Future of advanced materials showcased at Materials Research Exchange 2022

Posted on: 13/10/2022

Materials Research Exchange, the UK’s flagship materials event, showcasing the future of advanced materials, saw 650 delegates, 163 speakers and 73 exhibitors come together at the Business Design Centre in London on the 3-5th of October 2022, for the first time in over two years.

Materials Research Exchange Day 1

Chairing the plenary session on Tuesday, Innovate UK KTN Interim CEO Dr Kirsty Hewitson spoke about building on the UK’s great technological advances by sharing knowledge and expertise, providing access to skills and infrastructure, and the importance of bringing together academia, industry and investors.

"We must all play our part in creating the kind of environment that is required not only to foster research and innovation, but to incentivise our communities to capture value and to create impact and benefit for the UK."

Dr Kirsty Hewitson, Interim CEO, Innovate UK KTN

Mike Biddle, Executive Director for Net Zero at Innovate UK, said the UK has an enormous opportunity to prosper from “being the fastest transitioning economy to Net Zero”. He outlined how Innovate UK planned to address five areas using materials science: Heat, Make and Use, Mobility, Power, and Agriculture and Food.

Mr Biddle also announced a new £19.5m Innovate UK award – Economic Material Innovation for Sustainable and Efficient use of Resources (ECONOMISER). The award is to support innovations in carbon reduction, process improvement and product development across foundation industries.

Professor Dame Helen Atkinson, Pro Vice Chancellor at Cranfield University, gave an invigorating keynote speech charting some excellent research projects from UK universities, from a project by Loughborough University to use coatings on turbine blades for radar detection, to a project by Liverpool University in the form of AI-driven mobile robotic researchers that can work independently in a chemistry lab for extended periods.

Dr Su Varma, Academic Director at NSG, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of glass, gave an industry perspective. He said the industry needs stronger links to academia and greater visibility of technology needs and new product concepts. He called for more digitally skilled scientists and engineers to improve resource efficiency. He recognised the great support of the Catapult Network but said larger scale-up pilot facilities were needed for specific processes such as coatings.

Delegates also heard from two case studies: Clara Martiny from Saint Gobain presented on the role of corporate investors in commercialising materials, and Jason Teng from Potter Clarkson spoke about the benefits of IP protection.

Amongst the 73 exhibitors was the Henry Royce Institute, who showcased a range of additively manufactured metal components. Dr Kathy Christofidou, Materials Discovery and Prototyping Technology Lead, said: “It’s been fantastic to talk to all sorts of different companies and see the research across all the universities in the UK.”

Dr Claire Dancer from the University of Warwick said: “It’s been wonderful. I thought the plenary was great to showcase the breadth of materials projects across the UK and it’s been fantastic meeting friends, old and new.”

Materials Research Exchange Day 2

On the Wednesday of the conference, participants continued to get involved with a variety of interesting activities including:

  • Participating in the Investor Showcase, where there were 23 exciting companies across sectors including metamaterials, space, graphene, bio-based materials, and materials for net zero presented the pipeline of innovation throughout the UK to key Materials sector investors.
  • Hearing from Innovate UK about reimagining materials and manufacturing together and support for resource efficiency across these sectors, the importance of critical materials for applications such as in magnets as well as batteries, the importance of circularity, and the role of materials in achieving net zero goals.
  • Attending a series of seminars covering novel and sustainable material development, materials innovations for defence, space, power electronics, machines and drives, the hydrogen economy, and the need to pull together across the supply chain and with OEMs to drastically reduce both territorial and imported carbon.
  • Nine prizes were awarded to the winners of the MRE 2022 poster competition in a prize-giving ceremony.
  • The Transforming Foundation Industries (TFI) challenge presented a prize to the winner of the TFI Hackathon challenge that took place over MRE 2022. The winning team presented a variety of ideas for sustainable materials selection and design concepts, rapid construction processes, and energy-efficient materials for the repurposing of existing stock of large disused retail buildings for social housing and community use.

Contact the Innovate UK KTN Materials Team

To find out more about the latest materials events and funding opportunities, make sure to contact the Materials team.

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Robert Quarshie

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