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Ready, Set, Go! The University of Warwick and 62 Coventry schools unite for the Flame of Friendship Torch Relay

Picture shows the official launch of the Flame of Friendship Torch RelayIn anticipation of the Paris 2024 Olympics, The University of Warwick, in collaboration with 62 Coventry primary, secondary, and special educational needs schools, officially launched the Flame of Friendship Torch Relay on Thursday 22nd February.

The torch relay kicked off with a spectacular launch ceremony at Coventry Cathedral, featuring a procession led by Team GB Water Polo player Amelie Perkins, who carried the torch to its first destination, Southfields Primary School.

As the relay unfolds, the torch will journey to 62 schools across Coventry, culminating in a momentous grand finale at the University of Warwick on the 8th July.

The torch has been custom made for this event, following a competition in which over 2000 Coventry pupils took part. The winning design, from a Year 7 student at Finham Park School, was manufactured at WMG as a project done by four Rugby College students currently undertaking T Level-related activities with WMG.

Led by Rebecca Bollands, Deputy Head at Earlsdon Primary School, and supported by the Warwick Institute of Engagement on behalf of the University of Warwick, the Flame of Friendship Torch Relay aims to foster unity and collaboration among Coventry schools in the spirit of the upcoming Olympic Games.

Kerry Baker, Associate Director at the Warwick Institute of Engagement said “I’m so proud of all the people that have had a hand in making the Flame of Friendship a real, physical thing – taking ideas and solutions from the brains of 12- to 50-year-olds and combining them to make something so unique, so stunning, and so representative of Coventry. It’s an honour to be able to support our community in such a fun and once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

At the Finale on Monday 8th July, over 1000 Coventry pupils and teachers will line the road on the University of Warwick campus and join a procession as the torch passes by, making its way along the final relay leg to Butterworth Hall at the Warwick Arts Centre, pausing in the Piazza where members of the Royal Opera House will lead the participants in an Olympic themed dance.

For more information and to view the route of the torch visit our website.

ENDS

Media Contact
University of Warwick Press Office contact:
Kat Beauchamp, Communications Officer
Phone: 07880175408
Email: Katherine.beauchamp@warwick.ac.uk

Mon 26 Feb 2024, 14:26 | Tags: Partnerships Warwick News Outreach

New national initiative to educate the public on automated vehicles (AVs)

Today (Wednesday 21st February 2024), WMG at The University of Warwick, has launched the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education United KingdomPicture shows Professor Sarah Sharples, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Transport delivering a keynote at the PAVE UK launch event (PAVE UK) with the Department for Business and Trade, the Department for Transport, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), and Transport for West Midlands, as its founding partners.

The PAVE UK initiative aims to build public confidence in self-driving technology through a programme of education and engagement, supporting the UK Government’s ambition to safely deploy self-driving vehicles on the road and its aim to make the UK the leader in artificial intelligence (AI).

Picture shows Anthony Browne, Technology and Decarbonisation Minister - keynote speaker at the PAVE UK launch eventy’s launch event.PAVE UK is the country’s first non-governmental organisation that advocates for and delivers public education and engagement programmes on automated vehicles. It launched today at the Royal Automobile Club in London, with Anthony Browne MP (Technology and Decarbonisation Minister), and Professor Sarah Sharples (Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Transport), as the keynote speakers. Over 100 technology developers, safety campaign groups, regulators, innovators, and industry leaders discussed how to ensure the public is engaged in the self-driving technology journey and how to accurately communicate AV safety messages with different stakeholders in society.

Professor Siddartha Khastgir, Head of Verification & Validation at WMG, University of Warwick said: "At WMG, we strive to enhance the safety of self-driving technology and ensure it is safe to operate on the roads. In taking a people first approach, the public should be paramount in the safety conversation and part of the journey during the development and deployment of self-driving vehicles on UK roads.

“PAVE UK will translate technical information into clear, comprehensive and accurate messaging to help communicate safety to the public in an inclusive and accessible manner. Future technology users and other road users will be equipped with the knowledge of benefits and limits of this new transport technology. PAVE UK will also bring together the self-driving ecosystem to tackle the technological challenges, speak honestly and accurately about system capabilities and limitations, and encourage innovators to put the public at the heart of this.”

