Manufacturing The Future Conference 2015 interviews

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16 interviews from the Manufacturing The Future Conference 2015

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I’m Alistair Florence.  I’m the Director for the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing and Continuous Manufacturing Crystallisation (CMAC) at the University of Strathclyde. 

Continuous manufacturing gives us an opportunity to improve the way that we manufacture medicines and other high value chemical products.  It allows us to exert a greater degree of control over the quality and attributes of the materials that we’re producing compared with traditional technologies, batch manufacturing approaches.  So while continuous is well established in some industries, commodity chemicals, oil and gas, the ability to deal with the smaller volumes that may be required in pharmaceuticals, presents a number of challenges and so the work within the centre is around understanding how we can synthesize molecules, particularly how we can then isolate and purify them as crystals, but control the properties of those crystals so that we can streamline the overall final manufacture of the dosage form, using subsequent continuous operations.

Molecules don’t know what their intended application is.  Whilst the majority of our sponsors are in the pharmaceutical industry, we have also done work with other chemical manufacturers - agrochemicals, dyes and pigments and magnetic materials.  So we have done a project, again a proprietary project with one company, but in understanding and developing the process, understanding in order to design a continuous process, they were able to take that better understanding of the process and use that to improve their commercial batch operation.  One of the things that CMAC offers, is that centre of excellence, the critical mass of academic expertise around analysis modelling, control and characterisation measurement of crystallisation processes, so there is a broad range of potential applications.

CMAC has seen phenomenal growth.  We started off on the back of a £6 million grant from EPSRC to establish a centre for innovative manufacturing.  In the last four years it has essentially attracted the portfolio of over £80 million of funding.  The real highlights are the research outputs, the new understanding crystallisation, the talent pipeline, the human capital, the skilled researchers, the future leaders in this area, they are already going out and working across industry and academia and of course the new facility that we are moving into, thanks to a £34 million RPIF award, that creates a real national facility for people, part of CMAC, other academics, industry to come and work on these common challenges together and accelerating progress as we move forward.

Manufacturing the Future - Professor David Payne

I’m Sir David Payne, Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton.

Photonics is an enabling technology. It navigates airlines, it actually assembles airlines, it cuts the metal, and it manufactures your iPhone. As well as that, it’s even found on the moon, on the space station, and on Mars. So it’s an underlying technology. Perhaps the best known application is that it powers the entire internet. Millions of kilometres, across the world. Every time you use your phone, the underpinning technology under the ground is this vast network of fibres keeping the communications of the world working.

It’s an enormously important industry, worth about £10 billion in the UK and employing something like 70,000 people.

Because of the broad nature of photonics, we’ve worked with an extraordinary range of companies that go all of the way from people that are nothing to do with photonics but just want fibres, to people at the other end who are making ultra-high-power lasers for cutting and welding.

So the work that we’ve done with SPI Lasers, which is a start-up from Southampton, also with Fianium to develop new fibres which are better and which give them an edge in the market place because they are more efficient, more effective, they’re more reliable and that’s what we’re showing here - some of those fibres that are making a difference.

I would like to add one thing, which is that working with industry is only part of the purpose of an EPSRC Centre in Manufacturing. The other part of it is about developing the next technology that industry doesn’t yet know it needs and that’s particularly our role.

What we have on demonstration here is some of the very latest films of graphene, lithium disulfide and boron nitrite. Which we have learned that we can now make in huge sizes, not just the little tiny chips that originally people were making. So there’s some examples of what we’re doing for industry.

One of the things that we’re supposed to be doing is making things faster, better, cheaper. Or finding out how to make things that are coming out of university labs, which makes them useful in industry.

So the breakthrough that we’ve just made is we came up with an idea that you could make an optical fibre with a hole in the middle, so that it became much lower loss because the light travels in air instead of glass. The problem was, nobody knew how to make this and we’ve worked for nearly five years until we made the breakthrough.  We reported that just a month ago, that we could make vast long lengths of this new fibre and it’s gone viral worldwide. People are suddenly saying “Wow, they really can make it those crazy Brits.”

Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 - Interview with Professor Richard Hague

My name’s Professor Richard Hague.  I’m the Director for the EPSRC Centre for Additive Manufacturing at the University of Nottingham.

My area of research is important because it’s going to be a key underpinning technology for all manufacturing in the future. So additive manufacturing is a key technology that’s been highlighted by our government and multiple governments around the world as one of the key enabling technologies of future manufacturing.

In our particular centre, we’re working on multi-functional additive manufacturing. We’ve been working at this for the past four years and we’re making excellent progress. What we’re now able to do is the co-deposition of dissimilar materials. In one billed operation, we have some scale up activities to allow that to happen and we have some super-interesting two-photo orthography work where we’re making functionalised structures at the nano-scale.  We also have some really exciting technology looking at the deposition of hot melt metals in a selective manner, so it’s ink-jetting of metals.

So additive manufacturing is a multi-sectoral technology that is almost a general-purpose approach that will benefit every sector from aero, auto, pharma, consumer, medical to many others.

Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 - interview with Professor Mike Jackson

My names is Professor Mike Jackson, I’m Professor of Machine Systems at Loughborough University.  I’m a Director of an EPSRC Centre in Intelligent Automation.

Intelligent Automation as we define it is actually a blend of skilled human worker and robots working together cooperatively, in that way the human worker gets more output and hopefully productivity will increase, exports will increase and as a consequence we will have a stronger economy. 

The highlights are numerous, but a couple that really stand out are the way that the EPSRC Centre works with high value manufacturing catapults, namely in this case, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, and the way the engineers and researchers work together as a common team.  They also work together with industry engineers that are embedded from companies like Rolls-Royce and they work together as a truly integrated project team.

Currently we have created an automated welding system which actually can cope with variation in product fit up, in the same way as the skilled human worker could.  So that’s actually taking a lot of stress now to the job. Freeing up the worker to actually concentrate on the more difficult welding applications and makes the whole job more productive.

The main reason for doing all this is to increase productivity, improve competitiveness, allow the UK companies to export more, to bring production back to the UK, also called on shoring or bring back, and that way there will be less manufacturing taking place overseas and more of it back in the UK. But the jobs that are actually created are high tech jobs and part of the rationale for all this is to retrain some of the skilled works so that it can actually work cooperatively with these new generation of robots ,which have yet to be created, and these will be co-workers who are not as intelligent as a human being, not as capable, but actually capable of working and assisting human beings so that the productivity levels increase.

I’m Jane Jiang, Professor in Precision Metrology and Director of the EPSRC Centre for Advanced Metrology.

Advanced Metrology is very important because it can dramatically reduce the cost in manufacturing. For example, we can slow the calibration and the composition which reduces a large amount of down time in manufacturing. For example, for Rolls-Royce we can calibrate and composite the machine from several days to half a shift.

From our fundamental research we have created the results today - already patented and licenced, we’ll be announcing a new product this year. So we’re really proud of that. For this reason we had the IET 2014 Innovation Awards for Manufacturing Technology.

We’re also building the foundation to establish the NPL North Hub, where we are creating the Metrology facility to work with a range of industries and establish a national leadership in Advanced Metrology. To help the catapults and the large company supply chains.

My name is Steve Evans, I’m the Director of Research and Head of the Centre for Industrial Sustainability sponsored by EPSRC.

In the long-term, industrial sustainability is the ability to supply the goods, and the services that rely on those goods, to everybody on the planet within the limits that the planet provides.  In the short-term, we in the UK have to learn how to do this in order to be able to deliver value using less energy, less water and less materials.

