The ATI’s Head of Strategy, Innovation and Engagement, Rachel Power, launched the Institute’s new event series Aero Guru on 23rd July 2019. In this blog we hear Rachel’s thoughts on Aero Guru, the first event for UK aerospace startups. 

Aero Guru, part of the ATI’s Innovation Strategy, is focused on helping startups solve their biggest challenges and test their solutions against some of the brightest brains in aerospace. The first Aero Guru event had three startups pitch to our panel of 14 gurus and to say the atmosphere was electric would be an understatement. The startups were blown away by the laser-focused feedback and the unprecedented access to key influencers in the industry.

The event was open to all startups interested in the aerospace market and we were overwhelmed by the wide array who registered their interest. We selected three truly innovative startups who touched different aspects of the aircraft manufacturing journey, and curated a diverse panel of gurus with technical, senior management, strategy, investment and start-up development expertise.

The startups were:

  • MeshFlow – who pitched their novel AI solution for additive manufacturing
  • Meteor Power – presented their radical solutions for reducing drag on aircraft
  • Icomat – spoke about their patented approach for composite component manufacture.

Each of the startups had their own unique challenges. One company was only three months old and looking to aerospace for investment and opportunity, and another was looking to fund the next stage of their ambitious development. The very capable Aero Gurus were able bring unique insight to point each startup in the right direction, challenge their assumptions and offer connections to help them grow.

It wasn’t only the startups who benefited, which made the event truly special and unique. The Gurus came together as a community, bouncing ideas off each other, discussing collaborations and making a commitment to work together to develop the aerospace startup ecosystem.

Building a supportive ecosystem within aerospace for startups and enabling new technologies to grow is something I’m passionate about within my role at the ATI. The UK aerospace industry cannot sit back, wait for others to innovate and then follow.

As a world leader in aerospace, the UK is a hotbed for innovation and can lead in the next generation of air transport technologies. New entrants and emerging economies are challenging industry norms and we need collaboration across all participants in the industry to keep the UK driving the future of air transport.

Aero Guru aims to be one part of this supportive aerospace ecosystem and hopes to encourage further ambitious initiatives to emerge.

The next event will be on 10th September, followed by future events on a monthly basis.

If you are interested in getting involved either to pitch or as a Guru then register your interest by emailing aeroguru@ati.org.uk

Our thanks to Dr Simon Weeks, Chief Technology Officer of the Institute, for this blog.

The ATI was delighted to see the recent joint commitment of seven CTOs from the world’s largest commercial aviation manufacturers to work to reduce the net CO2 emissions from aviation. They are on the way to meet the near-term targets set out by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for Aviation (CORSIA). Having played a leading role in the definition of the broader EU Flightpath 2050 environmental impact goals in 2011, I was also really pleased to see their renewed commitment to those too. At the Paris Air Show, where the announcement was made, I had the opportunity to meet with some of these industry leaders and hear their intent directly.

One of the major themes of the ATI’s UK aerospace technology strategy and associated technology programmes, including the Future Flight Challenge, is improved environmental performance; around half of the ATI Programme investment is directly concerned with this. In the UK, our leading technological capabilities in wings, propulsion and systems will make a large contribution to improving environmental performance in the coming years. With the UK government’s commitment for zero net carbon by 2050, the ATI is working with industry and academia to develop a route map for aviation’s contribution.

For wings, we see opportunities to improve the overall fuel efficiency and hence CO2 emissions of aircraft by reducing aerodynamic drag and ‘lightweighting’ using advanced composites. Lightweight composite structures technologies will enable airframers to produce longer, thinner wings for better aerodynamic efficiency. Research on ways to actively enhance laminar low drag flow across wings is already well advanced. Ultimately, we would like to enable structures to reshape themselves, morphing through a flight to further optimise aerodynamics.

On jet engines, ultra-high bypass engine technologies will improve propulsive, aerodynamic and thermodynamic efficiencies, reducing fuel consumption. In the future, electrification of propulsion offers the prospect of simultaneous production of thrust alongside enhancing airframe aerodynamics.

Work on aircraft systems technologies is aimed at making them ever more energy efficient and lighter. Software defined systems will reduce the number and weight of avionics units in an aircraft. Systems will progressively become all-electric, improving the aircraft energy efficiency.

