Industry links net a £12m reward

August 3, 2001

The UK government has backed seven new multimillion-pound university partnerships with business, including a project to develop nanotechnologies to create gas sensors for use in aircraft fuel tanks.

The latest Foresight Link Awards, totalling £12 million, have been announced by science minister Lord Sainsbury. The scheme is designed to encourage collaborations between science and industry. State funding is more than matched by industry contributions.

The winners included £1.2 million for a European Technology for Business project, which teamed Durham and Cardiff universities with Southmead Hospital Trust and eight small to medium-sized businesses.

Manchester University's computing department won a £330,000 grant to explore the nanofabrication of hydrogen and oxygen sensors with relevant companies. The sensors will be used in fuel cells, aircraft cabins and hospitals to monitor concentrations of oxygen and hydrogen.

The Mobile Virtual Centre of Excellence ( www.mobilevce.co.uk ), a partnership of more than 20 mobile communications companies and eight UK universities that focuses on long-term research into communications, was awarded £1.4 million. The industrial partners will match that amount to fund research into the closer meshing of digital broadcast and mobile telecommunications networks.

  • Brian Wilson, minister of state for industry and energy, has invited applications for a £7 million fund for research into construction.

Mr Wilson said: "Innovation is as crucial to sustainable competitive advantage in construction as it is in other sectors. This is an opportunity for the construction industry to turn big ideas into jobs with government support."

Part of the package will be devoted to priority areas identified by the Department of Trade and Industry: knowledge management, improving building performance and the role of the client. Winning proposals will be half funded by the DTI.

The remainder will be a more general competition run under the Partners in Innovation scheme. Winners will also attract funding grants of up to half.

The scheme has previously funded research into improvements in design to protect buildings from flooding and developed a website to provide technical information on wood as a resource for designers and specifiers.

Successful projects should get under way in April 2002.

Details: www.pii.org.uk

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