One of the interesting start-up examples is Riversimple. We’ve been working with them on their system of industrial design, so they are looking at their whole value chain. They are looking at how their product relates to how they deliver value to their customers and their value chain. As a start-up, they’ve received more than £10 million in venture funding, supported in part by many of the ideas that we're bringing into their business plans.

On the larger scale, we’ll all recognise Marks & Spencer. It’s interesting: why are we working with a retailer? Retailers move products, they bring products right in front of customers and what we’re trying to do with Marks & Spencer is investigate new ways of putting products in front of customers so, that all of the material that goes into those products comes back into Marks & Spencer and is used effectively. In our project with Marks & Spencer, our ambition is to retain 50 per cent of the value of the material that otherwise would escape the system forever and somehow end up in landfill.

I’m incredibly excited about the idea that UK manufacturing can learn how to be efficient and resilient. If we can save $5 billion in input energy cost, water cost and material cost, that’s $5 billion on the bottom line of every UK manufacturer. If you can do that, you can turn off power stations, if you can do that people have to buy our products worldwide, because our products are greener than our competitors. That would be a really exciting start and would help the UK become resilient.

My name is Zhungyun Fan, I'm Director of BCAST and also the Director of the EPSRC Centre for Liquid Metal Engineering (LiME). Liquid metal engineering is a subject which is very important to the UK economy. It is related to casting and solidification of metallic materials for automotive, aerospace and other engineering sectors. What we do with liquid metal is we manipulate liquid metal chemically, physically, to create the conditions which can create much better materials which have much better performance for engineering applications.

The hyper die casting process is the 'work horse' of the automotive industry, because of the high volume and the low cost. The only problem is the property and the mechanic performance is not as good as wrought alloys. Now what we're doing with hyper die casting is we treat liquid metal using liquid metal engineering techniques and then fit it to the hyper die casting machine to produce the component, which is near an 'S' shape with very little processing and you can directly apply it to cars and with much lower cost.

The automotive OEMs UK, they source their casting components from the UK or overseas and if liquid metal engineering technologies can be developed in full, which can develop new companies based in the UK, OEMs in the UK can then source their components from the UK. This is where the UK economy grows in a great way.

Research at BCAST, in combination with the EPSRC Centre LiME, carries a wide range of activities from very fundamental research from atomic level activities, to make structure control and developing technologies and industrial applications.

In the last 12 months, we've had a number of highlights. One highlight is our theoretical research, the new creative framework, has become nearly mature and we have been consolidating that. The second one is, we have been developing our capability to address the full economic value of fundamental research and scaling up technologies from universally proven sources. We have been successful with a HEFCE grant, an EPSRC grant, which allow us to build two buildings: the Advanced Metal Casting Centre and the Advanced Metal Processing Centre. These two buildings are going to host large scale processing facilities. They will be the country's unique asset for scaling up technologies for the liquid metal engineering area.

We were very excited to be grated the Future Manufacturing Hub, the Future LiME Hub, and with £10 million funding from EPSRC for fundamental research.

My name is Nick Medcalf.  I’m Professor of Regenerative Medicine Manufacture at Loughborough University.  I’m there under an EPSRC Manufacturing Fellowship, having come in from industry after more than 30 years in the business sector. My job is two-fold, one is to manage the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine and the other is to conduct a portfolio of research as an industrial fellow.

Regenerative medicine is a group of treatments which have one thing in common - they tend to be biological therapies that restore function or replace missing organs or tissue, rather than simply acting in a palliative way to manage a condition in the way that we’re familiar with: for example on-going drug treatment or something like that. They tend to be treatments that are based on cells, tissue or gene therapies and they are, as a group, products that tend to restore patients to a condition that existed before the injury or disease took some function away.

The way that we work with the research is systems-based. These products are quite advanced and very few of them can be made and put on a shelf for months in the way that we’re familiar with, with, for example medical devices or most conventional drugs. In some cases, manufacturing is difficult to define where it begins and ends. Rather than a central factory, it might be appropriate to make the goods close to the patient’s bedside. Or, in some cases, involving the patient’s own metabolism as part of the work.