Electrified propulsion, hybrid for longer ranges and all-electric for shorter ranges is heralding in the so-called ‘third age’ of aviation, with the prospect of new markets for urban and sub-regional aviation. With the right integration of technologies at the air vehicle level, there is the real prospect of zero net carbon flight from the outset for these exciting developments.

Achieving zero net carbon flight will need technologies on aircraft and across other areas that impact the carbon emissions from the aviation industry. New sustainable manufacturing technologies will reduce factory carbon emissions and require dramatically less raw materials. We will need to make the flight patterns of aircraft shorter and more energy-efficient through the development and application of new ways of managing air traffic. Technologies for low-carbon impact drop-in fuels – both bio-derived and synthetic – need to be accelerated. Electrified aviation will need zero net carbon electricity from land-based power generation. The UK is world leading in these areas and hence has every opportunity to make progress on both national and international stages.

Going forward, the ATI will be regularly highlighting the progress being made on aviation’s journey to lower environmental impact. If you have any ideas of areas where we could be doing more to help, please let me know!

Photo: © Airbus

Our thanks to William McClintock, Strategy Associate at the ATI and author of the Global Aerospace Patents INSIGHT, for this blog.

The UK Parliament’s declaration of a “climate emergency” is welcome news. The battle against climate change is being taken more seriously, spurred on by growing public feeling on the issue. The recent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) publication suggests that to achieve a net-zero emission Britain, aviation would become ~50% of total UK household emissions by 2050. Rightly, the report emphasises the huge technological challenge of reducing aviation emissions. A more detailed technical study commissioned by the Department for Transport titled Understanding the potential and costs for reducing UK aviation emissions supports this point.

We should take on these technical obstacles, not be defeated by them. Aerospace has a track record of challenging the limits of engineering, driving technological progress that can be exploited more broadly. Economically, the impact of aerospace R&D is twice as great outside the sector than it is within. This underscores the importance of the sector in boosting IP, knowledge and skills in general – things we will need if we are to tackle the climate problem by moving forward, not backwards.

Rising to the climate challenge brings fresh opportunity for innovation in sustainable technology and the generation of world leading IP. Aerospace can drive forward advancement in light weighting, thermodynamic efficiency, electrification and AI, to name a few, like few other sectors can. Our recent Global Aerospace Patents INSIGHT reveals the dramatic global trends in aerospace towards electrification, advanced light-weight materials and near-net-shape manufacturing in a race to secure competitive IP that reduces environmental impact, cost exposure and gains competitive advantage.

Figure One: Global aerospace patent trends show a surge in electrical power system IP. (Source: ATI Global Aerospace Patent INSIGHT). 

Breakthroughs in battery technology, fuelled so far by automotive opportunities, have spiked excitement in urban air transport concepts through technical viability of electric vertical take-off (eVOTL) and sub-regional aircraft – a potentially disruptive technology push. ATI patent analysis evaluated clear trends demonstrating this surge eVTOL technology development globally. Therefore, electric aviation may enable a more distributed aviation network through reduced operating costs, alleviating ground transportation in the long term, and progressing safe zero-emission technology for larger commercial aircraft in the short term.

Figure Two: eVTOL related patents accelerates beyond conventional technology patents. (Source: ATI Global Aerospace Patent INSIGHT).

Both reducing environmental impact and raising UK competitiveness through IP creation underpin our investments in aerospace research and technology. 70% of the portfolio of ATI projects contains the objectives to reduce environmental impact and increase fuel efficiency with over £930m of total ATI project cost has been invested directly in these key objectives.

ATI analysis of the global aerospace patent landscape reveals the increasingly global nature of the supply chain and intense competition for securing valuable IP. However, the UK has been slower than other nations to protect IP in the expanding far east. Generally, large multinational aerospace incumbents are responding to emerging opportunities by protecting IP in countries such as China, Korea and India, whilst equally attempting to mitigate the threat to future market share. Also, given the size of the UK aerospace industry, it also makes a relatively small contribution to the global aerospace patent scene. However, the perceived quality of UK patents is thought to be amongst the highest measured.

The ATI has also produced INSIGHT papers on Electrical Power Systems technology, Additive Manufacturing, Composites and many more which all contribute to the vision of sustainable air transport. A future ATI INSIGHT will look at aircraft autonomy, considered central to streamlining aircraft operations and making further efficiency savings.

The UK air transport industry generates £35bn of revenue, 90% of which is exported, equating to over £10bn in value-add to the UK economy. The ATI remains committed to growing this high-value industry whilst driving sustainability which, we believe, coalesce seamlessly into a single positive vision for the future of UK air transport; implemented through thought leadership and strategic technology investment. Ultimately, generating intellectual property ahead of competition that increases long lasting UK competitive prospects. 

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Innovair, the Swedish programme for aeronautics, together with delivery partners Innovate UK and Vinnova, have today announced the award of four projects that are being funded under a joint aerospace funding call between the UK and Sweden.

The call, operated under the EUREKA Network Projects programme, was developed to foster industry-led collaborative R&D projects between the UK and Sweden to advance both countries’ aerospace industries. UK organisations were given the opportunity to apply for a share of up to £2.25 million to develop aerospace technology in partnership with Swedish companies.

The success of the call was announced at the EUREKA Global Innovation Summit being hosted in Manchester (14th-16th May 2019).

The projects selected will conduct research with strong market potential for the UK and Sweden and, guided by the respective aerospace strategies of the UK and Sweden, cover a range of technology areas, including materials, propulsion and systems.

Two such projects focus on high temperature electronics and the analysis of complex sensors and electric components in aircraft.

With aircraft using ever-greater electrical applications, there is a growing need for new high-temperature electronics and the project, focusing on new transistor devices, will pave the way for more electric applications in aircraft. The benefits of more electrical applications are numerous, including reduced weight, greater reliability, lower maintenance costs and increased efficiency. The project is led by Rolls-Royce and is supported by Ascatron AB and other organisations from Sweden.

The sensors and electrical analysis project, led by ESI Group in Sweden and with International Technegroup as UK partners, will look at electromagnetic interference with aircraft systems. A better understanding will enable more complex sensors to be fitted to aircraft, improving the operation of the aircraft and the passenger experience by increasing connectivity.

Commenting on the call, the UK’s Ambassador to Sweden, His Excellency David Cairns said:

For two countries such as Britain and Sweden our economic development depends on high-quality research, innovation, technology, development, and collaboration, and in perhaps no sector is this more important than aerospace. Through this joint funding call both our countries will close gaps in capability, gain access to new partners, bolster existing capability, and encourage greater levels of trade and investment between both our countries.

Simon Edmonds, Deputy Executive Chair and Chief Business Officer, Innovate UK, said:

As the UK prepares to welcome international businesses and innovation agencies to the EUREKA Global Innovation Summit, Innovate UK, alongside BEIS and the ATI, is proud to be supporting these projects funded through the EUREKA Network Project Call in Aerospace 2018, with Sweden. They demonstrate the vital role that that collaboration with the global supply chain plays in supporting the success of the UK Aerospace industry.

Malcolm Scott, Corporate Development Officer at the ATI, said:

Over the last few years we have shared our respective aerospace strategies, identified areas for mutual collaboration and have taken time to build the case for a joint R&D funding call. We are delighted to be able to award funding to these projects, which will facilitate new relationships and close capability gaps in both the UK and Sweden and we hope to strengthen ties with Swedish colleagues by holding a further call in 2020.

Director General of the Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova, Darja Isaksson said:

To stay competitive within aeronautics you have to collaborate with the best nations to reach excellence in engineering. The long-term benefit of this funding call will be to accelerate the development of aerospace technology by working together and it is very important to do so in light of pressing environmental concerns.

November is a busy month for UK aerospace sector statistics; the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes both the Annual Business Survey (ABS) and data on Business Enterprise Research and Development (BERD). Both reveal significant information on the structural health of the UK aerospace sector for the previous calendar year – 2017. The ATI analyses these key ONS datasets to understand what official national statistics reveal about the current state of the UK aerospace sector.

The overall trend for the UK aerospace sector is broadly encouraging:

  • UK aerospace turnover, value added, and productivity have all been rising on average at around 4-5% per year since 2008; as is investment in research and development and capital equipment.
  • The UK aerospace sector is highly productive with almost £100,000 of output per worker, capital and R&D intensive with greater 10% of value added reinvested and export focused with around 90% of output exported overseas – a jewel in the crown of the UK manufacturing sector.

In this article, several interesting findings from the ONS data are reviewed and discussed.

The rise of aerospace micro businesses
Business population data from ONS, reveals an increase in the number of UK aerospace manufacturing businesses to around 850 by the end of 2016. Around 700 are micro businesses, each employing fewer than 10 people. In fact, since 2008 the number of UK micro aerospace businesses has nearly trebled!

