A project to map the research equipment across universities in the North could point the way to greater collaboration between universities and improved research links with industry.
The report ‘Sharing for Excellence and Growth’ by the N8 group of research-intensive universities, has identified opportunities for sharing the unique research equipment housed in each institution and wider benefits arising from this including: better training and recruitment of world class research talent, new and novel research ideas, and the development of leading-edge equipment through strategic relationships with technology manufacturers and suppliers.
The N8 project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is the first attempt to look at asset sharing amongst the N8 universities and is to be launched at an event on Wednesday 20th June 2012, attended by key government officials and leaders from industry.
Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, chairs the N8 group. He said: “Access to cutting-edge technology and infrastructure is vital to maintaining the position of the UK’s leading science base and crucial to underpinning the UK’s competitiveness and economic recovery.
“The N8 report – “Sharing for Excellence and Growth” has identified ways that we can achieve this by working together as research intensive universities, and with industries, to give our leading research talent access to the best research equipment.”
Professor Luke Georghiou, Vice-President, Research & Innovation at the University of Manchester who led the project said: “The advance of science has been closely bound with the development and availability of instruments and facilities. The competitive position of the national science base in turn requires that researchers are equipped with up-to-date instruments of high quality. Such capability enables the science base to support the national goals of competitiveness, economic growth, well-being and sustainability both through its own work and in collaboration with industry.
“During the current period of severe financial constraint it is essential that the best use is made of research capital assets. This will not take away the need for continuing major investment in equipment but will help ensure that The UK stays at the cutting edge. This report describes work done by members of the N8 research partnership to develop a strategic approach to regional assets and to identify the circumstances under which sharing of equipment can provide efficiencies and catalyse opportunities for development.”
Among the assets identified in the report is the new N8 High Performance Computing Facility based at the University of Leeds and shared by all N8 universities, the Bioscience Technology Facility at the University of York and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance technology that exists across the universities.
Professor David Delpy, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council said: “This report shows how institutions can work together to share facilities and equipment, enabling the continued support of internationally excellent scientific research at a time of limited funding. It is further evidence of our research base’s ability to respond creatively to challenge and help the UK to grow from a position of strength.”
The N8 Research Partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York, which utilises the combined expertise and capabilities of these research intensive universities.