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Dr David Clark

WMG can turn to a variety of places for funding – but project leaders and researchers need to know which path is best for a particular project. Dr David Clark aims to help them make sense of the minefield, using his many years of experience with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

After retiring as EPSRC’S Director of Research and Innovation he took the opportunity to experience life on the other side and arrived at WMG as a part-time Principal Fellow in November 2003.

David said: “The UK funding system for research is totally bizarre, with a multitude of sources, and WMG has to think about where to go. Having had long experience of working with people in funding I can give WMG researchers advice on what approach to take.”

David has produced a document called Funding For WMG Research – A Guide to Possible Sources. It explains how funding is channelled from the Treasury and other Government Departments through the Higher Education Funding Council, the eight research councils ­- with EPSRC of particular importance - and the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands. Substantial funds are also available from the EU. However, key to all of this is WMG’s collaboration with industry, which he describes as the ‘DNA’ of WMG.

“For an organisation the size of WMG the amount of money we receive from EPSRC is relatively small, and needs to be increased." He said: “However, WMG is unique in that there is probably no other academic group which receives such a high proportion of its funding by working with industry. There is a lot of repeat custom with companies coming back to us so it shows they must be getting their money’s worth.”

As part of his wider remit for helping the continuous development of the WMG vision, David Clark has produced Introducing WMG – A Beginner’s Guide, which aims to acquaint new staff, students and visitors with the group’s ethos, aims and competencies. He says although the core competencies of design, manufacture and improvement are well established, more attention is needed to identifying market needs and to end-of-life issues such as disassembly and recycling.

The new digital laboratory will be key to this and enable delivery of the eight elements considered by many to be essential to future manufacturing: Leaner, Cleaner, Faster, Smarter, Smaller, Bigger, Pervasive (the use of manufacturing technology in other sectors) and Individual (with people wanting personalised products at no extra cost). This last concept, of mass customisation, will be a defining characteristic of manufacturing in the future.


Dr David Clark