PAVE UK will work closely with the entire UK Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) ecosystem, to carry out education and engagement programmes, such as research-based educational materials packs, school outreach activities, community outreach, an online video library, webinars, and an online educational app. The programme will be delivered by WMG at the University of Warwick.

Nusrat Ghani MP, Minister for Industry and Economic Security, said: “The UK automotive sector is at the cutting edge of exploiting new innovative technologies. These have the potential to create jobs, grow the economy and accelerate how we reach net-zero.

“This government has shown time and time again that we're committed to creating the right conditions to boost UK advanced manufacturing, and the PAVE UK initiative will help cement the UK as a world leader in self-driving technology."

Technology and Decarbonisation Minister Anthony Browne said: “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to transform our transport sector, and PAVE UK will be a big part of this by raising awareness and embedding confidence in people throughout the country. In the meantime, we’re making sure that these vehicles are safe to use on our roads. Our Automated Vehicles Bill sets a rigorous standard for safety, whilst making sure that this country is where businesses can develop and deploy their cutting-edge technology.”

Organisations and schools wishing to participate in the programmes can contact PAVEUK@warwick.ac.uk

Ends

Note to editors

Additional quotes

Tara Andringa, Executive Director, PAVE said: "When PAVE was founded in 2019, it was a bet on the power of knowledge: we believed that if the public understands the facts of autonomous vehicles, we will see greater public trust in this incredibly promising technology. Our campaign both seeks to demystify automated vehicles– to explain how the technology works – and to help the public understand how these technologies could help to improve the safety, efficiency, and sustainability of our transportation system.

“While countries and regions have adopted different regulatory approaches to automated vehicles, the challenge of AV education is global in nature. Given the tremendous leadership from the UK both in its approach to AV policy and to civic engagement on the technology, we are incredibly excited for the influential role PAVE UK will play in leading public education. The PAVE ecosystem is thrilled for the launch of PAVE UK, and we will work together to build an engagement campaign that will create a template for AV education worldwide."

Automated Vehicles Bill: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3506

About WMG, University of Warwick

WMG is a world leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes.

As an international role model for successful partnerships between academia and the private and public sectors, WMG develops advancements nationally and globally, in applied science, technology and engineering, to deliver real impact to economic growth, society and the environment.

WMG’s education programmes focus on lifelong learning of the brightest talent, from the WMG Academies for Young Engineers, degree apprenticeships, undergraduate and postgraduate, through to professional programmes.

An academic department of the University of Warwick, and a centre for the HVM Catapult, WMG was founded by the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing and improve competitiveness through innovation and skills development.

About PAVE UK

PAVE UK aims to bring the conversation about automated vehicles (AVs) to the public so that future users and technology developers can play a role in shaping our future.

By arranging education and engagement programmes around AVs, our goal is to increase the public’s awareness of the capabilities and limitations of the technology and build up societal acceptance and trust in this new transport innovation. We also aim to develop a correct user attitude to foster the safe deployment of AVs.

We strongly believe that by fully and transparently equipping the public with CAM technology knowledge, we could then achieve the potential benefits of the technology.

 

Media contact:

Annie Slinn

Communications Officer (Sciences)

Annie.Slinn@warwick.ac.uk

 

Gabbie Lau

WMG Marketing and Communications Officer (Verification and Validation Research Group)

Gabbie.Lau@warwick.ac.uk


WMG students tackle industry challenges through Company Collaboration Projects

The MSc International Trade, Strategy and Operations (ITSO) course, at WMG, University of Warwick, is collaborating with a series of key industrial partners to offer students the opportunity to work on Company Collaboration Projects (CCP) again this academic year.

Company Collaboration Projects are collaborative dissertations that give students the opportunity to work on real-life challenges facing industry. The projects provides another option for students when selecting their dissertation, and in turn help to develop key skills and employment capabilities, whilst helping organisations to resolve their challenges via systematic research.