So what is driving this level of increase in UK micro aerospace businesses? It could be better measurement by ONS, i.e. the identification or classification of a greater number of micro businesses to the aerospace sector. It could be that there are a greater number of start-up businesses in the UK aerospace manufacturing sector. Some evidence from around the world and in the UK, does point towards an increase in disruptive innovation and a rise in aerospace start-up businesses.

Peter Willis, Senior Economist at the ATI, said:

Whatever the reason, the UK now accounts for almost half of the active aerospace manufacturing businesses in Europe. This is a potential growth opportunity for the UK, if these businesses can successfully grow and scale-up. The ATI is exploring options on how to best support start-up, scale-up and small business innovation

The continued rise of aerospace repair and maintenance
Part of the growth in the UK aerospace sector economic activity continues to be in the repair and maintenance segment. UK value added for aircraft repair and maintenance is up 25% since 2015, whereas it is roughly flat for aircraft manufacture. Aircraft repair and maintenance now makes up nearly 25% of UK aerospace value added (up from 15% in 2009) and is 60% more productive than aircraft manufacture – likely to be at least in part due to the relatively high margins and continued services revenues available. ATI has published a Through-Life Engineering Services (TES) Technology Strategy for the UK Aerospace Sector to identify the opportunities of transitioning to TES, and the technologies and capabilities required.

The fall in aerospace R&D expenditure
The latest figures from ONS for UK expenditure on aerospace R&D shows a 20% decline in 2017 versus 2016. However, in many ways, a fall in civil aerospace R&D is not surprising based on the market cycle. ATI’s recent INSIGHT Paper, The Evolving Aerospace R&D Landscape, illustrates some of the driving forces behind aerospace R&D much of which is linked to major product development. Entry to service for several big programmes including Airbus A220, A320NEO, A330NEO, A350-1000, Boeing 787-10 and 737MAX, in recent years, marks the start of a quieter period of R&D for the global industry.

James McMicking, the ATI’s Chief Strategy Officer, said:

This presents a challenge to maintaining engineering capabilities until new product development programmes are launched. In the background, UK aerospace is continuing to invest in future technologies that will shape the next generation of aircraft.

The divergence between turnover and value added
Finally, this statistics review has once again highlighted a continued divergence between growth in UK aerospace manufacturing turnover and value added. UK aerospace manufacturing turnover has grown at more than 6% per year since 2008, whereas value added has only averaged 3.5% annual growth. (The recent downward revisions in aerospace value added have made this trend more apparent once more).

Peter Willis said:

Previous ATI blogs have discussed this issue – and one explanation for it may be greater purchases of imported materials and components. This is a missed opportunity for the UK aerospace supply chain and means that the UK aerospace sector is probably growing more slowly than the global aerospace market and losing some market share.

This finding is supported by a previous study by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Strategy on the aerospace supply chain. That study showed the UK share of aerospace procurement by major aerospace companies has been falling, compared to supply chain procurement in the rest of the world.

There are several aerospace sector initiatives all aimed at tackling these issues in the UK aerospace supply chain. Continued support of SC21 (21st Century Supply Chains), Sharing in Growth (SiG), NATEP (National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme) and the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) Supply Chain Charter, by the Aerospace Sector Deal, will be helpful in improving UK competitiveness.

For its part, the ATI is actively seeking opportunities to join some of the UK’s leading aerospace organisations with ambitious small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) for research and technology projects. ATI is open to direct engagement with ambitious small companies looking to participate in or lead ATI projects aimed at the most challenging strategic technologies facing the sector.

The aeronautics sector is essential for developed countries, not only for design, production and operation of competitive aircraft but also for creating a highly-skilled workforce and technology transfer to other sectors. In a globalized world there is a strong need for strategic cooperation in this very competitive field between countries with similar political agendas and background.

The Swedish aeronautics actors within research and innovation are delighted that a joint call between UK and Sweden has now materialized after long preparations on technical content, funding and procedure.

Our two countries have a long tradition of cooperation in aeronautics, both in the military and civil domains, with Swedish companies delivering parts to Rolls-Royce and Airbus in the civil sector and many British companies delivering components and systems to the Swedish fighter aircraft Gripen.

