THE FIRST four pilot Faraday Partnerships aimed at improving industry links with the research base were announced this week.
Selected and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the radical new research consortia, made up of universities and research and technology organisations, will concentrate on applying academic research to industrial problems.
The first partnerships are:
* The White Rose Faraday Partnership for Enhanced Packaging Technology, a partnership between Leeds, Sheffield and York universities and Pera International, which will focus on better use of packaging materials by improving product design and reducing environmental impact.
* Intelligent Sensors for Control Technologies, which includes Sira Ltd and the National Physical Laboratory, and will initiate research and ways of disseminating information on intelligent sensing and measuring systems.
* East Midlands Faraday Partnership - Products Comprising Interdependent Mechanical and Electronic Parts, involving Loughborough and Nottingham universities and Pera International, which will serve systems builders providing electronic/ mechanical hybrid assemblies used in products such as cars.
* 3D-Matic - 3D Multimedia Applications and Technology Integration Centre, involving Glasgow University and the Turing Institute, which will enable small companies to gain access to advanced 3D digitisation technology and 3D applications.
Each partnership will receive up to Pounds 50,000 to set up and then up to Pounds 1 million over four years from the EPSRC for collaborative research and training activities.
Most of the funds will be spent in the higher education sector.
Science minister John Battle said: "The Faraday Partnerships represent an important new approach for the links between universities and small and medium sized enterprises. Such links are vital if academic research strengths are to benefit industry and the UK economy."
* Adrian Montague, co-head of global finance at merchant bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, has been appointed chief executive of the Treasury's new Private Finance Initiative taskforce. He will assess the commercial viability of all major PFI projects over the next two years.