The University of Huddersfield has opened a laboratory at Sci-Tech Daresbury in pursuit of new research collaborations with organisations based at the leading science and innovation campus and beyond.
A small team of university researchers have relocated to Sci-Tech Daresbury’s state-of-the-art laboratory building, Techspace One, as part of a drive to develop strategic partnerships with specialists on the campus in Liverpool City Region.
Researchers will focus on the ultra-precision surfaces – particularly optics, including lenses and mirrors – needed for the Science Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to deliver its science programme in ground and space-based astronomy, high power lasers and synchrotrons. From this facility the University of Huddersfield also hopes to work with other similar organisations around the world.
The University of Huddersfield is the latest HE institution to link up with Sci-Tech Daresbury where the universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster already undertake significant activity including at the Virtual Engineering Centre, The Cockcroft Institute and through ESPRC’s SuperSTEM facility led by the University of Leeds and joined by the Universities of Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford and York.
In time, the University of Huddersfield plans to increase the initial team’s size to up to 15 people, depending on grant and contract income. The university is also exploring potential secondments and placements from STFC, Sci-Tech Daresbury and industry to collaborate on joint projects.
The team is working on developing new and improved methods to process ultra-precision surfaces using CNC machines and robots and is starting to explore fully autonomous manufacturing using Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods.
Techspace One, is a three-storey, self-contained building comprising 33,000 sq ft of high quality wet and instrumentation laboratories, grade A office accommodation, meeting hubs and break out areas, immediately attracting industry interest.
One of the key attractions for the university to open a laboratory at Sci-Tech Daresbury was its location.
Professor David Walker, one of the leaders of ultra-precision surfaces research at the University of Huddersfield, said: “Our main reason for locating to this nationally important research campus is to develop strategic alliances with STFC, to identify partnerships with other organisations at Sci-Tech Daresbury and forge collaborative links with industry, research organisations and universities, including the Hartree Centre on future work on AI.
“Our ultra-precision polishing Zeeko machines are among the most advanced in the world and we see STFC as a potential end user of the sort of high specification optics we can make here for astronomy, space and synchrotron optics.
“Sci-Tech Daresbury is a major national facility with lots of activity, with excellent links to industry and convenient transport links. The environment is highly presentable to overseas visitors and stands up to comparison with major labs in other countries, including China, and we’ve received a most welcoming and positive attitude from everyone on-site from the outset.
“We’ve taken high-quality lab space in a new building which has been fitted out to our specification. The collaboration opportunities with STFC and Sci-Tech Daresbury are highly promising, with links into projects, labs and industries for the future.”
Jayne Furnival, group property director of Langtree, said: “We’re delighted to welcome the University of Huddersfield to Sci-Tech Daresbury, already a home to several different universities. It’s a move that we hope will act as a catalyst for a range of new research collaborations on campus, as it has with others.
“Sci-Tech Daresbury is already home to some of the UK’s most ground-breaking research centres and this move reinforces the appeal for world-leading organisations to base their operations here and benefit from the highly innovative and collaborative landscape that we strive to achieve.
“We’re looking forward to supporting the University of Huddersfield as it pursues new partnerships with the diverse range of specialisms on campus which will help to propel its research strategy forward.”
Kate Ronayne, Executive Director of Business and Innovation at STFC, said: “The University of Huddersfield’s relocation is an important new addition to the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus which adds exciting complementary capability to existing facilities, such as the Campus Technology Hub. We look forward to working closely with them to develop innovations that significantly benefit industry and the economic impact of our science and facilities.”