Discussions between the ATI and Innovair started a couple of years ago, with a focus on understanding the other country’s long-term strategies. Thereafter, a Swedish delegation visited various UK facilities including the ATI headquarters, catapult centres, and industries and research centres within universities. A British return visit to Sweden brought high-level representatives from the leading aeronautics companies and meetings were organized with their Swedish counter parts.

British excellence in the aeronautics sector is well known and our partners are looking forward to increased cooperation between our two countries, with the aim of expanding relations between OEMs and Tier 1 supply chain companies, but also to fostering more intense involvement by SMEs. By working together, both countries will be gaining access to skills, facilities and infrastructure that might not be available to them individually – it is a ‘win win’ for both the UK and Swedish aerospace sectors.

On a personal note, I like to thank all our colleagues at ATI, Innovate UK and BEIS, as well as Vinnova, the Swedish Innovation Agency, for helping to create the funding call.

Dr Anders Blom is Programme Director for Innovair, Sweden’s strategic innovation programme for aeronautics. The ATI would like to thank Dr Blom for this guest blog.

To learn more about the UK-Sweden funding call, please visit here.

An information and matchmaking event will take place in Stockholm on 7th September – more details are here.

The ATI and Innovair, the Swedish programme for aeronautics, together with delivery partners Innovate UK and Vinnova, have launched a new UK-Sweden joint funding call for aerospace R&D projects.

The call, operated under the EUREKA Network Projects programme, has been developed to foster industry-led collaborative R&D projects between the UK and Swedish to advance both countries’ aerospace industries. UK organisations can apply for a share of up to £2.25 million to develop aerospace technology in partnership with Swedish companies.

Applicants are expected to develop projects that have strong market potential for the UK and Sweden and all applications must be guided by the respective aerospace strategies of the UK and Sweden: the UK Aerospace Research & Technology Programme strategy (Raising Ambition) and the Swedish aeronautical research and innovation agenda (NRIA Flyg), respectively.

Project ideas are welcome to come forward covering all aspects of civil aerospace and aeronautics. Projects should demonstrate alignment to the national aerospace strategies of the UK and Sweden, which includes structures, materials, systems, propulsion, manufacturing processes, and through-life engineering services.

The call was announced at the Farnborough International Airshow, and the Institute was honoured to be joined Sweden’s Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Torbjörn Sohlström, to mark the occasion.

Stephen Henwood CBE, Chairman of the Aerospace Technology Institute, said:

This call is the result of discussions over the last two years. Collaborating across borders is not straightforward.  Organisations such as the ATI are, after all, set up to benefit the national economy. I am sure the same is true on the Swedish side. But this preparatory work has shown us clearly that, done properly, there is absolutely a prize to be won through working together.

Our teams have worked from a strong base of previous collaboration, shared their strategic goals, explored in detail where mutual interest lies, developed a deep knowledge of the capabilities in both countries, and made the case. They have designed a call to have a catalysing effect – facilitating new relationships, accelerating technology development in mutually important areas, creating new supply chains, and increasing competitiveness in both countries.

The UK’s Ambassador to Sweden, His Excellency David Cairns, provided some words of welcome for the new initiative:

“For two countries such as Britain and Sweden our economic development depends on high-quality research, innovation, technology, development, and collaboration, and in perhaps no sector is this more important than aerospace. I hope that through this joint funding call, both our countries will close gaps in capability, gain access to new partners, bolster existing capability, and encourage greater levels of trade and investment between both our countries.”

The call is now open, and will close at noon on Wednesday 24th October 2018.

For more details, and to register and apply, please visit the Innovate UK (here) or the EUREKA (here) web sites.

Image above: His Excellency Torbjörn Sohlström (L) and Stephen Henwood CBE at Farnborough International Airshow.

Funding support for the latest technologies in aerospace engine manufacturing and performance have been announced by Aerospace Minister Richard Harrington.

The two projects, jointly funded by Rolls-Royce and the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), will bring together the best talent in the industry from academia and businesses to work on world-renowned research for aero-engine maintenance and manufacturing. The funding will support research to develop new engine cooling systems and cutting-edge technology to stop the formation of ice crystals on engines when cruising at high altitudes.

Aerospace Minister Richard Harrington confirmed the £10.7 million government funding towards the Rolls-Royce-led R&D projects on a visit to Rolls-Royce’s engineering and manufacturing facilities in Derby. In June 2017, Rolls-Royce committed to invest £150 million in their UK facilities to support plans of doubling engine production.

