Brunel University London: Brunel awarded £400k to jumpstart knowledge exchange, translation and commercialisation

The best, brightest and most disruptive ideas emerging from UK research organisations will benefit from £118 million funding to jumpstart knowledge exchange, translation and commercialisation, with more than £400,000 of this Impact Acceleration Account funding awarded to Brunel University London.

Announced this week by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the IAA supports critical early-stage translation of UK research to real impacts, transforming public services, creating new jobs, attracting private investment and forging new partnerships with business and charities.

Brunel’s IAA funding comes under the remit of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – EPSRC, part of UKRI – and will strategically support projects to enhance the impact they have for businesses, communities and individuals.

The funding will cover five categories:

Readiness: investing in proof-of-concept and feasibility projects in order to maximise the potential for technology transfer and commercial exploitation of our engineering and physical sciences research
Culture change: supporting activities that offer academics training to enhance their entrepreneurial thinking and to develop approaches to maximise impact from their research
Engagement: creating opportunities to enhance our engagement and collaboration with users of our research through presence at trade shows and events, deliver policy impact from our research through links with government departments
Secondments: providing incentives and rewards to enable staff and doctoral researchers to buy their time out to build enterprise and knowledge exchange opportunities, or develop secondment opportunities to develop strategic engagement with research users
Strategic initiatives: one around sustainability and net zero, and the other around collaboration with small and medium-sized enterprises.
“Research and innovation has the potential to improve people’s lives and livelihoods, rejuvenating communities across the UK and tackling global challenges. It is imperative that we harness that potential,” UKRI’s Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said.

“The path between discovery and impact is not simple and so it is vital that we provide flexible support that allows talented people and teams, and world-class institutions to connect discovery to prosperity and public good.

“Our impact acceleration funding has a fantastic track record in providing support that helps brilliant ideas become realities that make a real difference.”

Previous IAA funding awarded to Brunel was used to nurture strong partnerships that, after a prolonged period of development, led to commercialisation outcomes, such as technology that has led to patent and licensing deals, and the delivery of innovative knowledge exchange training and commercialisation support via two initiatives: Impeller Ventures and Spin Training.

“The IAA has also helped push our research to higher Technology Readiness Level and commercialisation,” said Hitesh Patel, Senior Business Development Manager at Brunel. “For example, our grain refiner for aluminium–silicon and magnesium–aluminium cast alloys led to a licence agreement with an international niobium mining company supplying specialist niobium­containing materials to the automotive industry in more than 50 countries.

“And our work on regenerative engine braking technology, RegenEBD, resulted in direct industry funding and Innovate UK funding to explore trailing technology in buses in China and India.”