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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L016281/1
Title: EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids
Principal Investigator: Armes, Professor SP
Other Investigators:
Lidzey, Professor D Hopkinson, Professor N Leggett, Professor G
Rimmer, Professor S Haycock, Professor JW
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AKZO Nobel BASF Cytec Engineered Materials Ltd (UK)
GE (General Electric Company) GEO Specialty Chemicals UK Ltd L. B. Foster Rail Technologies
Lubrizol Ltd Nuplex Resins BV Ossila Ltd.
Philips Proctor Group Ltd Scott Bader Company Ltd
Syngenta Synthomer Ltd
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 April 2014 Ends: 31 December 2023 Value (£): 4,138,920
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomaterials Complex fluids & soft solids
Materials Characterisation Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Chemicals R&D
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 Oct 2013 EPSRC CDT 2013 Interviews Panel M Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) is in the field of Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids. This area of science deals with long-chain molecules, gels, particles, pastes and complex fluids. It is of fundamental importance for many commercial sectors, including paints & coatings, home & personal care products, agrochemicals, engine oils & lubrication, enhanced oil recovery, biomedical devices & drug delivery. Thus substantial EPSRC investment in this industrially-relevant field will directly support the UK economy and enhance its competitiveness over the longer term, as well as contributing to our scientific capacity to address important technical challenges and major societal problems such as sustainability and energy security.

Sheffield Polymer Centre academics have a wealth of research experience in the areas of polymer chemistry, polymer physics, colloid science, soft matter physics and polymer engineering. This breadth of expertise is unique and is certainly unrivalled anywhere in the UK. Between us, we offer a superb range of research facilities and state-of-the-art instrumentation that provide excellent postgraduate training opportunities. We have also run a popular annual industrial training course and three relevant taught MSc courses for many years. Thus the logistical experience of our current administrative staff and existing teaching infrastructure will provide invaluable support in running this new CDT. Moreover, this prior activity underlines our institution's deep commitment to this important interdisciplinary field.

Our vision is to engage closely with a wide range of companies, e.g. AkzoNobel, Lubrizol, P & G, Cytec, Synthomer, Scott Bader, GEO, Wellstream, LBFoster, Philips, Ossila, Syngenta, DSM, Ashland, BP and Unilever, in order to provide the next generation of highly skilled PhD scientists with high-level technical skills, intellectual rigour, excellent communication skills, flexibility and business acumen. This is essential if we are to produce the creative problem-solvers that will be required to tackle the many formidable technical and societal challenges now facing mankind.

Our ambition is to secure at least £2.0 million from our industrial partners in order to support fifty CASE PhD projects over five years. Six PhD studentships p.a. (i.e. thirty in total) are requested from EPSRC, which will be supplemented by a substantial institutional contribution of three studentships p.a. (i.e. fifteen in total). This institutional commitment is in recognition of the continuing strategic importance of this research area to the University of Sheffield. An additional studentship p.a. (i.e. five in total) will be funded by top-slicing the enhanced CASE contributions from our industrial partners to make up the annual cohort of ten students. EPSRC investment in this CDT is warranted given our substantial institutional portfolio of many active EPSRC grants (including Programme and Platform grants), plus a £2.0 M ERC grant.

Our CDT training programme will include the following highly distinctive features: (i) our unrivalled breadth of academic knowledge and experience; (ii) a choice of research projects for our PhD students prior to their enrolment; (iii) an initial two-week training course on the basic principles of polymer science and engineering; (iv) a monthly seminar programme led by industrial scientists to expose our students to a wide range of commercially-relevant topics; (v) a six-month secondment with the industrial partner in the latter part of the research programme, which will provide our students with invaluable experience of the workplace and hence prepare them for their industrial and/or managerial careers; (vi) a 'business enterprise' course led by an external consultant (Jo Haigh) and one of our industrial partners (Synthomer) to develop and encourage entrepreneurial flair in each PhD cohort; (vii) a visit to an overseas academic laboratory to facilitate international collaboration.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk