Jonathan Duff in Lab

Royce awarded EPSRC Funding to support Research Technical Professionals working in Materials Science

The Henry Royce Institute is one of a number of entities set to benefit from a share of a new £16 million Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and UKRI Digital Research Infrastructure (DRI) investment to develop Research Technical Professionals (RTPs)

The funding support announced today is focussed on community-driven projects providing training and development for RTPs, who are vital to the effective operation of research infrastructure across the UK. RTPs have a vital role in deploying their skills and experience to support both academic and industrial research, as well as to train users in the latest techniques and methods. 

The Royce RTP-Led National Technical Platform for Materials Innovation will receive £1.3 million and will empower the RTP community working in materials innovation and associated manufacturing technology through training, development, and professional networking opportunities, as well as working to increase the visibility of RTPs and break down barriers between silos.

It is one of 11 projects which will benefit from the EPSRC’s extensive experience in supporting research software engineers, data wrangling, facility managers, and equipment specialists, as well as community development.

Professor Tony Horner Royce Chief Technology Officer (CTO), who leads on Royce Technology Platform capabilities said: 

“On behalf of everyone across the Royce Partnership who contributed significant time, energy and ideas to shaping this important programme aimed at supporting RTPs in the materials science community, we’re absolutely delighted that our proposal has secured this important EPRSC funding.

“Our vision is to create a National Research Technical Professional (RTP)-led technical platform to empower, share expertise and best practice, and break down silos across the technical community in advanced materials and we can’t wait to get started.”

Dr Nadia Stelmashenko, STO, Manager of the Royce Physical Vapour Deposition and Characterisation Facility and Royce Partner the University of Cambridge said:

“Royce is already a supporter of the Technician Commitment and is working to address some of the issues we set out in our proposal. However, we do recognise that there is a pressing need to coordinate and deliver a UK-wide RTP-led Technical Platform for advanced materials.

“We’re delighted to see EPSRC providing important funding opportunities to support training and development aimed at empowering the UK RTP community in UK universities and we’re ambitious that this platform will add real value by sharing best practice across the community and supporting national-level networking and peer learning.”

Professor David Knowles, Royce CEO said: 

“As the UK institute for advanced materials Royce is in a unique position in the research infrastructure to bring together a community of practice for all of the UK’s materials RTPs, not just those at Royce Partners. RTP team members both here and across the UK make major contributions to all our innovation endeavours – running experiments, offering insights and of course providing training to researchers.

“Importantly we work closely with a range of innovative companies which play a critical role in the career progression of the RTP community – and these collaborations will really support the aims of the New Research Technical Platform initiative.”

Jane Nicholson, Research Base Director at EPSRC said:

“Through these 11 new projects, the Strategic Technical Platform funding will help cultivate a thriving, dynamic, and vibrant community of research technicians.

This community will not only support and elevate cutting-edge research in the UK, but also foster a sizeable, highly skilled and esteemed research technician network. The UK is a world leader in high-tech research and development and it’s essential that we fully support the full breadth of skills needed for the workforce that deliver this innovation.”

The Royce RTP-led Technical Platform for advanced materials will pursue activities such as:

  • Technical training, workshops and masterclasses from experienced RTPs, equipment manufacturers, industrial and academic researchers who will develop advanced technical skills and support networking, peer learning and sharing of best practice.
  • The sharing of training materials in an open on-line space and upskilling of RTPs to prepare and deliver their own materials.
  • National user groups for informal peer advice and discussion on specific techniques and analysis of their data.
  • Engagement with equipment manufacturers via visits, short secondments and technique or experimental development feasibility projects.
  • Facilitation of RTP focused conferences and events providing opportunities for presenting and showcasing work, developing communication and networking skills, initiating collaboration in addition to raising the profile of RTPs to the wider materials research community.


Further information

About the Digital Research Infrastructure programme

The UKRI Digital Research Infrastructure (DRI) programme was initiated in 2020. UKRI’s constituent councils are working together to create a federated, interoperable, interdisciplinary portfolio of DRI to serve the UK’s researchers and innovators.

More information about the UKRI DRI programme can be found on the UKRI website.