New Materials Innovation Leadership Group set to deliver National Materials Innovation Strategy

A new Materials Innovation Leadership Group (MILG), Chaired by Allan Cook CBE, held its first meeting on 11 July. The MILG is being facilitated by the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials, under the direction of its CEO Professor David Knowles. It has been established to oversee and champion the development of a new National Materials Innovation Strategy that will tackle the major challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the UK.

The MILG is made up of senior representatives spanning a range of industry and key research organisations and will focus on requirements to expedite the translation of leading-edge UK materials science and research into the new products and services needed to address major policy challenges – such as net zero, health improvements and sustainable use of resources.

The new Leadership Group will champion the outputs and drive implementation plans, forming an alliance for materials that will provide opportunities to collaborate, to work with Government and above all, to grow the materials innovation pipeline.

Materials underpins manufacturing, and the UK is one of the largest global manufacturing nations, contributing £203 billion every year to GVA and supporting 5 million jobs. 84% of this manufacturing takes place outside of London and the South East. The importance of materials to the UK economy is therefore clear.

The Strategy development is supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), alongside the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), and will align with its recent Science and Technology Framework, which sets out the key actions needed to secure strategic advantage through science and technology,  pursuing the technologies that are most critical to achieving UK policy objectives.

Chair of the Materials Innovation Leadership Group, Allan Cook CBE said:

“I am delighted to have been asked by David Knowles and Royce Chair Sir Peter Gregson to Chair the Materials Innovation Leadership Group, which will provide an important forum for representatives from across the Materials Community to work together to develop a much needed UK Materials Innovation Strategy.

“The members of this Group are clear that our national materials innovation capabilities are a significant asset and that we urgently need a strategic approach to managing them. We want to ensure that the UK is fully exploiting the ground-breaking research that takes place in this country, and that it is more quickly translated into innovative materials solutions that can be used across multiple sectors.

“Materials affect every part of our economy – and materials innovation can help every market, supply chain or end-use application. There is much to do, however I’m confident that the newly formed group will determine the recommendations and actions which will ensure the UK has a world-leading position in rapidly expanding materials markets, substantially enhancing the value of some of the largest UK-based industries.”

Strategy Process

Following several months of consultation, the underpinning Framework for the Strategy has already been designed in consensus with the sector. Royce is currently selecting partners who will work with the research community in the coming year to develop both an econometric study and the wider underpinning evidence (under MILG guidance) necessary for scoping, definition and appropriate groupings of:

  • National and industrial sector priorities including trends and drivers, market needs and industrial sectors
  • Key application and process developments to which materials innovation can contribute via value-creation opportunities
  • Material innovations to support these applications and processes and further highlight needs for cross-sector collaborations
  • The associated non-technological supporting enablers including skills development

In addition, mapping the main elements of supply and value chains for key markets will enable the identification of value-creation opportunities and key material innovations that generate the most economic, societal and environmental value.

The strategy and its actions will continue to evolve into the future. The Leadership Group will continuously update it, reflecting the ever-developing nature of the UK’s materials innovation capabilities and ecosystem.

It is also anticipated that the new group will expand in the coming months, and will be supplemented by dedicated working groups focussed on the key value creation opportunity areas identified.

MILG Members

Allan Cook CBE – Chair

Allan Cook CBE, was Chairman of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult in March 2018.   Allan was a non-executive director and chairman of WS Atkins from September 2009 until 2017 when Atkins was acquired by SNC-Lavalin. He was chairman of Helios Towers plc until March 2018. He is a Chartered Engineer with more than 40 years’ international experience in the automotive, aerospace and defence industries. He was chief executive of Cobham PLC until the end of December 2009. Prior to this he held senior roles at GEC- Marconi, BAE Systems and Hughes Aircraft. He was deputy chairman of Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Limited until December 2015, and is a member of the operating executive board of J.F. Lehman & Company based in New York.

Professor Sir Richard Friend FRS, FREng,

Professor Sir Richard Friend FRS, FREng was the Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge from 1995 until 2020 and is Tan Chin Tuan Centennial Professor at the National University of Singapore. His research explores the electronic properties of novel semiconductors, currently carbon-based organic semiconductors and metal halide perovskites. These are used as the active component in range of semiconductor devices, including photovoltaic diodes, FETs, and LEDs, both to study their fundamental electronic structure and also to explore applications in display technologies and solar cells

Neil Glover FREng

Neil Glover FREng is Head of Materials Research at Rolls-Royce, based in Derby, and is a Fellow and current Chair of Trustees of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3). Neil has over 25 years of experience of materials engineering for aerospace and other high integrity applications. His current role is focused on materials technology to support new product opportunities in Rolls-Royce including electric and hybrid flight.