Aerospace Minister Richard Harrington said:

As the home of the first jet engine, the UK has an aerospace heritage that’s revered around the world. Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we will continue this legacy and have already committed to work with industry to invest £3.9 billion to further transform the sector.

These two projects will see the best talent from the industry come together to help the UK reach even greater heights in aerospace excellence.

The latest projects, worth over £21 million in total, are supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute and Rolls-Royce with academic industry partners. This will be delivered through Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency.

Chief Technology Officer for Rolls-Royce Paul Stein said:

We welcome the support announced by the UK Government today. Rolls-Royce is focused on pioneering new technologies and developing the next generation of highly skilled engineers by working with academia and industry.  These research projects will play an important role in developing the innovative technologies needed to enhance performance, improve efficiency and reduce emissions of future aircraft.

The projects set to receive funding are:

  • COAST (Critical Oil and Air System Technologies), £3.7 million, focuses on the development of engine systems to support cabin cooling, and advanced sealing solutions for oil systems and bearing chambers. The technologies developed in COAST will support reductions in fuel burn and improve the reliability of oil systems and the integration of engine systems with the airframe. This project is led by Rolls-Royce plc. in collaboration with Bladon Jet Ltd based, an SME in Coventry and the Universities of Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield.
  • DE-ICER (Design Excellence – Ice Crystal Engine Research), £7 million, focuses on tackling the formation of ice crystals that can damage an aircraft. The project aims to target current gaps in ice crystal formation and develop anti-icing systems and technology to protect the engine. This project is led by Rolls-Royce plc. in collaboration with Satavia Ltd, an SME in Cambridge, GKN Aerospace and the University of Oxford.

In 2015, the Government and industry committed to spend £3.9 billion to further transform aerospace research until 2026 to help this sector build on our unique strengths in the UK through the Industrial Strategy.

The Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.

By Kathryn Magnay and Jacqui Murray, Co-Interim Directors, Faraday Battery Challenge

Kathryn and I first met last August in our first team meeting.  We had both been given the title of Co-Interim Director. On paper, the arrangement sounded a hindrance, but from that first meeting, we inspired each other, played to our strengths, delivered content as individuals and worked together to deliver outcomes. We have helped each other to remain true to our values in the midst of difficult decisions or pressured moments, in short, we fell head first into a collaborative leadership approach.

The opportunity for electrification of vehicles is now

From the beginning it just clicked. We knew ‘why’ Faraday was so important to the UK and just as important, we knew ‘how’ we wanted to lead as the temporary custodians of the challenge. The Faraday Battery Challenge has to achieve something monumental for the UK. There is a paradigm shift with the electrification of vehicles coming, now is the opportunity for the UK, but now is also the most complex time for technology – so it isn’t as simple as one person knowing the answers, we needed to stay responsive, open and deliver strategically.

Carving out a competitive advantage for the UK

Those that have heard us speak about Faraday, know we always start with the productivity puzzle, the gap in the UK that means we work longer hours to produce less than the rest of the UK.  You’ll have heard us explain how 163,000 jobs are in Automotive; that per person, Automotive produces twice the value for the UK; that the EV shift is coming due to air quality and climate change regulations and that the time to act is now.  Speaking about why was a joint decision, joint content.  We wanted to communicate the vision so that it empowered urgent action to be taken by our stakeholders – transformation is needed right now for the UK to carve out competitive advantage.

Seeking collaboration inspiration from the British Olympic team

Step back for a moment and consider the programme alongside the level of complexity in the 21st Century.  We know with complexity that collaboration is king and that the programme must deliver across the UK as well as springboard success for individuals. Kathryn and I talk regularly about the coaching approach that the British Olympic team have, how we need this programme to emulate their success.

Collaboration requires trust and participation

Jacqui and I are both aware that collaborative leadership requires building trust and participation. This trust is built upon conveying the vision with passion and conviction and delivering that vision in a fair, transparent and open manner, drawing in the necessary stakeholders to help us realise that vision. We will only acquire the necessary trust if we can demonstrate we are prepared to listen and translate what we hear into delivery, this brings differing views and potential for conflict which we seek to explore and learn from to the benefit of the programme.

No one person has all the answers

As Jacqui has mentioned no one person has the answer and we know we don’t have all the answers so constant checking and revising our plans allows the perspectives of stakeholders to have a continual role shaping the programme.

