Funded Unique Facility Access

Progress your product development ideas through access tocutting-edge science and technology equipment and knowledge.

Analyse, design and test your product ideas

Access to a variety of regionally unique science and technology facilities and capabilities from Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria that would typically be unavailable to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Who is it for?

Cumbrian SMEs from any ERDF eligible sector who need access to technical expertise, equipment and facilities to support the development and prototyping of new products and processes.

What facilities are on offer?

Chemistry, engineering and physics facilities (including specialist equipment, laboratories and masterclasses) at Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria.

1. Chemistry facilities for materials characterisation and synthesis

The Cumbria Innovations Platform enables your business to engage with Lancaster’s cTAP (Collaborative Technology Access Programme) building, facilities and expertise. Annexed to the newly refurbished Department of Chemistry, this £11.4M new build offers technology and space exclusively for industry collaboration. Dedicated Project Scientists and Engineers operate state of the art equipment, allowing businesses to resource their analytical R&D requirements and accelerate product innovation.

The building is host to £7M of analytical equipment, offering particular strengths in the fields of chemical and materials characterisation and analytical techniques.   These include:

  • Magnetic Resonance
  • Mass Spectroscopy and Separations
  • X-RayMicroscopy and Nanofabrication

2. Energy facilities

We also have particular expertise through our research centre Energy Lancaster. Within the laboratories of Lancaster University, there are profound battery testing services, not only to help your business identify the best solution for their “duty cycles” e.g. number of charges/discharges per day, and at what rate, but also to further optimise the operational strategies of a chosen system towards best performance and lifetime.

3. Engineering design, build and testing, including 3D printing capability

We can offer between two-weeks and two-months of specialist support on mechanical housing and enclosure design, design for manufacture, physical/virtual prototyping and potential application of utilising 3D printing for product and/or process improvements.

We can also deliver productivity improvements, feasibility studies, simulation such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)/Finite Element Analysis (FEA), physical testing, conceptual design or proof-of-concept work. A strong emphasis is placed on engineering design, helping manufacturing SMEs utilise the technical skills and resources of the Engineering Department to introduce new products.

4. Physics facilities including materials characterisation and quantum technology to support the development of photonics and 2D materials

Lancaster University’s Department of Physics and Quantum Technology Centre allow businesses to engage with world class facilities featuring state-of-the-art nanofabrication and measurement equipment. Our Project Scientists and Engineers can offer access to a wide range of nano- and micro-scale analysis equipment and techniques including:

  • Cross-sectional analysis techniques to investigate the internal structure of your products
  • Microscopy techniques investigating sample geometry, nanomechanical, nanothermal and nanoelectrical properties
  • Optical characterisation of materials via Raman and Photoluminescence spectroscopy

In addition, we offer support for the advancement of innovative new products using novel single layer (2D) materials with unique characteristics. Pioneering work at Lancaster University led to the development of simple transfer techniques, which can be used to apply large areas of these materials to surfaces and interfaces covering a wide range of products. These coatings alter the optical properties of devices they are incorporated into, improving performance and/or functionality, and have a wide range of applications such as smart glass windows, security devices and optoelectronics.  

What is the process?

Our experienced Partnerships and Business Engagement Team will work with you to understand your challenge and identify the right facilities needed to progress your innovation.

We can offer short pieces of consultancy work (15 hours) up to longer-term (several months) and may result in various outcomes, from the production of detailed reports identifying potential technology applications within existing SME processes, to diagnosis of needs and co-development of working prototypes using facilities at Lancaster’s Quantum Technology Centre (QTC) (or C-TAP) and testing in the field.

Who will deliver it?

Our dedicated Project Scientists and Engineers will work with you to diagnose requirements and prescribe technological solutions drawing upon a comprehensive suite of equipment and facilities. Engagement across project teams at the two universities will maximise the breadth of support available to you. Technical staff will be supported by academic expertise, undergraduate talent and research teams.

Project Examples

  • Consultancy support to SMEs considering the use of battery energy storage to supplement on site renewable energy generation
  • Smart glass within the built environment, including the ability to better control lighting and climate of interior space in modern buildings
  • The use of optimal coatings for colour conversion in LEDs and lasers, to increase the versatility of those devices
  • Using unique optical signatures as ‘fingerprints’, supporting applications in tagging and identification
  • Micro- and nano-scale analysis of products to determine their physical properties and internal structure, aiding the  development of new improved devices and technologies

Benefits of the Cumbria Innovations Platform

  • Access a unique combination of expertise and skills
  • Reduce the risk of research and development
  • Speed up innovation
  • Support the development and commercialisation of new products
  • Accelerate growth in innovative Cumbrian businesses

What else is on offer?

Practical masterclasses to shape innovative business ideas

Catalyst Innovation Programme

Bespoke digital consultancy to exploit data and technology

Contact us

If you have any question or want to speak to one of our team, please email or call:

James Livsey+44 (0)1524 510332 to find out more about digital product development

Jane Hunter +44 (0)1524 593 632 to find out more about the Innovation Catalyst

Sarah Allison+44 (0)1228 888 733 or to find out more about our innovation masterclasses & events, innovation coaching and student research placements

Chris Lambert+44 7814 076610 to find out more about the scientific facilities on offerWe look forward to talking to you.