And so, alongside the fundamental research on how to make the goods, there are key issues about how to maintain quality when, for example, the therapy might be specific to individual patients. Alongside that as well, there’s a related issue, which is how to manage supply chains when the goods are exquisitely sensitive to changes in conditions and might be spoiled if they’re left too long in transit or subjected to temperature fluctuations.

So all these things that would traditionally be part of supply chain research, are now an integral part of the research into the manufacturing path.

My name’s Professor Richard Hague.  I’m the Director for the EPSRC Centre for Additive Manufacturing at the University of Nottingham.

My area of research is important because it’s going to be a key underpinning technology for all manufacturing in the future. So additive manufacturing is a key technology that’s been highlighted by our government and multiple governments around the world as one of the key enabling technologies of future manufacturing.

In our particular centre, we’re working on multi-functional additive manufacturing. We’ve been working at this for the past four years and we’re making excellent progress. What we’re now able to do is the co-deposition of dissimilar materials. In one billed operation, we have some scale up activities to allow that to happen and we have some super-interesting two-photo orthography work where we’re making functionalised structures at the nano-scale.  We also have some really exciting technology looking at the deposition of hot melt metals in a selective manner, so it’s ink-jetting of metals.

So additive manufacturing is a multi-sectoral technology that is almost a general-purpose approach that will benefit every sector from aero, auto, pharma, consumer, medical to many others.

My name is John Fisher.  I’m the Director of the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices which is hosted at the University of Leeds.

Medical devices cover a whole range of medical technologies from imaging diagnostics, to implants and materials that go in the body.  Medical devices as far as our Centre is concerned in primarily addressing the research needs of implants and bio materials for muscular lethal disease in the body. 

Increasingly, when we are delivering interventions to patients, we need to deliver them with high levels of precision and to deliver more effective treatments and what we are doing in the Centre is dealing with stratification and individualisation.  We are doing it by developing new methods for manufacture, for new patient manufacturing of devices, and we are developing new methods for predicting function on which we can then base our precision and stratification of delivery.

One example is that we have developed new simulation models to predict the function of artificial hip joints in patients and using those simulation systems we’re able to introduce them into the design cycle with our partner, DePuy Johnson & Johnson, as part of a new product development program.

They will in the future be able to design hip prosthesis so they must closely match the needs of the population. By doing work that stratifies the population into certain subgroups, we can analyse the needs of those subgroups and then design segmented product ranges that meet the needs.  That makes a much more efficient and cost effective product range to deliver to the wider population.

My name is Professor Duncan Hand. I work at Heriot-Watt University and I'm also Director for the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing and Laser-Based Production Processes.

A laser is really what I would call a key enabling technology in a lot of manufacturing processes. Essentially it can provide energy remotely. You can focus that energy down, and you can move it around very quickly, so it's a very flexible form of energy. You can also really easily reconfigure the process, you basically do a change in software rather than a change in hardware to make a different part, or to do a slight change on a part.

We're working on a process where we can directly make a hologram onto the surface of a metal, essentially by very controllably melting the surface of that metal using a laser. This really replaces, what you'll have seen, things with stick on holograms on them, and these are commonly used to verify that the thing that you're buying is really made by whatever company has manufactured it.

There's a lot of interest in applications for anti-counterfeiting in the jewellery industry, also the aerospace industry, for verification and the identification of parts.

One of the really exciting things we've been doing in our micro-processing area is actually looking at a process where we're joining very dissimilar materials, basically welding glass and metal together, welding an optical material to a structural material. That's actually really important in a lot of optical applications in manufacturing of lasers or other complex optical devices.

My name is Dr Clive Badman. I work for both GlaxoSmithKline and the University of Strathclyde. At GlaxoSmithKline I'm in charge of pre-competitive collaboration in R&D.