A value driven programme

Placing these values at the heart of the programme and remaining true to them will take the programme a long way down the path of the transformational change that is required. These are values that are supported by the structures around the programme – a UKRI-based Executive Programme Board and a strong, experienced and keen Advisory Group.

The role of the programme board in collaboration

Our programme board are essentially problem owners ensuring optimal solutions come forward and using a series of designed in audits allow us not just to check progress and achievement of vision but check the route we use to achieve that progress – have we remained true too the values of collaborative leadership and required by open, transparent and fair governance? The Advisory Group is our powerful coalition of actors in the battery space in the UK. It is their role to challenge and advise and to do that well they we must enable a shared vision. This group represents the actors who can capitalise on the success of the programme, we look to them to set the tone and targets to ensure the Faraday Battery Challenge is providing the correct solution for the UK so they can build on it and achieve the last important strand of industrialisation.

7 months of progress

There is a long way to go before we truly deliver world class battery technology in the UK, but in less than 7 months we have:

  • Set up the Faraday Institution and £20 million of application-led, industry-sponsored Fast Track research projects
  • Sponsored collaborative research & development in 27 UK projects with 66 companies using £40 million of funding in the space
  • Opened another £25 million round of collaborative research & development competition, which closed on 28 March 2018.
  • The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP announced the £80 million award for the open access UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and WMG, at the University of Warwick), and this is now underway.
  • We passed the Gateway 0 audit for the programme and have used the recommendations to improve the programme structure.

Enter Tony Harper

On the 9th April, Tony Harper joins this team. His timing is perfect. The operational aspects of getting the Faraday Institution, CR&D Competitions, UK BIC are well underway and we have Communications and International workstreams underway and about to launch another for Skills. This is the perfect opportunity to welcome Tony.  He joins as we start to build in earnest on the quick wins and deepen analysis of the portfolio, the UK battery sector, progress in key technologies worldwide and are starting identify the business case for the next phase of the Faraday Battery Challenge.  With Tony at the helm, we can continue to sharpen the programme into the springboard that UK Industry needs to become world class in battery technology.

The ATI would like to thank Kathryn and Jacqui for their contribution of this guest blog.

Dr Kathryn Magnay is Head of Energy at EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and as such heads the RCUK (Research Councils UK) Energy Programme. Kathryn has spent 15 years at the Research Councils managing investments in engineering and manufacturing and supporting EPSRC’s strategic relationships with its 23 largest University partners.

Jacqui Murray is Head of Advanced Materials at Innovate UK. She is a specialist in automotive steels, regulation and transformational change. Her advanced materials background comes from the UK steel industry and degrees in Materials Engineering. Following an MBA, Jacqui moved into industrial environmental regulation policy for the Environment Agency and Welsh Government.

 

The UK Aerospace Research and Technology (R&T) Programme has been undergoing a process of transformation to improve the transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of the application process. The aim is to reduce project application and funding timescales to just 6 months.

Now, the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and Innovate UK are pleased to announce that the next phase of transformation.  A public Expression of Interest (EOI) competition will be launched for the UK R&T programme on 3rd April 2018.

The New Stage 1 Process

The EOI will be created, assessed and managed on the new Innovate UK digital platform, the Innovation Funding System (IFS). This platform is being introduced across all Innovate UK funding competitions to allow more efficient application and application management.  The first EOI call will open on 3rd April 2018.

The EOI stage is replacing the Strategic Review 1 (SR1), as the first stage of an application for UK Aerospace R&T grant funding. To be considered, an EOI will need to be prepared and submitted whilst the competition window is open. There will be regular EOI competition windows throughout the year.

The EOI has similar, but fewer, questions to a Full Application. The EOI is designed to be as succinct as possible, explaining the business benefits, target application, specific technologies to be developed, approach to delivering and how it will impact the UK. Each answer will be word limited and an applicant will be given the opportunity to upload supporting charts or graphics where appropriate. Applicants successful at the EOI stage will be sent an access link for the IFS system to complete a Full Application.

Key Dates for Applicants

Further EOI competition windows will be published on both the ATI and Innovate UK websites.

Application process overview

 

For all other enquiries, please refer to the information below.

  • Questions about the new process can be sent to: info@ati.org.uk
  • Questions about IFS specifically should be directed to the IUK IFS team: support@innovateuk.gov.uk / 03003214357