MICRA’s work was discussed during a visit by the government’s new Science Minister to the midlands yesterday.
On Thursday 27th February 2020, Amanda Solloway MP the government’s new Science Minister, made her first official visit to meet with scientists, technicians and entrepreneurs from the Midlands Innovation partnership.
The Minister visited the University of Nottingham, where she met with Professor Alec Cameron, Chair of the Midlands Innovation partnership, and other representatives from Midlands’ universities, to learn about the world-class research and innovation work taking place across the region’s eight universities.
The Minister took part in a roundtable with women scientists and entrepreneurs from Midlands Innovation partner universities. The wide-ranging discussion explored subjects including the vital role that women scientists are playing in helping to advance science in the UK, and also the challenges and barriers faced in recruiting more women into science careers in industry and academia.
Later in the morning, the Minister officially launched a new £5m programme for the development of technicians, in the university’s GSK Centre for Sustainable Chemistry called TALENT. Midlands Innovation has led the way in celebrating the vital role that technicians play in universities, and the funding for TALENT will build an understanding of the future requirements for skilled technicians in the UK’s HE sector through a national policy commission.
In the afternoon, Amanda Solloway visited the Research Acceleration and Demonstration (RAD) Building – a multi-million pound energy research facility funded by the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) which includes cutting edge laboratories for hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, materials analysis and compressed air energy storage.
She met with the director and senior academics involved with ERA – the largest energy research project in the UK. ERA is a £60m government funded initiative which has attracted a further £120m of industrial and university investment, and brings together over 1000 researchers from the Midlands Innovation universities and the British Geological Survey.
ERA has created new energy facilities across the Midlands, and also supports demonstration projects such as the Trent Basin community energy scheme in Nottingham and the Tyseley Energy Park in Birmingham.
The minister’s final visit of the day was to the Advanced Manufacturing Building, where she saw some of the work being done by the University of Nottingham to support manufacturing businesses through the use of state-of-the-art robotic technologies, and other advanced manufacturing innovations.
Speaking about the Minister’s visit, Professor Alec Cameron, Chair of Midlands Innovation and Vice Chancellor of Aston University, said: “I’m delighted that the Science Minister was able to visit us here in the Midlands today. We were able to talk to her about the innovative work being done across the region in our key themes of energy through ERA and, transport and health. She was also very interested in our initiatives for supporting entrepreneurs through MICRA, the development of technicians through our TALENT programme, and how we are combining resources to share the use of equipment.”
Professor Andy Long, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, said: “It was fantastic to be able to welcome the Minister to Nottingham for her first official visit, and to be able to show her some of the cutting edge research facilities we have. It was also good to be able to highlight the strengths of the Midlands region alongside our Midlands Innovation partners.”
Midlands Innovation includes eight partners – Aston University, the University of Birmingham, Cranfield University, Keele University, the University of Leicester, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and the University of Warwick. Together the partnership creates 95,000 jobs and brings together over 10,000 academics, delivering more than £10 billion GVA for the region and the UK.
Dr Helen Turner, Director of Midlands Innovation, added: “We explained to the Minister how, through our programmes, we are able to bring people together who can make innovation happen and develop new skills and expertise, delivering real economic value to our region. Through our work, we are able to help the government achieve its objective to put the UK at the forefront of science and innovation, and also achieve its aim to reach net-zero by 2050.
“We are very much looking forward to working with the Minister and her team in the department of BEIS over the coming years.”
For more information about the Energy Research Accelerator, click here.