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The University has received a grant to help revolutionise technologies such as wireless communication and asset tracking.

Exeter secures EPSRC grant to revolutionise wireless technologies

The University of Exeter has received a multi-million pound research grant to pioneer new techniques and materials to control and manipulate electromagnetic and acoustic energy, with the aim of revolutionising technologies such as wireless communication and asset tracking.

The University has received £2.4 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to lead the innovative new five-year project, in partnership with QinetiQ, a leading defence and security company who have a strong track-record of developing technology for both defence and civilian applications.

The substantial grant is part of the EPSRC’s new Prosperity Partnerships scheme, which is designed to further strengthen research partnerships between universities, industry and business partners. The investment is also designed to showcase the pivotal importance of engineering and physical sciences to the UK’s continued development as a global research and innovation leader.

Exeter is one of 10 universities nationwide to lead a Prosperity Partnership project. Both the University and QinetiQ will make substantial co-investments to support the research and its exploitation.

The project led by Exeter, entitled ‘Tailored Electromagnetic and Acoustic Materials’, seeks to develop advanced materials that can be used to control and influence electromagnetic and acoustic energy.

The project aims to develop a host of advanced and cost-effective new techniques, which would enable specialists to create compact antennae for wireless communications, improved remote safety beacons and markers, and new materials to control acoustic noise.

Professor Geoff Nash, the Director of Natural Sciences at the University of Exeter and the academic-lead of the project said: “This is an incredibly prestigious and exciting project, and will strengthen Exeter’s position as a global leader in the development of advanced new materials.

“We are delighted to be co-leading this innovative project with QinetiQ, with whom the University has enjoyed a strong relationship, which was initiated by Professor Roy Sambles FRS, for more than 20 years. We believe that this truly interdisciplinary project, which involves experts in Engineering, Natural Sciences, Computer Sciences and Physics could revolutionise how we develop innovative, cost-effective new techniques in this burgeoning field of research.”

As part of the project, the University of Exeter will recruit eight new postdoctoral researchers and four graduate students, who benefit from the EPSRC Exeter Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials, some of whom will be based with QinetiQ.

Professor Nick Talbot FRS, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact) said:“This is an incredibly exciting venture for the University of Exeter reflecting our commitment to industry partnerships that leverage our combined resources to focus on a shared research challenge and create real economic impact. Our multidisciplinary approach, underpinned by truly cutting edge science in partnership with Qinetiq, has the capacity to revolutionise technologies that impact our daily lives.”

The Prosperity Partnerships initiative is one of two major investments announced on Thursday 13 July, by Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

The Prosperity Partnerships will receive £31 million of government funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) - and will be matched by a further £36 million from partner organisations in cash or in-kind contributions, plus £11 million from universities’ funds, totalling £78 million in all.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “A central part of our Industrial Strategy is boosting the economic impact of our world-class research base by supporting the flow of innovative ideas and techniques from concept to market-place.

“This investment will ensure the work of our universities continues to have positive impact around the world and maintain the UK’s global leadership in science and innovation.”

Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker, who chaired the panel that approved the Prosperity Partnerships projects, said: “The Partnerships awards are a further demonstration of EPSRC's vision in creating exciting opportunities for industry and academia to work together on strategically significant problems.

“The quality of the applications we reviewed was outstanding and demonstrated strength of vision, relevance and a determination to pursue long term collaborative research.

“The breadth of applications too speaks to the diversity of UK industry and to the alignment between the UK’s very best academic teams and our industrial base.

“The grants promise to create a series of exciting avenues of research leading to industrial implementation. It's a wonderful new example of how, in partnership, we can harness our collective capabilities to strengthen our economy and once again underscores the importance of ongoing investment in the HE research base.”

Date: 13 July 2017

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