The CCP dissertation option was presented to students, at a special launch event for 23/24, by WMG’s ITSO Course Director, Dr Di Li. At the event, WMG’s Associate Dean (Postgraduate Education), Professor Dan Nunan highlighted the values of knowledge study and the practical impacts.Picture shows the CCP launch event at WMG, University of Warwick

The students also heard from senior executives at industrial partners, including Dr Filomeno Martina, CEO and co-founder at WAAM3D, and Ms Shu Jia, Assistant CEO at Rexville Solutions, who shared more details about the projects available this year.

Ms Shu Jia explains: “The Company Collaboration Projects have brought great impacts to our business by helping us save costs of several millions. We are so happy to continue the collaborations on this with the ITSO programme at WMG.”

Dr Filomeno Martina comments: “WAAM3D is delighted to work together with WMG on the Company Collaboration Projects, which are a key aspect of our academic engagement. WMG’s projects are well organised and deliver highly valuable outputs. We feel honoured to support the WMG students with both their academic studies and professional development.”

ITSO student course representative, Rong Fu, says: “This event not only helps ITSO students to have a clearer understanding of the type of projects available, but also provides the opportunity to communicate with corporate staff and supervisors face-to-face. The CCP allow us the opportunity to apply what we have learnt in solving real-world problems which is extremely attractive and helpful for our future career development.”

Find out more about WMG’s International Trade, Strategy and Operations Master’s Programme here: MSc International Trade, Strategy and Operations | University of Warwick

If you represent a company who is interested in finding out more about CCP please email WMG’s Assistant Professor and ITSO Course Director, Dr Di Li, here: D.Li@warwick.ac.uk.

Wed 31 Jan 2024, 09:46 | Tags: Education Partnerships Full-time Masters

Six £15,000 bursaries awarded to talented engineering students from the West Midlands

Six engineering students from the West Midlands have each won a bursary worth £5000 a year for three years to support their university studies. The awardees were announced today (7 December) at an event at WMG at the University of Warwick to celebrate three successful years of the Lord Bhattacharyya Engineering Education Programme.

The six recipients of the Lord Bhattacharyya Higher Education bursaries were announced by engineer and social entrepreneur Yewande Akinola MBE HonFREng, who was the keynote speaker at the celebration event held at the National Automotive Innovation Centre in Coventry.

The Lord Bhattacharyya Engineering Education Programme aims to widen participation in engineering by attracting young people in the West Midlands from low-income backgrounds andPicture of the late Professor Lord Bhattacharyya other groups currently underrepresented in engineering. Launched in 2020, the five-year programme is led by the Royal Academy of Engineering in close partnership with WMG. It is funded by the Department Science, Innovation and Technology as a tribute to the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya Kt CBE FREng FRS, a renowned engineer, academic, educator and government advisor who established WMG at the University of Warwick in 1980. The Programme provides a comprehensive package of engineering-focused science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) support, including grants to schools and colleges, teacher networking and CPD opportunities, funded industrial secondments, as well as individual FE and HE student bursaries.

The six bursary recipients are:

  • Natasha Daniels, studying civil with environmental engineering at the University of Brighton
  • Ecaterina Falinschi, also studying civil with environmental engineering at the University of Brighton
  • Saara Hussain, studying general engineering at the University of Warwick
  • Wafiq Hussain, studying aeronautical engineering at Imperial College London
  • Jamie Phillips, studying mechanical engineering at the University of Plymouth
  • Kelly Zheng, studying engineering with a foundation year at the University of Liverpool

Since 2020, a total of over £400,000 has been awarded in bursaries to 28 students.

Over 150 people from schools, colleges and engineering industries in the West Midlands attended the event to celebrate the Lord Bhattacharyya Engineering Education Programme. The event featured secondary schools and further education colleges demonstrating to invited guests some of the projects that have been supported by the Programme and helped to enrich science, technology, engineering and maths teaching and learning.

The day also included inspirational speakers and hands-on activities, including a competitive group challenge delivered by Jaguar Land Rover’s Powertrain team, and an immersive session in TATA Motors’ VR lab and tour of their cutting-edge research facilities. More than ten other locally based engineering employers were also on hand to give students an understanding of the region’s engineering excellence and career opportunities.

