The long term aim of the EPSRC Centre in Ultra Precision is to create wealth for the UK by helping UK businesses in the ultra precision field to gain competitive advantage from the research and development work being done at UK academic institutions and research organisations. As such the outreach to industry is a vital element of delivering this goal.
The current industrial outreach is primarily centred around the free events, which are also part of the educational outreach. These are intended to enable UK businesses to learn about research and development activities, but also to network with each other and build up a UK supply chain network of ultra precision businesses.
One of the biggest obstacles believed to exist is that some businesses do not use the ultra precision moniker for their activities, hence may be oblivious to some of the business opportunities or research activities that may impact their future. The industrial outreach therefore includes visiting many UK engineering exhibitions to introduce the Centre and to explain directly to businesses how it may fit in with their current and future activities. Ultra precision is not a single vertical business; it encompasses multiple disciplines across mechanical, electronic, chemical and optical engineering for example, and has application in almost all market segments from space to medical devices, from large area surfaces to nano scale components. Reaching the businesses in all these fields will be difficult, but this is the aim of the outreach programme and groups on LinkedIn and the website are ways to enable easy access for businesses to discover what the field covers and to determine if their activities fall under the ultra precision umbrella.
Service provision for ultra precision is also being illustrated by using the website to provide a database of UK based ultra precision facilities. This will enable the ultra precision service sector to be visible to the rest of the UK ultra precision community and provide a good overview of the facilities available in the UK at large. This is another free service the Centre is providing to the ultra precision service industry.
Part of the medium term industrial outreach will include linking academic projects, relevant to existing UK business challenges, with businesses themselves. This may include students performing projects within the business, or businesses having their ultra precision problems solved by projects at academic institutions.