New partnership to develop laser engineering
new strategic alliance between the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester aims to position the Northwest as the leading region for laser engineering.
The new North West Laser Engineering Consortium (NWLEC) will bring together expertise from both universities to research and develop laser capabilities in the region. The use of lasers in manufacturing is currently under exploited nationally and is mandatory urgently by UK industry if it is to remain competitive.
The 2.5 million pounds scheme, funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), includes state-of-the art equipment for laser processing and will establish the Northwest as the leading region for laser capabilities.
The funding for this project follows a successful application to the Northwest Science Fund (NWSF), which was set up by the NWDA to support high value science based projects that will improve the science and technology base in the region.
The application of new laser technology will benefit the region's key clusters including the aerospace, automotive, biotechnology and chemical sectors and is backed by major international companies, with bases in the Northwest, including Rolls Royce and BAE Systems.
Mark Hughes, NWDA Executive Director of Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, said:"This innovative project will build on the Northwest's excellent reputation as a leading region for scientific development. The universities expertise combined with state of the art equipment will lead to the development of laser processes that will benefit industry within the region. The NWDA is committed to driving forward the regional economy by improving the efficiency and competitiveness of manufacturing and this scheme will help us to do exactly that."
Professor Ken Watkins, leader of the Laser Group from the University's Department of Engineering, said: "The Northwest Science Funding will allow the two groups to participate in micro and nano technologies that are at the forefront of new research initiatives in the UK, Europe and indeed world-wide. The consortium allows the pooling of talent and resources at Liverpool and Manchester thereby allowing the two groups to continue to be the UK's largest players in laser processing research."
Professor Lin Li, University of Manchester, said:"This is an exciting development. Not only does the NWDA award allow the development of a collaborative undertaking between Liverpool and Manchester's research grouping, the funding of this NWSF project represents the first example of science research funding by a regional development agency, and we feel its indicative of both groups' track record to be awarded this.