Dr Rhys Morgan, Strategic Projects Director for Skills and Inclusion at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said of the celebration: “The energy and enthusiasm shown by the students, and indeed everyone else present at the event was fantastic to witness. The creativity and diversity of thought shown by the students is exactly what West Midlands businesses will need from their future engineers and technicians in order to thrive and contribute to the local and national society and economy.

“My congratulations too to the six students awarded bursaries who have already taken the next step towards becoming engineers and I wish them every success.”

Professor Margaret Low MBE, Director of Outreach and Widening Participation at WMG, said: “The Lord Bhattacharyya Engineering Education Programme has been a valuable support network for local schools and for teams at the University who work in partnership with our community. It has brought together teachers, students, academics, and industrial partners to create inspiring opportunities for all.

“The bursary awards encourage and support students to study engineering at university. These students have demonstrated considerable skill and experience already to have been awarded the bursaries, and it’s clear that these students have bright futures ahead. I wish them well on their engineering journey.”

Applications for the fourth round of Lord Bhattacharyya Higher Education Bursaries will open in March 2024, for students enrolling at university in September 2024.

End

Notes for Editors

1. More information about the six awardees can be found here.

2. The Lord Bhattacharyya HE Bursary Scheme helps students at sixth forms, colleges and academies across the West Midlands prepare for degree-level engineering education. The funding available provides students from low-income households or under-represented communities with a pathway to higher education and therefore encourages the pursuit of careers in the sector. The Scheme not only drives diversity and inclusion throughout the engineering sector, but also ensures that talented students are equipped with the resources needed to develop the latest engineering skills required to access degree-level programmes and ultimately thrive in a fast-paced sector with lots of opportunities.

3. The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.

4. WMG, University of Warwick, is a world leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes.
As an international role model for successful partnerships between academia and the private and public sectors, WMG develops advancements nationally and globally, in applied science, technology and engineering, to deliver real impact to economic growth, society and the environment.
WMG’s education programmes focus on lifelong learning of the brightest talent, from the WMG Academies for Young Engineers, degree apprenticeships, undergraduate and postgraduate, through to professional programmes.
An academic department of the University of Warwick, and a centre for the HVM Catapult, WMG was founded by the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing and improve competitiveness through innovation and skills development.

Media enquiries to: Pippa Cox at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. +44 207 766 0745; email: Pippa.Cox@raeng.org.uk

Thu 07 Dec 2023, 11:12 | Tags: Partnerships Lord Bhattacharyya Outreach

Collaborative project wins prestigious industry award

Picture of a car tyreResearchers at WMG at the University of Warwick and the University of Victoria in Canada, have won the inaugural Synthos Rubber Circularity Award.

The international competition was launched to encourage cutting-edge ideas and solutions that will significantly improve the environmental performance of synthetic rubber-based tyre compounds, aligning with the sustainability objectives of the global automotive and tyre industries.

Synthos, a global leader in synthetic rubber, praised the two universities for their breakthrough technology research concept and global collaborative approach.

Professor of Nanocomposites at WMG, University of Warwick, Chaoying Wan explained: “Rubbers are ubiquitous materials in modern society and have played important roles across transportation; construction; oil and gas; biomedical devices; sports and electronics.

“As the key component to connect the vehicle to the road the performance of the tyre, including its rolling resistance, abrasion resistance and wet grip, directly determines the fuel efficiency, wear emission and safety.

“The emerging EVs and SUVs have raised increasing higher demands for performance that challenge the current technology. This new partnership, with Synthos Synthetic Rubber and the University of Victoria, will enable us to innovate rubber chemistry and develop functional rubber nanocomposites manufacturing technologies to address performance challenges. The new technology will also innovate traditional rubber systems to be actively recyclable.”

Matteo Marchisio, Vice President, Synthetic Rubber, stressed the importance of investing in research and development of sustainable rubber and tyre materials. “We are very proud of our diverse group of exceptional and talented scientists that make up the Synthos Rubber R&D team. Together with the University of Warwick and the University of Victoria, we see an exciting future in expanding our product development horizons. I firmly believe that by fostering innovation and collaborating with the brightest minds in scientific research, we move not only ourselves but also the entire value chain closer to our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

Synthos Synthetic Rubber R&D Director Dr. Malte Wohlfahrt added, “We congratulate the University of Warwick and the University of Victoria for presenting an impressive research concept that we believe is the best fit for us. However, I also want to acknowledge the excellence of many other entries we received. The Synthos Rubber Circularity Award isn't just about crowning a winner; it's about advancing a culture of innovation. Therefore, we intend to collaborate with and invest in some of the other standout scientists and institutes we’ve had the honor to engage with. Overall, this award has sparked immense inspiration across our entire rubber business and given us much food for thought.”

The university collaborators will receive a three-year funding package to support a dedicated research team. They will also be provided with Synthos rubber materials and access to its state-of-the-art facilities. In addition, scientists from both institutions and Synthos will form a project team to work closely together and leverage the capabilities of all parties in a way that maximises the value of the collaboration to the tyre industry.

Find out more about Nanocomposites research at WMG here: Nanocomposites (warwick.ac.uk)


University of Warwick teams up with Ca’ Foscari University in Venice to create museum exhibitions of the future

The University of Warwick is collaborating with Ca' Foscari University of Venice to analyse Roman artefacts in a history project which could change the face of museums for the 21st century.

Warwick is working with historians at Ca’ Foscari to scan and analyse artefacts from ancient Roman and pre-Roman Venice, including in 3D and VR forms.Picture shows WMG scanning

Researchers hope that these artefacts, scanned into 3D and virtual reality (VR), could revolutionise how people experience historical items, including in museums.

Rather than studying items in glass cases, artefacts could instead be scanned and produced using 3D printing or VR technology so visitors can hold and experience history in a whole new way.

This is especially vital when the items themselves are fragile or extremely old, meaning the originals can’t be held or examined by the public.

The collaboration between Warwick and Ca’ Foscari is focused on over 30 items related to religion from the Roman settlement of Altinum – the ancestor of the city of Venice.

Altinum is larger than Pompeii but remains mostly unexcavated, with researchers suggesting a trove of artefacts may be there waiting to be discovered.

The items themselves are from the Roman period and before, including from the Venetii natives who were assimilated into the Roman Empire over centuries.

The artefacts are being analysed by historians at Ca’ Foscari, with engineers at Warwick using cutting edge imaging technology to scan the items in incredibly high definition.

This helps historians read writing from the period and is especially vital when some artefacts have been damaged or are fragmented.

Academics at Warwick and Ca’ Foscari presented their findings at a conference in Venice on Friday (24th November), highlighting the potential of the combined arts knowledge of Ca ‘Foscari and the technology of WMG.

Picture of Venice artifactProfessor Mark Williams, Head of the Centre for Imaging, Metrology and Additive Technology (CiMAT) at WMG commented: “This is an excellent example of universities working together, including across the arts and sciences. This scanning technology has truly exciting possibilities, including for the future of historical learning and we were delighted to be able to assist our Venetian colleagues in bringing a small section of their history to life”.

Associate Professor Lorenzo Calvelli, a historian at Ca’ Foscari University, said: “These artefacts represent the very beginnings of Venice from over two millennia ago, and we are very pleased to be able to bring this history to a wider audience, both here in Italy and in the UK.

“It has been excellent to meet and collaborate with colleagues from Warwick, and I am very excited about our future plans to dive deeper into the treasure trove of artefacts that is waiting for us in Altinum”.

Altinum developed over the course of the Roman Empire into a booming trading hub, particularly know for valuable amber and horses which were prized across Europe. Eventually, refugees from Altinum are believed to have contributed to the founding of Venice in the wake of the fall of the Roman Empire.

Professor Rachel Moseley, Chair of the Faculty of Arts at Warwick, commented: “This is an excellent example of science and the arts working together to create exciting new possibilities.

“Every day, we see scientific advances allowing us to delve deeper into history in a way which recently we would have thought was impossible. Equally, the arts give science that grounding and philosophy to make these advances tangible to the public.

“I’m delighted that our new base of Warwick Venice Centre has brought all these excellent researchers together and is already encouraging collaboration in a hugely positive way.”

Mon 27 Nov 2023, 14:01 | Tags: Metrology Partnerships Research

Millions awarded to University of Warwick to turbocharge UK’s battery production

A new cutting-edge battery materials scale-up facility, to support the development of battery supply chain in the UKThe University of Warwick has been awarded millions of pounds to boost British production of crucial materials for electric car batteries.

