Materials KTN to give UK manufacturers a competitive edge
A new partnership between businesses, research and technology organisations
and universities will help give UK manufacturing an edge as global markets
become ever more competitive. The Materials Knowledge Transfer Network, an
organisation aimed at making cutting-edge science available on the factory
floor, was launched at the London Science Museum by Science and Innovation
Minister, Lord Sainsbury, on 19 January.
The £200 billion materials sector contributes 15 per cent to the nation's
GDP, directly employs 1.5 million people and supports another 4 million
jobs. Lord Sainsbury said: 'The Materials Knowledge Transfer Network will
bring together industry and research expertise, and as a result make the
best use of resources and spread best practice. It will provide a one stop
shop for unsurpassed materials advice to UK manufacturing and service
'By participating in the network, companies will be able to learn about, and
make use of, the very latest developments in materials technology from
around the world. Businesses will have access to the very best of our
scientific and manufacturing facilities to research and apply innovations in
the use of materials.'
The Department of Trade and Industry will provide more than £11 million for
the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network over the next three years.
The Materials Knowledge Transfer Network will give users access to
up-to-date information on materials' properties, where to get advice,
research and development and other services and provide a forum for sharing
information. The network will have sections dedicated to each class of
material, for example, metals, composites, plastics, ceramics, minerals and
The Materials Knowledge Transfer Network is an important element in the
Government's aim to consolidate the UK materials industry as one of today's
key drivers for a successful manufacturing sector.
Lord Sainsbury said: 'Collaboration is the key to the UK retaining its
position at the cutting edge of science and innovation. We must focus on
the transfer of knowledge and the application of research, and the creation
of a Materials Knowledge Transfer Network is a major step towards reaching
'With manufacturing sector competition growing very rapidly, particularly
from developing countries, this sharing of information, research and
innovation will help give UK companies a competitive edge.'
Notes to editors:
- The Materials Knowledge Transfer Network builds on the former Advanced Materials Forum. It incorporates Faraday Advance, Plastics, Packaging, PowderMatrix and Technitex, as well as the National Composites Network. It has new nodes covering Smart Materials, Surfaces and Structures and will soon include the National Metals Technology Centre.
- Bringing these existing networks together under one umbrella will ensure they work together, optimise resources, spread best practice and provide a one stop shop for materials advice and expertise to UK manufacturing.
- The Government recognises it has a key role in strengthening the science base and has committed significant extra resources to research, increasing the science budget from £1.3 billion in 1997/98 to £3.4 billion
- The Government has allocated £370 million over three years to the Technology Programme, which is overseen by an industry-led Technology Strategy Board, to deliver Collaborative R&D projects and Knowledge Transfer
Networks. There are currently 17 Knowledge Transfer Networks established within DTI and other Government support of £40m over the next three years. For further details visit www.dti.gov.uk/technologyprogramme
- A number of innovative UK companies have received help through the National Composites Network, which is now part of the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network, to gain a competitive edge.
- For example, Team Jota, a leading British sportscar championship team, was looking for a durable, low mass, low volume way to prevent heat from the car exhaust's system from damaging its floor. The NCN was able to link Team Jot with materials joining specialist TWI Ltd, which is investigating flame spraying an aluminium-based powder directly on to the structural floor to produce a heat-reflecting surface.
- In another example, NCN tech support helped London-based Solarcentury optimise the design of a support frame for its new range of solar power roof tiles. Solarcentury wanted to explore using a composite, rather than steel, support frame to lower costs and allow more features. This partnership not only showed that a composite frame would provide a cost-effective alternative to steel, but also reduced time and costs at the design/prototype stage.
- For more information on the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network visit www.materialsktn.net
Date Posted: 23 January 2006