Cranfield University has been awarded further funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA).

The funds will be allocated to academics to develop the impact and commercial potential of projects until March 2020. Academics are encouraged to seek matched funding for their projects, with a particular focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Dr Sandra Messenger, Knowledge Exchange Manager at Cranfield University, said: “There are many academics across campus whose projects would benefit from this funding so we aim to allocate up to £50,000 to each, to ensure backing to a variety of projects. The funds will be used for activities leading to the commercialisation of outputs, as well as secondments into or from organisations to develop end uses.”

A previous recipient of IAA funding is Professor Keith Rogers, who is leading research into the development of Focal Construct Technology (FCT), a next-generation x-ray screening technology, in conjunction with Nottingham Trent University. Professor Rogers said: “Funding like this from the EPSRC is fundamental in translating research from the laboratory into the real world. The IAA enabled us to expand our research from focusing predominantly on aviation security into the area of medical diagnostics.”

FCT will, for the first time, be able to quickly and precisely identify the material of any suspicious object using x-ray diffraction. The scanner can identify the presence of hidden explosives or illegal drugs in real time and is being developed further to examine bone density measurements. The technology has been targeted towards the security, medical and process control industries, although new solutions continue to be developed.

FCT is being exclusively developed for commercial applications by HALO X-ray Technologies Ltd, which is a spin-out company, part-owned by Cranfield University and Nottingham Trent University.

Launched in 2012, the IAAs aim to support the early stages of research by enabling scientists to turn research outputs into commercial propositions. The latest round of funding saw £60 million being added to the established scheme to support 33 universities across the UK. The scheme has invested a total of £95 million, which coupled with a further £370 million from collaborating partners has enabled 97 companies to form and over 770 prototypes to be developed.

Members of the Focal Construct Technology research team
(L-R) Professor Keith Rogers (CU), Dr Simon Godber (Halo X-ray), Professor Paul Evans (NTU)

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.