The £12 million in funding has been awarded by the Faraday Battery Challenge to the High Value Manufacturing Catapult at WMG at the University of Warwick, and CPI at NETPark (North East Technology Park), in County Durham.

It will be used to create the new Advanced Materials Battery Industrialisation Centre (AMBIC).

The Centre will bridge the gap between academic research and battery production and will focus on how batteries can be made to work more efficiently, as well as on equipment and skills development.

The Centre is needed to help the UK develop the electric vehicle batteries of the future, with reduced costs, more sustainable materials and improved performance.

Electric vehicle batteries make up around half the cost of a new electric vehicle, so reducing the cost of their production is crucial to lowering the cost of EVs to parity with combustion engine vehicles.

The funds are part of a wider investment strategy by the Faraday Battery Challenge and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to ramp up Britain’s battery production and infrastructure to boost the UK’s domestic battery supply chain.

Professor David Greenwood, CEO of the WMG High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centre said: “Cathode and anode active materials make up more than 50% of the valuea new cutting-edge battery materials scale-up facility, to support the development of battery supply chain in the UK of an automotive battery cell.

“For the UK to take its great academic research into production, and to capture the billions of pounds of resulting economic value in the UK, we need facilities which allow Britain to scale up and fully evaluate new materials. This investment, alongside the combined skillsets of CPI and WMG will provide that capability for the UK.”

The funds are specifically to help turbocharge the scale up of battery materials manufacturing within the UK. Only by producing batteries on a wider scale domestically can the EV industry make sure there is no bottleneck in supply and demand. By strengthening UK supply chains of battery materials, WMG is working with UKBIC and others to create a more resilient supply chain.

Thomas Bartlett, Challenge Deputy Director for the Faraday Battery Challenge, said: “AMBIC will bring together two emerging regions of battery innovation and manufacturing; the North-East and Midlands, under one facility to de-risk and accelerate battery materials scale up in the UK.

“Through the Faraday Battery Challenge’s £12m investment in the High Value Manufacturing Catapult we will establish a truly world-class facility to support the growth of a battery materials supply chain. With AMBIC and previous investments in cell, module and pack scale-up at UKBIC and R&D in the wider ecosystem, the UK will now be in a position to support businesses from “powder to pack” and from lab to commercial scales.”

Katherine Bennett, CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said: “The next generation of battery technologies are critical to the green energy transition and a major opportunity for UK manufacturing. Realising that potential will require combining our collective expertise and this investment from the Faraday Battery Challenge is a brilliant example of that in action.

“In CPI and WMG, the Advanced Materials Battery Industrialisation Centre has two centres that are at the very forefront of chemical processing and battery cell development; together they can turbo charge battery materials scale-up.”

Frank Millar, Chief Executive Officer at CPI, said: “The Advanced Materials Batteries Industrialisation Centre will enhance the UK’s existing competitive advantages in batteries technology, and it stands to become a catalyst for the UK to address some of the biggest challenges we face as a nation. By giving innovators the opportunity to harness our expertise we can tackle issues such as climate change, while growing a sector that will be vital to the future of the economy.”

Mon 27 Nov 2023, 11:42 | Tags: HVM Catapult Partnerships Research Battery Scale-Up

WMG research helps develop new generation of graphene composites

Picture of the IINM at WMG, University of WarwickResearchers at WMG, University of Warwick’s, International Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM) have been working with the team at Versarien plc on a new comprehensive portfolio of graphene and related nanomaterial based thermoplastic polymer compounds and masterbatches.

The new PolygreneTM compounds are expected to have potential commercial applications in areas as diverse as sports equipment, construction products, aerospace and automotive components.

Since 2018, Versarien subsidiary 2-DTech Ltd (2DT), Composites UK member, has funded PhD and postdoctoral researchers to understand the use of its Nanene™ graphene powders and other nanomaterials in thermoplastic systems. Dr David Reinoso-Arenas, the first 2DT funded PhD student, with support from the EPSRC Doctoral Training Programme, worked with Versarien’s Nanene™ materials in thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) systems and joined Versarien full-time last year as part of the team at Versarien’s subsidiary Cambridge Graphene Ltd.

