Science and industry working together

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Experts in mathematical sciences at the University of Huddersfield have been working with companies to help boost their productivity and competitiveness by developing innovative solutions to solve tricky, long running technical problems that they have been unable to tackle using standard technologies and techniques. 

Professor William Lee and Dr Ann Smith from the University’s School of Computing and Engineering have been taking part in Innovate UK’s Analysis for Innovators’ funding competition where UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £3 million to work with the country’s top scientists and world-class research facilities on small collaborative innovation projects to resolve productivity and competitiveness issues. 

Professor Lee and Dr Smith are affiliated with the Newton Gateway to Mathematics, an initiative supported by the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (INI) and the University of Cambridge. The Newton Gateway reaches out and engages with the users of mathematics – in industry, business, public sector and other scientific disciplines and is one of the partners involved in this Innovate UK programme. 

Professor Lee is the Deputy Director of the University’s Centre for Mathematics and Data Science and focuses on the applications of Mathematics and Data Science to solve problems of industrial and societal relevance.   

Dr Smith is a Knowledge Exchange Champion with the new UK Knowledge Exchange Hub for the Mathematical Sciences, a Fellow of both the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, and the Higher Education Academy and provides statistical expertise to support the University’s world-leading Centre for Efficiency and Performance Engineering’s work on condition monitoring for predictive maintenance.   

The other research facilities that are involved include the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the National Measurement Laboratory (NML) at LGC Group, the National Engineering Laboratory (NEL), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), National Gear Metrology Lab (GEARS), Henry Royce Institute and Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies (ASTUTE 2020+).

Working with businesses to solve their problems

The aim of the competition is to match the best UK scientists and cutting-edge facilities with businesses that have complex analysis or measurement problems, and the application process is rigorous and fast-paced.   

Once a business has completed Stage One, they are invited to have meetings with experts from the partners who feel they can potentially help the company solve its problem. These brokerage meetings allow the company to discuss their problem with experts who want to work with them to address the problem.  It is then the company’s decision to choose their preferred solution and which experts they will work with going forward. 

To date every industry partner’s application for funding with Professor Lee and Dr Smith on the team has been successful.

One such project has been with Friction Flow Measurement Ltd.  The company was able to utilise the expertise of the University’s Professor Lee and Dr Smith, under the Newton Gateway Innovate UK’s Analysis for Innovators partnership, on a project to solve problems the company had been experiencing with its flowmeter.  

Friction Flow Measurement Ltd

“The team from Newton Gateway and the University of Huddersfield,” said Friction Flow Measurement’s director Craig Marshall, “understood my problem quickly and used their extensive mathematical experience to refine and improve on the algorithms used within my flowmeter to make it run faster and more efficiently during operation. 

“I’m very happy with the results and look forward to partnering with them again in future projects,” he added. 

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is part of UK Research and Innovation and drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, connecting them to the partners, customers and investors that can help turn their ideas into commercially successful products, services and business growth.  


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