation. Scientists from both organisations collaborate at the University’s Centre for Materials Discovery (CMD), where research has improved the effectiveness and sustainability of Unilever’s household products.