Dr David Reinoso-Arenas, explained: “The new PolygreneTM thermoplastics portfolio is a culmination of my PhD research, some of which is due to be published in peer-reviewed journals. Since then we’ve been able to further develop and test these materials using different nanomaterial fillers and process conditions to fully optimise the resulting product performance. My PhD experience at the IINM and WMG was really enjoyable and enabled me to work closely with industry to ensure that the outputs of my research could be validated and have commercial viability.”

David’s PhD was performed under the supervision of Professor Tony McNally, whose team has an established capability in incorporating a wide range of nanomaterials into bulk polymer systems.

Professor Tony McNally, who leads the Nanocomposites Research Group at WMG, University of Warwick, said: “Working with Versarien over the last few years has given the IINM and WMG access to alternative graphene materials that have shown interesting phenomena when blended in these TPE systems. By tuning the nanofiller loading and optimising process conditions, David’s research showed that exceptional gains can be achieved in mechanical properties across the board (tensile strength, modulus, elongation at break, toughness and abrasion resistance) without compromising any properties. The addition of graphene also highlights improvements in polymer processing which may offer lower energy usage and, therefore, improving sustainability.”

Professor McNally continues to work with Versarien by providing a funded PhD position in 2D material based rubber systems, making use of the IINM’s new state of the art rubber processing and testing capabilities With support from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC), WMG has established a world class facility for the study of elastomers.

Dr Stephen Hodge, Versarien’s CEO, added: “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the IINM and WMG in rubber processing and understanding the interactions of our graphene and other 2D materials in these more complex systems, and hope to be able to demonstrate significant benefits that can impact upon real-world applications.”

Find out more and download technical datasheets here: https://versarienproducts.co.uk/thermoplastics

Find out more about WMG’s Nanocomposites research here:https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/materials/nanocomposites/


University programme credited for helping West Midlands cut energy consumption by 32%

WMG has been shortlisted for an ‘Energy Efficiency Project of the Year Award’ A university programme which helped SMEs reduce energy consumption by 32% has been nominated for a national sustainability award.

WMG at The University of Warwick helped more than 50 SMEs in the West Midlands become more sustainable after the energy crisis left 60% of these critical UK manufacturers threatened with closure. The project has helped reduce the energy and fuel consumption of SMEs, which are responsible for 44% of non-household UK emissions.

WMG achieved this through its Net Zero Innovation Network which is now up for ‘Energy Efficiency Project of the Year Award’ – hosted by edie’s Net Zero Awards.

The Net Zero Innovation Network is helping to deconstruct the complexities of energy management, sustainability, and innovation for manufacturers across the UK. The network of engineers, innovation managers and industry experts offers practical tools and programmes to help SMEs overcome barriers such as lack of time, internal skills and cash-flow to invest. There is no cost for businesses involved, the only investment needed from SMEs is time.

Net Zero Innovation Network also provides access to state-of-the art equipment at the University, help companies reduce their energy consumption. The programme, built on the key themes of people, planet and profit, gets under the skin of the business to empower them to make real lasting change – upskilling staff and reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions.

The Net Zero Innovation Network designed a Manufacturing Energy Toolkit to provide provide solutions for SMEs impacted by the energy crisis. This toolkit measured and analysed energy consumption at a granular level, using WMG systems and research. The average energy saving of businesses using the toolkit was 32% and one SME reduced its energy consumption by 81%.

Other successful Net Zero Innovation Network projects included:

  • Waste heat recovery simulation – assessing how to redirect heat in businesses to avoid additional energy (heating) being used.
  • Process automation – using robots or software to help automate more mundane, repetitive and simple tasks, enabling other staff members to focus on more impactful projects.
  • Granular material and energy monitoring – mapping out what materials and energy is currently being used, identifying ways to enhance efficiency or reduce waste
  • Digitalisation – encouraging companies to utilise digital tech and systems e.g. upgrading their processes from paper to online/digital


Laura Downey, Innovation Manager at WMG, and technical lead of the programme, said: “The Net Zero Innovation Network has supported over 50 businesses and counting. As a result, the businesses we’ve partnered with have reduced their emissions whilst improving profitability, remained suppliers of choice and increased material and energy efficiency. We are honoured to have been shortlisted for the edie Net Zero Awards and look forward to supporting even more SMEs on their journey to net zero.”

