A combined total of at least €250M in co-funded grants is available to UK organisations wishing to submit collaborative R & D proposals in the next twelve months directly relevant to the micro and nanotechnology research sector. This money is a combination of European Commission, UK Technology Strategy Board and the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. The opportunities cover a wide range of activities from basic research through to full industrial implementation and also activities to cover risk and engagement elements.
Choosing the right call is critical for UK organisations to expand their ambitions over the next 2-5 years. Support for in preparing calls is crucial as the schemes are governed by different funding mechanisms. The UK national, regional and devolved administrations offer support through the UK NanoKTN as well as the official National Contact Point Service (NCP) and the European Enterprise Networks (EEN’s).
In the UK, the Technology Strategy Board has launched its latest Autumn 2008 Collaborative Research Call, a £72M investment into innovative research and development projects in eight key areas including High Value Manufacturing, Photonics, Energy Generation and Supply, and Network Security. The competitions will be split into three phases and the first three competitions (Photonics, Advanced Materials and Intelligent Transport Systems and Services) opened on November 17th 2008.
The second phase opens on January 19th and covers High Value Manufacturing, Energy Generation and Supply, Photonics and Low Impact Buildings, and the third and final phase opens on March 16th and covers Creative Industries, Energy Generation and Supply and Network Security.
Nanotechnologies offer the next generation of solutions to existing engineering problems through the development of new materials, new manufacturing processes and measurement techniques. These can be either explicitly researched or embedded into wider project initiatives.
“By offering this funding the TSB hopes to stimulate innovation and encourage businesses and research institutions in different countries and territories to work together and develop successful new products and services.” explains Peter Dirken, KTN Programme Manager at the Technology Strategy Board. “The UK has a huge base of academics and expertise that if brought together have the potential to create a huge growth in business for the nano and micro-technology markets. We are confident that these competitions will generate exciting proposals for new research and development projects and we look forward to seeing what they bring.”
The European Commission is running the 3rd FP7 NMP (Nanoscience, Nanotechnology, Materials and Production) Theme Call within the cooperation programme. The NMP Theme has delegated a budget of £3.5bn over 7 years and approximately €250m of this budget is now available in this third Call which opened in November. The theme covers the development and application of enabling nanotechnologies to many sectors. The call is divided into research topics including micro and manufacturing, sensor development and outreach and networking. There are also research topics for sensing projects which include Russian partners.
“Through funding and grants like NMP, we aim to improve industry competitiveness by developing, integrating and implementing high value-added technologies and processes,” explains Dr Alistair McGibbon from the FP7UK NMP. “In 2007, 50 UK SMEs were successful in receiving funding and we expect there to be many more in 2009.”
The NanoKTN is dedicated to helping its members understand how to write a successful proposal and identify suitable partnerships for collaborative work. By offering continuing support to its members, the NanoKTN hopes to be able to assist them in developing strategies, writing proposals and understanding what general funding areas and themes are relevant.
FP7UK offers a National Contact Point service, supported by the NanoKTN, to help those applying for funding make sense of the procedures and to link them with powerful networks of specialists across Europe.
“The purpose of the competitions is to stimulate innovation. By encouraging businesses to work with academic and research institutions on new research and development, we hope to be able to develop successful new products and services,” says Dr Alec Reader, Director of the NanoKTN.
“The NanoKTN is committed to assisting its members and at a time when Venture Capital (VC) funding is at an all time low, these funding programmes are of vital importance if we are going to continue seeing the nanotechnology and microtechnology markets grow.”
It was reported in 2008, that Europe’s VC industry recorded 167 deals in the second quarter, the lowest quarterly total for nine years. The €858M that was invested was a drop of 35% on the previous year and the UK alone saw VC investment fall 49%.
The EPSRC is also offering funding via its Nanoscience through Engineering Application programme, designed to enable the UK to make an international impact in the developing field. A budget of £19M has been set aside for research and £30M has been set aside for training. By offering this funding, the EPSRC hopes to develop nanotechnology research in areas that can make a significant difference such as healthcare and energy.
“Nanotechnology that is responsibly developed and meets society’s needs in areas like medicine and sustainable energy are of critical importance to everyone in the supply chain,” says Head of Programme at EPSRC, John Wand. “We are excited about the funding opportunities and hope that the money which has become available will ensure the UK is kept at the forefront of the global competition, to develop new applications in nanotechnology.”
Established by the Technology Strategy Board, the NanoKTN is managed by Centre for Process Innovation Ltd, a leading technology development and consulting company.
The NanoKTN facilitates the transfer of knowledge and experience between industry and research, offering companies dealing in small-scale technology access to information on new processes, patents and funding as well as keeping up-to-date with industry regulation. The four broad areas that the NanoKTN focuses on are: Promoting and facilitating knowledge exchange, supporting the growth of UK capabilities, raising awareness of Nanotechnology, and providing thought leadership and input to UK policy and strategy.
About Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs):
Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs) are national networks in specific fields of technology or business application, which bring together people from businesses, universities, research, finance, the public sector and technology organisations to stimulate innovation through knowledge exchange.
Funded by the Technology Strategy Board, their activities play an increasingly important role in the development of the Government's technology strategy, and help to feed and drive the Collaborative Research & Development Programme and other innovation interventions. There are currently 24 KTNs with a total membership of about 25,000 people.
For further information please see www.ktnetworks.co.uk
Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18