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Technology of the future

Newcastle University has scooped £6.2million to become a UK leader in two of the ‘great technologies’ of the future.

Building on the University’s reputation as a leader in the fields of advanced materials and electrical power systems, underpinned by our commitment to sustainability, the funding for Newcastle is split between two key projects.

More than £4 million will be used to build on the university’s National X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy laboratory to create the UK’s leading laboratory for making and characterising engineered surfaces - including the purchase of a state-of-the-art Helium Ion Microscope.

A further £2 million will be used to create an energy storage test bed on Science Central in the heart of Newcastle.  This includes £1 million from EPSRC, £400,000 from Siemens, £200,000 from Northern Powergrid and £400,000 from the university.

Announcing the funding today as part of an £85 million investment, David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said the aim was to drive UK growth in key areas of research such as advanced materials and grid-scale energy storage.

“For Britain to get ahead in the global race we have to back emerging technologies and ensure our universities have the latest equipment,” said Mr Willetts.

“This capital investment will help scientists make new discoveries and take their research through to commercial success. It will drive growth and support the Government’s industrial strategy.”

Leading the Science Central research project, Newcastle University’s Professor Phil Taylor, Director of the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS), said: “This is absolutely fantastic news.

"The University’s expertise in power systems, power electronics, renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure and our close links with key industry partners means we are well-placed here in Newcastle to take a key role in this important and exciting research project.”

Phil Jones, Chief Executive, Northern Powergrid added: "This new storage test bed will build on our Customer-Led Network Revolution project where we are already deploying battery technology to explore the potential to drive down costs and improve network reliability at the same time as helping to reduce carbon emissions.

"We are delighted to be part of this project - it fits perfectly with our ambition to make sure that our region plays a leading role in the country’s journey towards a lower-carbon and more energy efficient future."

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the investment will underpin key sectors for the UK economy, including automotive, manufacturing, aerospace, energy, and healthcare.

Professor David Delpy, EPSRC Chief Executive said: “The successful bids will build capability in areas that are vital for the country and where exciting research is already being carried out. Developing new ways to storing energy, creating new materials for manufacturing and other industries, and increasing our understanding of how autonomous systems communicate, learn and work with humans.”

published on: 17 July 2013