EPSRC Sandpit: New Industrial Systems

A day at BCIT aerospace technology campus by Mike CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A day at BCIT aerospace technology campus by Mike CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A day at BCIT aerospace technology campus by Mike CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

EPSRC is running an Ideas Factory Sandpit on New Industrial Systems in May 2017. The deadline for expressions of interest is 2nd March 2017.

New Industrial Systems Sandpit

What’s the theme?

The sandpit seeks to address the challenge of competitiveness in the future UK economy by focusing on manufacturing technologies and trends. Four research visions have been identified by the Manufacturing the Future theme:

  • Sustainable Industries (e.g. a future where business models take account of resource usage, resilience and security)
  • Digital Manufacturing (e.g. simulation and visualisation of design and manufacturing)
  • 21st Century Products (e.g. smart and multi-functional products)
  • New Industrial Systems, which sits at the intersection of the other three areas

The sandpit aims to build a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges in developing new industrial systems, identify a common language between disciplines, facilitate interactions between researchers and users, and identify and address the key research challenges in this area. It is expected that up to £5M of EPSRC funding will be made available to fund research projects arising from this sandpit.

Who should attend?

EPSRC give the following examples of disciplines which could apply to attend: engineering, design, materials science, physical sciences, mathematics, computer science, economics, social sciences, sustainability, life sciences, energy systems. Attendees need not have worked on the problem before and need not have previously secured EPSRC funding. The emphasis will be on people who are open to explore new ideas and connections with other disciplines.

What will happen at the sandpit?

The Sandpit event itself will take place over five days from 15-19 May 2017 at Stratford Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon. The events will draw on ideas from a broad range of disciplines so attendees should expect to be able to develop relationships with other participants and communicate concepts and ideas in a way that is understandable and engaging to those outside your immediate area.

There is more information in the guidance on how sandpits work, but they are generally very intensive and rewarding experiences which offer an excellent chance of securing funding (as this is restricted to attendees).

How do I apply?

The deadline for expressions of interest to attend the Sandpit is 2nd March 2017. 25-30 participants will be selected and must be available for the full five-day duration. To apply you will need to complete the EoI form on the call page.

Given the high likelihood of securing EPSRC funding as a result of sandpit attendance, these calls are often highly competitive. The assessment will be based on the ability to develop new, adventurous and highly original research; the potential to contribute to research at the interface between disciplines; the ability to work in a team; the ability to explain research to non-experts. You will need to give evidence of your ability to meet these criteria in the EoI.

Please contact your Faculty Research Funding and Policy Manager if you are interested in discussing this further.


EPSRC Future Photonics Hub Innovation Fund 2016

A light symphony by Kevin Dooley CC BY
A light symphony by Kevin Dooley CC BY

EPSRC has recently announced a call for research projects which add value to and support the objectives of the Future Photonics Hub: http://www.zeplerinstitute.ac.uk/events/innovationfund

Up to £250K is available which may be split among several proposals or awarded to a single proposal. Funding is based on usual EPSRC rules of 80% FEC. Proposal is via a two page application emails to contact@photonicshubuk.org.

The priority areas for the hub are:

  • High-performance silica optical fibres
  • Light generation and delivery
  • Silicon Photonics
  • Large-scale manufacture of metamaterials and 2D materials

Please contact your Faculty Research Funding and Policy Manager if you are interested in applying.


Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing (NMBP) – Overview of the NMBP 2017 Call

Date: 03 May 2016, 09.30 to 13.00

Venue: Research Beehive, Room 2.21

This event is focussed on the Horizon 2020 area of Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing (NMBP), part of the Leadership in Enabling Industrial Technologies (LEIT) part of Horizon 2020. Dr Kalyan Sarma, the UK National Contact Point for the H2020 NMBP, will be giving an overview of the funding opportunities available in the next NMBP call and will also provide an overview of the NMBP results in Horizon 2020 to date. Professor Kenny Dalgarno will present the RESTORATION project as a Newcastle University case study. Dr George Kotsikos will present an expert evaluator case study. The event is open UK wide so please feel free to share this with colleagues who might be interested in attending.

Please register to secure your place: http://forms.ncl.ac.uk/view.php?id=9765

LEIT will support the development of technologies underpinning innovation across a range of sectors. Horizon 2020 will have a strong focus on developing European industrial capabilities in Key Enabling Technologies (KETs).

This part of the programme covers different areas :


EPSRC Invites Proposals Which Address Key Research Challenges Facing…

EPSRC invites proposals that tackle challenges experienced in the Manufacturing Industry today in the UK.

The Manufacturing The Future theme has proiritised Investigator-Led Research Projects.