Dr John Grasmeder

Dr John Grasmeder is Chief Scientist at Victrex. He has over 30 years’ experience in the global polymers and advanced materials industries. He has worked in R&D, application development, marketing and business leadership positions at ICI, BASF and a number of BASF, Hoechst and Shell joint ventures in the UK and in Germany. In 2005, John joined Victrex and following many years as Technical Director, he became Chief Scientist in 2016.

Dr Caroline Hargrove CBE, FREng

Dr Caroline Hargrove CBE, FREng is CTO of Ceres.  Caroline has extensive experience in growing and managing technical teams in fast moving innovative environments and commercialising new technologies across a range of high growth sectors and applications. These include being a founding member and CTO of McLaren Applied Technologies, set up to exploit F1 technologies in other markets, CTO of Babylon Health and most recently as CTO at Zedsen, a medtech start-up.  She started her career as a lecturer in Engineering at Cambridge University.

Paul Jenkins

Paul Jenkins is Unilever R&D Director, Material Science, Beauty & Wellness and Personal Care Business Groups. He is the leader of the Material Science group across sites in UK, India and China which delivers proprietary technology and innovation to Unilever’s global business in Deodorants, Hair Care, Oral Care, Skin Care and Skin Cleansing categories. Before joining Unilever, Paul was an academic in Australia during which time he led both governmentally and industrially funded projects. He is a Chartered Engineer, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Professor Richard Jones FRS

Professor Richard Jones FRS is Vice-President for Regional Innovation and Civic Engagement at The University of Manchester.  Professor Jones, who is also the author of more than 190 scientific papers in materials physics is focussed on connecting the University to the wider innovation and policy agenda in the Greater Manchester region. He is already the independent science advisor for Innovation Greater Manchester. Before moving to The University of Manchester in 2020, he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Sheffield University from 2009 to 2016.

Professor David Knowles FREng

David Knowles is the Royce CEO and a Professor in Materials Engineering.  He is a specialist in material structural integrity of materials from extended roles in industry and academia covering sectors including nuclear, renewables, oil and gas, aerospace and transport.  He has held academic roles at Universities of Cambridge and Bristol and worked across Asia, Europe and the UK, with both SMEs and large companies including Shell and Atkins.

Ann Kramer

Ann Kramer is the CEO of Electrospinning Company, an SME developing and manufacturing biomaterials for medical device and regenerative medicine.  Ann spent almost 20 years working in a range of techno-commercial, international roles in agritech for ICI, Zeneca and Syngenta before 15 years in leadership roles with UK SMEs. Ann was on the Royce Strategic Facilities Advisory and is a mentor on the creative destruction lab programme and is an InnovateUK Women in Innovation ambassador.

Dr Wyn Meredith FLSW

Wyn Meredith FLSW, Director, The Compound Semiconductor Centre has 25 plus years of industrial experience gained at Ferranti, British Telecom Research Labs, Detica (now BAE), Sharp Research labs, IQE plc and Compound Semiconductor Technologies Ltd (now Sivers Semiconductors). Wyn is the founding Director of the Compound Semiconductor Centre, a Joint Venture between IQE Plc and Cardiff University, focussed on technology translation of R+D in compound semiconductor materials and devices. Wyn is a Founder Non-Executive Director of The Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, an Honorary Professor at Cardiff University, and Chair of CSconnected.

Professor Julia Sutcliffe FREng, FRAeS

Professor Julia Sutcliffe FRENg, FRAeS was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Business and Trade in February 2023. She works with the network of departmental Chief Scientific Advisers and the Government Office for Science to resolve cross-cutting issues and maximise cross-government insights. She is also Head of the Government Science and Engineering Profession at the Department for Business and Trade. She previously served as Chief Technologist at BAE Systems.

Professor Ian Youngs

Professor Ian Youngs has been a (senior) Fellow at Dstl since 2016, having been employed in defence research for over 30 years. Ian is a visiting professor in Physics at the University of Exeter. He is a strategically focused technical advisor to the MOD’s Advanced materials and Defence S&T Futures Programmes. Ian has acted as the sole expert witness to independent MOD panels for deep dive reviews of a Sovereign Capability (2018) and the status of metamaterials in the UK (2020), and has led the UK research base and government to recognise the importance of being internationally leading in the dual-use exploitation of metamaterials, as evidenced in the UK Innovation Strategy.

Royce is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and this project is part of Royce’s remit to enable national materials research foresighting, collaboration and strategy