Brunel University launches manufacturing research centre

Brunel University has launched its Collaborative Research Network (CRN) in Innovative Manufacturing, which is aimed at giving UK manufacturers a leading edge in the global marketplace.

According to Brunel, the CRN will provide UK industry with access to the university’s manufacturing expertise and create new opportunities for innovation in knowledge transfer, cross-disciplinary research and industrial collaboration.

Prof Kai Cheng, leader of the Innovation Manufacturing CRN, said: ‘In the last few decades, manufacturing has moved from comprising those activities that take place within the factory walls to a multi-skilled, multi-disciplinary cycle of activities combining research, design and development, production, logistics, service provision and end-of-life management.

‘Many different players and partners up and down the value chain are needed to undertake these activities. As a result, it has become difficult for all but the largest players to assemble the skills, knowledge and technologies needed to develop new products and services successfully.

‘The Innovative Manufacturing CRN will enable UK manufacturers of all sizes to access in one place the expertise they need.’

Dr Richard Bateman, co-ordinator of the Innovative Manufacturing CRN, added that, despite widespread public perception, manufacturing remains critical to the UK’s economy.

‘Manufacturing accounts for 14–15 per cent of the UK’s GDP and 50–55 per cent of exports and employs three million people. Most people are surprised to hear that the UK is the sixth-largest manufacturer in the world.

‘The Innovative Manufacturing CRN will support the aim of the government and the Technology Strategy Board to move UK manufacturing “up the value chain” into the high-value, high-technology areas that will provide sustainable and long-term growth for UK manufacturing industries.’

The CRN will draw on the expertise of the 500 researchers working in manufacturing across the university, including those from Brunel’s specialist research institutes that include the Liquid Metals Engineering Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre; the Multidisciplinary Assessment of Technology Centre for Healthcare; and the Brunel Innovation Centre run with TWI.