Microbial attack on surfaces costs the UK billions of pounds each year in product contamination, energy losses, medical infections and equipment damage. And the problem can be made worse as a result of widespread use of existing antibacterial products, which can contributed to the build up of microbial resistance.
To address this, the Open Innovation Hub for Antimicrobial Surfaces was established earlier this year to design and develop a new generation of intelligent surfaces and materials capable of inhibiting the spread of infections.
The Hub, which is based at the University of Liverpool, has its roots in the N8 Industry Innovation Forum (N8 IIF) and is working with multinationals, SMEs and the NHS to study the behaviour of bacteria and how disruptive innovation can be applied to prevent microbes from growing on surfaces.
The N8 IIF event in February 2012 focussed on Advanced Materials and helped to create a number of new multi-partner collaborations and ideas for research, including what was to eventually become the Open Innovation Hub for Antimicrobial Surfaces. Initial seed funding was made available, and from this, partners were then able to progress proposals further in a number of specific research areas, including support from the Technology Strategy Board to carry out research into areas ranging from wound dressings to marine coatings.
To date, the entire project has secured almost £6million of funding, and five brand new industrial innovation and supply chains set up as a result of the new partnerships and networks the Hub has helped to foster. In addition, since the Hub was established, 14 staff have been appointed, including six Post-doctoral Fellows and four PhD students.
Professor Rasmita Raval, Director of the Open Innovation Hub for Antimicrobial Surfaces, said:
“The N8 Innovation Forum and initial seed funding was instrumental in enabling this project to be conceived and delivered. The launch of a dedicated laboratory to house the Open Innovation Hub, with a critical mass of researchers and highly active industrial partnerships has created a strong foundation for us to deliver world-leading excellence and innovation over the coming years.”
Colin Reid, N8 IIF Director, said:
“The area of Advanced Materials presents a huge opportunity across a range of sectors in the UK including chemicals, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, shipping and aerospace.
“The founding principle of the N8 Industry Innovation Forum was to match demand from business in challenge areas with the world-leading capability of the N8 universities, to enable cross sector knowledge exchange, innovation and growth. The Open Innovation Hub is a brilliant example of how bringing new partners together can lead to new conversations which then spark disruptive technologies in areas where the UK can have a global impact.”
Read the full case study here.