Continuous manufacturing is really important to the UK as a means of shortening our supply chain. At the moment a typical supply chain is anything from one to two years and that's very long and what we are looking to do through continuous manufacturing is to shorten the supply chain to, in the first instance, six months but hopefully to get a day to two months, and to improve our right first time manufacturing.

The objective of the programme is to make us more efficient in our operation, so clearly we are looking for cost savings as we move forwards and of course hopefully these are going to be passed on to the patient eventually, but the other thing that we are looking for is to be much more responsive, patient responsive, as a supply chain, and hopefully to eliminate some of the shortages that there are with drugs at the moment.

To define the process is not too difficult. Currently we are using batch manufacturing, an easy analogy to that would be cooking a pan of potatoes. You cook a batch of potatoes and if you need more you put another pan on. In continuous manufacturing then we are constantly manufacturing in a tube for a synthesis, or we are constantly dealing with granulation or tableting in the formulation process. So these are ways in which running continuously reduce all of the isolation times and the waste time in manufacturing.

If I could review a little bit of what CMAC has done and take a look forwards, I am delighted with the number of proprietary projects that seem like is being asked to do on behalf of big farmer, that shows a real interest in the output of the research, and we've moved into a phenomenal world class facility in the Technology Innovation Centre in Glasgow. If I am looking to the future, what I really would like is to create is a medicines manufacturing innovation centre, which will provide the UK with a centre where we can translate research out of universities and small companies, into an environment where the bigger companies can test it, remove the risk and then install it in their own facilities.

Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 interview with Professor Bill O’Neill

My name is Bill O’Neill.  I am Deputy Director of the Centre for Ultra Precision and I work at the University of Cambridge. 

Ultra-precision is a field of engineering which develops the level of machining and process capability, which is an order of magnitude below current manufacturing capabilities in conventional engineering and production.  It’s very important for UK engineering to be able to develop toolsets and apply manufacturing tools which enable them to create the next generation of products.  These products require an ultra-precision level of tolerance and control.

The capabilities for one of the machines - we have two three platforms on a laser focused ion beam system that allows us to machine materials down to resolutions of ten nanometres.  This allows for a new wave of biological sensors to be made.  It works at a scale which is approaching quantum technologies and it really does give you a capability which far and away exceeds that of current semiconductor capabilities.  So it’s a manufacturing toolset which allows new products at those length scales. 

We have a MISO production capability which is a compact micromachining system which is ultra-precise because it works at a micron in it, within a few centimetres, and that gives us the opportunity to have far better mechanical machining.  We have a roll to roll platform which allows us to make printed electronic components working with resolutions of one micron over a metre and that allows for us to design and develop new production capabilities for the next generation of electronic displays, biological sensors and a whole host of other technologies which are in preparation, getting ready for high volume, low value, but extremely functional capability with polymers and other materials.

In many respects we have lost the British machine tool supply chain or the supply chain necessary to allow companies to construct advanced machine tools.  Cranfield University has a very long established level of the precision engineering and Cambridge University has a very long level of application in new devices and new processes.  By establishing this research through EPSRC funding we are able to identify key suppliers within the UK, we designed the systems, we work with our supplying collaborators to allow us to produce a brand new and revolutionary state of production technology.  That strengthens the supply chain and really allows them to develop a market in conjunction with us, so the supply chain strengthening is probably one of the most important outputs of this centre. 

We have to be able to produce machines, if you produce machines you own the means of production and you can create much greater value from something that you sell.

Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 - Professor Raj Roy

My name is Professor Rajkumar Roy.  I am Director of the EPSRC Centre in Through-life Engineering Services and Director of Manufacturing at Cranfield University.

Through-life Engineering Services is very important for UK manufacturing and manufacturing in general, because we are now supporting machines we make to perform as expected over a long period of time and that service and support and the technology that supports that service that’s essential. 