There is no closing date for this appeal, but proposals are organised around batching dates. The next set of batching dates are 27th February 2015 and 31st August 2015.

For more information, please click here.



EPSRC invites expressions of interest for Future Manufacturing Fellowships

The Manufacturing the Future Theme is looking to establish a number of Fellowships for the Future of Manufacturing that will act as a response to the Manufacturing Foresight report. They will focus on manufacturing research opportunities around the key technologies that are expected to facilitate change in how products are designed, made, offered and ultimately used by consumers.

Fellows are expected to undertake research, act as leaders for the UK manufacturing research community in their area and inform the research agenda around the challenges highlighted in the report and are encouraged to build international research collaborations and to engage with stakeholders.

Closing date: 4pm on 9th December 2014

The Expression of Interest Form and further information can be found here. Please contact your RFPM at an early stage if you intend to apply.



Assistive, Adaptive, Rehabilitative Technologies Sandpit

Eye_orbit_anatomy_anterior2 by Patrick J. Lynch CC BY 2.5EPSRC has recently announced a call for participants for its Assistive, Adaptive and Rehabilitative Technologies Sandpit, scheduled to take place 1st – 5th September 2014:

“The EPSRC is running a sandpit in the broad area of assistive and rehabilitative devices in order to try to engender a radical change in the research undertaken in this field in the UK.

The sandpit will be focussed on key research challenges within the sphere of intelligent and intentional assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative technologies. The challenges in this field are likely to need highly multidisciplinary solutions, hence we are offering researchers from a wide range of disciplines the opportunity to come together to innovate scientific and technological solutions to identifiable user needs.”

It is expected that up to £5M of EPSRC funding will be made available to fund projects arising from this sandpit. The deadline for the call to attend the sandpit is noon on the 5th June 2014 and the application is submitted online via the EPSRC website, rather than via Je-S: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/calls/2014/Pages/rehabilitativesandpit.aspx

Key challenges participants may be interested in could include (but are not restricted to):

  • New robotic components and solutions for prosthetics and rehabilitative devices (including sensory devices);
  • Bio-mechatronics;
  • New user-device interfacing and integration approaches;
  • Automatic identification of user intention;
  • ‘Learning’ and self-optimising devices;
  • Better understanding and design of the physical fit of a device;
  • New manufacturing approaches for personalised device;
  • Sustainability in terms of both manufacturing and device power and efficiency;
  • Use of new materials for assistive or rehabilitative devices;
  • Integration of evidence of device efficacy into design.

Participants will also be encouraged to consider how their proposed solutions fit into the clinical context “including the measurement and achievement of improved treatment, the importance of acceptability and user perceptions of technology, consideration of the affordability or cost-effectiveness of an innovation, and the extent to which personalisation or user-centred design can improve the efficacy of a device and the level of patient compliance.”

All interested applicants are encouraged to make early contact with their Research Funding and Policy Manager and Research and Innovation Lead to discuss their proposal.


EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research

Catalysis research at Argonne by Argonne National Laboratory CC BY-NC-SA 2.0EPSRC is looking to refresh the membership of its Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research.

They are looking for new members of the forum to form professional networks with other manufacturing researchers around the country and contribute to their Manufacturing the Future strategic challenge. Forum activities will include:

  • Networking and idea-sharing with all other Early Career Forum members.
  • Discussions, networking and mentoring opportunities with senior academics and industrialists from the Manufacturing the Future challenge theme and beyond.
  • Insight and mentoring into EPSRC processes and procedures, including various EPSRC grant awards and the associated peer review processes.
  • Involvement in the organisation and direction of the EPSRC Manufacturing the Future conference.
  • Potentially targeted feasibility or seed-corn funding for innovative, inter-disciplinary manufacturing research proposals.
  • Developing working relationships with EPSRC and TSB staff, and staff of major research awards such as the EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing.

To apply you need to complete an expression of interest form available on the webpage linked above, attaching a CV and statement of support as per the guidance document. The deadline is 1st May 2014.

For the purposes of this call EPSRC define “early career” as within 15 years of completion of your doctoral degree and both permanent staff and fellows are eligible to apply.

EPSRC are keen to cover the full range of the Manufacturing the Future remit, so disciplines which would not traditionally fit into the “manufacturing” fold, such as physics, chemistry, computer science and maths, are encouraged where their research could bear on topics in the Manufacturing the Future portfolio.

Although this is not a funding opportunity per se, it is highly significant in terms of expanding your networks and will likely give rise to “ring-fenced” funding opportunities over the next year or so (see for example this one only open to Early Career Forum in Manufacturing members last year).

If you are interested in applying, please contact us at an early stage.


