Collaboration between industry and academia has become increasingly important to solve global challenges and drive successful innovation. KCMC has worked with its partner universities for many years to raise awareness of university-based research in the business community, and the University of Liverpool has formed an integral part of this.
The University of Liverpool held the inaugural Industry-Chemistry Engagement Meeting on the 13th and 14th of September. Over the course of two days, attendees heard talks from key industry leaders as well as academics from the Department of Chemistry, covering topics such as nanomedicine, biofilms, energy technologies and catalysis. It was designed to give an overview of recent advances from world-leading research teams and to generate a broad understanding about what the university does, what it can offer and how businesses can engage with it in the future.
Speakers included Dr Katherine Thompson from Unilever and Dr Kevin Treacher from AstraZeneca, who both gave insights into how collaborations with academia can help businesses to overcome industry challenges. Dr Steve Fletcher, Head of Chemistry at the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), discussed the funding and support available through the KTN. There were also talks from Dr Jon Mercer and Professor Laurence Hardwick highlighting the capabilities of both the Materials Innovation Factory and the Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy.
The Materials Innovation Factory formed an integral part of the event, with attendees being given the chance to tour the building and learn about the unique, open innovation approach to research that is practised there. This world-class, open access facility houses state-of-the-art equipment for materials chemistry research and companies interested in the site are able to rent space and work in a more collaborative and flexible way. It also houses Liverpool’s contribution to the Henry Royce Institute, with which KCMC works to enable a joined-up approach to the chemistry-using industry.
Dr Steve McBride, Knowledge Transfer Manager at KCMC, talked about KCMC’s relationship with the Centre for Process Innovation and how they can support companies to accelerate their route from invention to commercialisation.
“By drawing on major centres of materials chemistry expertise in the UK, such as the University of Liverpool, KCMC is able to drive new areas of innovation in advanced materials by facilitating meaningful connections between business and academia,” says Steve.
Dr Alex Cowan, Reader in Chemistry and the department’s impact lead, ran the event with the mission to position the University of Liverpool as a global centre for fundamental science and technology development.
“We wanted to showcase the diversity of our science to industry and to encourage debate, garner direction and facilitate interactions. It was an opportunity to showcase our work to a broad range of potential partners. KCMC were integral to the success of the I-ChEM 2018 as they used their vast industry connections to attract over 40 companies to the event,” says Alex.
Cowan and his team are exploring new routes to generating existing fuels in a more sustainable way, this is just one example of the high impact research taking place at the university. Their work focuses around solar fuels and the catalysts that can convert CO2 captured from different sources, such as cement factories and power stations, and convert it back to valuable feedstock. Cowan’s team study both electrocatalysts and photocatalysts that are very selective for CO2 conversion in the presence of water, which is often found at very high concentrations in captured CO2. The Sum Frequency Generation (SFG) Spectroscopy equipment available at the University of Liverpool allows them to study electrochemical interfaces at sub-monolayer level on a surface in real time. This means they can get a remarkable level of mechanistic detail about the catalyst.
If you are interested in learning more about any of the research taking place in the chemistry department, or any of the facilities on offer, you can read more about it here. [link to brochure]
Similarly, if you would like to find out more about the event you may contact:
Dr A J Cowan
Department of Chemistry
The University of Liverpool