Over 50 per cent of revenue from the aerospace and defence sector from companies like Rolls-Royce, comes from that service part of business and we are providing technology to make that service more efficient and bring innovation in that service.  The most important thing we have done this year, that we are in a very mature state of our research is in degradation assessment and actually automating that process to make the whole assessment of service product degradation assessment more efficient, that’s what we have done for components as well as for systems.  We have also developed research and technology which we have patented, for self-healing technologies, and that’s very important for long-term research in through-life engineering services.

Babcock International has joined very recently.  In the fourth year of the Centre, Babcock has decided to support it in a long-term basis, so we are now going to work with Babcock too.  And in terms of the future, the future is actually in the connected world.  How does through life engineering services change in a connected world.  That’s what we are interested in so we are setting up an Internet Of Things (IOT) lab where we are working on maintenance challenges, through-life engineering services challenges in a connected world including cyber security of data communication. 

The global market in 2025 should approach around one trillion pounds and that’s the market we should be tapping into.  We are only five per cent cross sector in that global market.  I believe with coordinated national approach we can increase that market share from five per cent to eight per cent, that should be our ambition in the next few years and I am very pleased to say that Rolls-Royce and high value catapult, high value manufacturing catapult, have agreed to lead a through-life engineering services national strategy development and the work has already started.

Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 – interview with Tim Foster

I’m Tim Foster, I am the Professor of Food Structure at the University of Nottingham and also the Centre Director for the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Food.

Food engineering is important to UK manufacturing because it’s the largest manufacturing industry that the UK has and food is something that we all eat and what we need to be doing is eating in a healthy way and creating foods of the future that have healthy structures will enable us to do that. 

Some of the challenges that we have got, are challenges that have been given to us by industry in pre-competitive statements that the UK industry, food industries, have come together on and agreed on.  What we are wanting to do and are doing is to meet those needs by creating new innovative solutions, through engineering, and that’s engineering of materials, products and processes and also doing it in a sustainable and resilient way to meet the needs, not only of now, but of the future generations.

One of the things that we have done is to try and unpick the manufacturing of the biscuit.  Most people enjoy eating biscuits, I’ve just had one in the coffee break, probably not that good for me if I eat too many.  So what we have said is, can we recreate the structure of a biscuit that people will still enjoy eating, but with healthier ingredients and if we can do that then what impact does that have on the manufacturing process and therefore re-engineering the biscuit manufacturing process is something that’s really exciting us.  We are doing that with biscuits, we are also starting to do it with bread and cakes and we will do it with other food products moving forward.

The Centre that we have was funded as part of the SIM call in 2012.  The direct money coming into the Centre from EPSRC is £4.3 million.  The universities, three universities that are involved Loughborough University, University of Birmingham and my university, the University of Nottingham, are giving an extra £1.1 million in terms of studentship money.  So we a have cohort of researchers of 20 PhDs and 10 post doc researchers.  They have their individual projects but those projects then get cascaded into delivering against the big grand challenges that industry has identified.

Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 – interview with Chris Rider

I’m Chris Rider, I’m Director of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Large-Area Electronics. I’m based in electrical engineering at University of Cambridge. I work with partners at the Imperial College London, Swansea University, Manchester University and colleagues at Cambridge University.

Large-Area electronics is really a new way of making electronics. It’s enabled by several new classes of materials such as; organic materials, metal oxides and carbon based materials which would include graphene, carbon nano tubes and related materials.  The benefit of these materials is that you can process them to make electronic devices at low temperatures, which means that you put the electronics down onto plastics like polyester and paper and things like that which you don’t normally find, substrates for electronics, and if you’ve got electronics down on these flexible substrates, that means you can use and deploy the electronics in totally new ways, so you can wrap them around curved objects. Not only that, you can make inks out of them which means you can think about printing them, so you’ve got approaches which can get the cost of manufacture right down, which can also take us into applications which you can’t do with conventional electronics.