Leslie Sharp, Director of Kingfisher Enamelling, who benefited from the WMG programme, said: “WMG staff provide a range of knowledge and expertise which we just did not have. Added to this, their drive and commitment to help SMEs is immeasurable.”

The winners of edie’s Net Zero awards will be announced on 15 November. Find out more about the awards here https://event.edie.net/netzeroawards/3554235

For SMEs wanting to get involved in the scheme, there was a webinar on 26 October with a guest talk from participant company Professional Polishing Services https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/mediacentre/wmgevents/nzinwebinaroct23

Tue 31 Oct 2023, 14:23 | Tags: SME Partnerships Sustainability

The Manufacturing Commission calls for greater support for businesses to navigate further education reforms and upskill their workforce for a digital future

Picture shows Professor Robin Clark at the Policy Connect report launch eventThe Dean of WMG at the University of Warwick, Professor Robin Clark, spoke at the launch of Policy Connect’s new report on manufacturing skills this week (Wednesday 25th October). WMG supported the development of the report, including holding a roundtable with West Midlands employers; Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) providers; and regional skills experts.

Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea CBE DL, launched Policy Connect’s latest report – Upskilling Industry: Manufacturing Productivity and Growth in England, alongside Minister for Enterprise and Markets, Keving Hollinrake MP; WMG Advisory Board member, Mark Pawsey MP and the Shadow Minister for Innovation, Chi Onwurah MP.

The Manufacturing Commission’s inquiry considers the implications of recent skills system reform in England on the manufacturing sector.  It concludes that labour shortages are restricting productivity across the economy, with skills gaps in the manufacturing sector costing between £7.7 and £8.3 billion annually in lost economic output.

To address this the report recommends government make several reforms to the skills system:

· Support for SMEs in the manufacturing sector to help upskill their workforce, including incentives to deliver T-Levels and host skills boot camps. 

· Greater flexibility in the use of the Apprenticeship Levy funds, including ring-fencing of unused Levy funding for investment in wider upskilling. 

· A national campaign to increase the uptake of STEM subjects by women and people of minority ethnic backgrounds. 

· Appointment of a government manufacturing ‘Champion’ to raise awareness of the manufacturing sector in schools and promote the role that the manufacturing sector is playing in combatting the climate crisis. 

 Inquiry Chair, Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, CBE, DL said: “As Chair of the Manufacturing Commission and a proud supporter of British manufacturing, I am delighted to have been involved with this inquiry, which considers the impact of skills shortages across the sector. 

“Throughout the evidence sessions that have informed this work, I have been inspired by accounts from manufacturing businesses that are using all levers available to them to upskill their workforces. The recommendations that we have made seek to help businesses, education providers, and individuals best navigate the current policy landscape and deliver the skills that the manufacturing sector so vitally needs.” 

Inquiry Vice-Chair, and WMG advisory Board member, Mark Pawsey MP added: “As a member of the Business and Trade Committee and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group, I regularly hear of the skills shortages that limit productivity within the UK’s manufacturing sector. This inquiry explores how businesses can collaborate better with education providers to deliver the skills that local communities need. This is particularly important in the West Midlands, which is home to a significant part of the UK’s automotive and future battery technology capability.” 

Professor Robin Clark, Dean of WMG, said: “The proposals in the report contain lots of good ideas on how to develop a system that really works for learners and employers, and suggests practical changes that can make a real difference to our skills system.

“The report is a call to action for all of us working in skills to encourage learners, course providers and employers to get engaged in manufacturing, give SMEs strong incentives to support skills and collaborate to improve course design, provision, and approval.

“We’ve got great examples of how skills can be transformative for businesses and students in manufacturing. Now we need to work together to make that the experience everyone has from our skills system.”

Read the full ‘Upskilling Industry’ report here: https://www.policyconnect.org.uk/research/upskilling-industry-manufacturing-productivity-and-growth-england

Fri 27 Oct 2023, 11:24 | Tags: Partnerships Skills

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