Manufacturing with Light – New EPSRC Call for Proposals

Laser experiments by Geoff Traugott CC BY-NC-ND 2.0EPSRC last week announced its latest call for proposals – “Manufacturing with Light”. The deadline for applications is 24th July, but see comments below in the application process section.

About the concept

The call aims to “encourage adventurous research ideas to explore how to generate, collect, manipulate, control and transmit light to transform and shape our future manufacturing industry.” The EPSRC seeks to encourage proposals which have the potential to revolutionise production processes or to develop new and profound technological applications. Interdisciplinary approaches are expected to bring together research communities in physics, materials, engineering and manufacturing.

The concept of using light in manufacturing initially arose during EPSRC’s 2011 retreat on “Frontier Manufacturing”, and interested applicants are advised to familiarise themselves with the discussion in the report from that event.

About the call

The call seeks to fund relatively short-term research development projects, not exceeding £300K and 18 months in duration. Importantly, EPSRC say that they “will review the Manufacturing with Light portfolio after approximately 12 months from the start of the grants in order to explore the opportunity to provide further funding to extend the research in progress and enhance the impact of the initiative.”

EPSRC is making £3M available for this call suggesting they’ll fund around 10-15 proposals, depending on size.

About the application process

One of the interesting things about this call is the slightly unusual application process which will take place in two stages.

The first stage is labelled a “concept audition” and is essentially a two-minute pitch of your idea to a panel, without the aid of Powerpoint or visual aid tools, followed by 10 minutes of questions. For those ideas which make it past this stage, applicants will be invited to submit a short Je-S proposal and to attend a further interview panel to determine recommendations for funding.

There are three dates for the concept audition:

Tuesday, 30th July – Heriot-Watt University

Thursday, 1st August – University of Nottingham

Wednesday, 7th August – University of Southampton

In order to attend one of these, applicants must register their intention to participate by sending a one-page form outlining their idea in no more than 30 words to ManufacturingWithLight@epsrc.ac.uk by 24th July. However, the guidance states that places are limited and if demand exceeds supply they may be allocated on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Therefore potential applicants are advised to submit their intention to participate before the deadline. Please consult the EPSRC call page for a copy of the intention to participate form.

Anyone interested in applying is advised to contact their Research Funding & Policy Manager in RBS at an early stage.


Research Councils and TSB collaborate to inspire design freedom in 3D printing

3D Printing, or to give it its slightly less memorable moniker “additive manufacturing”, has been hailed as a revolutionary and game-changing tool for design and manufacturing. Although it is already well established, market uptake has been slow. The UK’s Technology Strategy Board is now collaborating with AHRC, EPSRC, and ESRC to fund business-led industrial research projects to address this, overcoming barriers such as high cost, inconsistent material properties, lack of applicable industry standards, unexpected pre-and post-processing requirements and the failure to exploit the new design freedoms offered. The call officially opened on 3rd December and registration deadline for interested applicants is the 23rd January 2013. There is an information day in London next week on December 11th which is still open for registrations.

What are they looking for?

There are three project types:

Project Type Duration Cost Led By
Small up to 2 years £100K – £400K Small companies only
Medium up to 3 years £200K – £1M Small or medium companies
Large up to 3 years £500K – £1.5M Must include partners from 3 or more sectors, led by a company

Within this framework, TSB wants to see projects at a relatively high Technology Readiness Level (4-7) in one of the six following topic areas:

  • Design freedoms
  • Application development and demonstrators
  • Pre- and post-processing
  • End-to-end system integration
  • Supply and distribution chains
  • Business model development and demonstration
For academic partners within consortia, TSB in partnership with the research councils, has identified three priority areas where academic research could be undertaken as part of the innovation project:
  1. End-to-end manufacturing cycle rehearsal (digital simulation/validation, design to delivery).
  2. Economic and social enablers for sustainable supply chain and business model development.
  3. Mobilising design freedoms and intellectual property frameworks for successful business transformation.

What are the Research Council priorities?

The EPSRC is supporting this competition with up to £1m for research grants and wishes to encourage the participation of research groups which have secured significant prior EPSRC support for additive manufacturing research. It will consider funding project work packages focused on research done by universities, where it aligns with EPSRC priorities as set out in their strategy Manufacturing the Future (www.epsrc.ac.uk) and is in scope of this competition. Applicants invited to apply for Stage 2 of this competition will identify work packages at that stage.

Similarly, the AHRC is looking to invest up to £500k in research work packages aligned with its Digital Transformations theme and Design strategic priority area (www. ahrc.ac.uk).

Likewise, the ESRC is looking to support with up to £500k for research work packages aligned with its Economic Performance and Sustainable Growth theme (www.esrc.ac.uk).