A lot of companies in our sector have tended to focus on one innovation which they do really well, but there haven’t been so many who’ve been putting all the different elements together to make a system. So we decided to try and help the growth of our emerging industry, that we would focus on system integration challenge and try and do that in a way which makes it easy and high-yield. So we have two flagship projects which we’re using to drive forward the technology of system integration within our centre and I should say that system integration also includes integration of large-area electronics with conventional electronics.

One of our demonstrators is a sensor system with an array of 16 sensors and we’re going to print the amplifier right next to all the sensors, which has very significant commercial benefits in doing that and then we’ll link that with conventional silicon back end so it’ll have a microprocessor, a radio and there will be some power electronics as well. So that’s one of the demonstrators, the other one will be made using a conventional contacts printing press and we’re going to make an energy harvesting system to harvest radiofrequency energy, which can then be used to store and then power electronics.

The UK has been a pioneer in the field of large-area electronics for 25 years, we have many world class academic groups active in the field and a lot of companies have been spun out of this activity. We also have several very large material companies active on a global scale and they’re wanting to see our emergent industry grow, so that the demand for these materials will grow. A lot of the companies that are interested in manufacturing are now moving towards pilot scale and thinking about how they’re going to manufacture in volume, so one of the great things about our industry being an emergent industry is that we’re starting to see the chance of getting some electronics manufacturing in a new area back into the UK.

To find out more about our centre or about large-area electronics please visit our website which is at www.largeareaelectronics – all one word-.org. Another thing you may care to consider is coming along to our annual conference and you’ll find more information about that on the website and there you’ll get a chance to meet not only the academic community, but also the industrial community and representatives from the high volume manufacturing catapult centre.

Professor Philip Nelson - Chief Executive, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

I'm Philip Nelson and I am Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). I think it is wonderful to bring together the community in this country that works on this very important area - it is vital for our economy that we get this right, that we get our research in manufacturing really motoring and I think what we see in this event is the evidence that we are managing to do that. We started this four years ago and I very much hope we can continue. To do it all depends on our settlement in the next Spending Review, but of course we are absolutely behind the whole mission of manufacturing research. We need to really keep exploiting the expertise we have in our immensely strong science base, to make sure that we keep propelling things forward.

We've obviously got many representatives from the manufacturing industry and we pride ourselves on making those connections very strongly. We have also importantly got representatives from government too, because I think that tripartite relationship between academia, government and industry is absolutely critical to make this whole endeavour work smoothly.

It's very clearly established by economists that a massive fraction of economic growth is down to technological progress and some estimates are as high as 70 per cent. Without technological progress there is no growth, it is almost as simple as that and so investment in science, engineering, technology is absolutely critical to our future. I think that what EPSRC does is ensure that we get the balance right between the longer term investments that we are going to need in 20 years' time and the shorter term investments where we can actually have a real impact on the economy in just a few years' time - we work very hard to get that balance right.

We've got really strong evidence to show that our investments really do reap economic benefits. We have recently done a study that showed the return on our investments is almost ten to one and other economists have come up with very similar estimates. I think public spending on research in engineering and science is money really well spent. The other important factor is that it always generates private sector investment as well, so by putting public money into this area it stimulates further investment from private sector companies. Our organisation has a great track record for working with business and industry to co-invest in our universities, which are absolutely world class and really something to be built upon. We have a fantastic opportunity for the future in this country and right now, where we are trying to rebuild our economy, it is particularly important that we continue investment in science, engineering and technology.

It's well known that there is a productivity puzzle at the moment, the nation probably isn't as productive as it ought to be. Some of our sectors are doing remarkably well, aerospace and automotive for example are two classic examples of where research and development investment has been very strong and productivity is also growing really remarkably well and solidly, but there are other sectors where that is not the case and we need to make sure we start getting research development and the innovations that go with it into a larger number of our industry sectors.