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Photonics Hub For The UK

EPSRC to invest £20 million in future manufacturing

A research hub focusing on Future High Value Photonics Manufacturing has been announced by UK Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson.

Based at the University of Southampton, the photonics centre is one of two manufacturing research hubs funded for the next seven years by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) with £20 million investment. The second hub is for Future Liquid Metal Engineering at Brunel University.

The funding will be enhanced by £14 million from the universities and a further £58 million from industry.

The aim is to address major, long-term challenges facing the UK's manufacturing industries, and capture opportunities from emerging research. The hubs will feature high quality, multidisciplinary research, that has strong engagement with manufacturing industries. 

Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson said: "From cars to smartphones our world-leading research drives innovation and growth in the UK's manufacturing industries. With this £92 million investment, these new manufacturing hubs will develop the next generation of high tech products in communications and healthcare, as well as tackle industry challenges such as rising materials costs."

Philip Nelson, EPSRC's chief executive, said: "These two new manufacturing Hubs will help manufacturing industries respond to the opportunities and drivers in the sector. They also build upon EPSRC's previous investment successes of Innovative Manufacturing Research Centres and EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing, and we have recently announced a call for proposals for further Hubs. We are confident universities and industry collaborators will embrace this new opportunity to invest in the future of UK manufacturing through research."

The EPSRC National Hub in High Value Photonic Manufacturing will be led by Sir David Payne at the University of Southampton. The aim is for it to underpin growth of the UK's £10 billion photonics industry and support the £600 billion of UK manufacturing output that depends on photonics. It will do this by being the go-to place for the UK photonics industry who are interested in: improving existing manufacturing processes for production of photonics components; the supply of prototype components and sub-systems to their designs; a one-stop-shop for trialling user ideas and developing new manufacturing processes

In addition to this user pull, the hub will push out new processes that enable hitherto difficult or expensive device/component ideas resulting from EPSRC investments in advanced photonics research.

The  hope is that this will lead to creation of manufacturing processes that will enable rapid commercialisation of emerging photonics technologies, resulting in  new products and services and new UK manufacturing jobs, directly in the photonics industry and beyond. 37 companies have so far promised a total of £12.5 million support across the UK, including many SMEs, throughout the value chain in markets that include security, communications, space, semiconductor manufacturing and healthcare.

The hub will also have a critical role in defence and security where sovereign capability in photonics manufacturing is of vital importance to the nation.


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