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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S023828/1
Title: EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Inorganic Chemistry for Future Manufacturing (OxICFM)
Principal Investigator: Aldridge, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Clarke, Professor SJ Weller, Professor A Goicoechea, Professor JM
Williams, Professor CK
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Boron Specialties Diamond Light Source Drochaid Research Services Limited
Econic Technologies Ltd High Force Research Ltd Johnson Matthey
Oxford Instruments Plc SCG Chemicals Co. Ltd Siemens
STFC Laboratories (Grouped)
Department: Oxford Chemistry
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 April 2019 Ends: 30 September 2027 Value (£): 6,277,876
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Chemical Synthetic Methodology
Co-ordination Chemistry Design of Process systems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Chemicals
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Nov 2018 EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training Interview Panel J – November 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The OxICFM CDT, centred in Oxford University's Department of Chemistry, and involving eight key industrial stakeholders, two STFC national facilities, and faculty from Oxford Materials, Physics and Engineering seeks to address a UK-wide need for the training of doctoral scientists in the synthesis of inorganic materials relevant to the future prosperity of the manufacturing sector. Chemical synthesis is a key enabling scientific discipline that allows humanity to maintain and improve its quality of life. Within the UK, the EPSRC's own data show that the chemical/chemistry-using sectors contributed a total of £258B in value-added in 2007 (21% of UK GDP), and supported over 6 million UK jobs. Manufacturing processes and future materials are highlighted as key technologies in the recent UK Industrial Strategy green paper, and the long-term skills demand for scientists to develop new materials and nanotechnology was highlighted in the UK Government's 2013 Foresight report. The EPSRC's prioritisation in the area is highlighted by (among other things) the recent Future Manufacturing Hubs call.

Future advances in societally critical areas such as petrochemical utilisation, battery technologies, semiconductors, smart materials, catalysts for chemical manufacturing, carbon capture, solar conversion and water supply/agro-chemicals are all underpinned by the ability to design and make chemical compounds and materials - to order - with custom designed properties. As an example, many technological developments in the last 30 years would not have been possible without Goodenough's fundamental work (carried out in Oxford) leading to the development of cathode materials for rechargeable lithium batteries - and ultimately to a $30B global industry currently growing at 10% per annum. We will exploit the uniquely broad range of excellence, innovation and multi-disciplinarity offered at Oxford by a critical mass of world-class researchers in this area (40+ faculty), to deliver a rigorous, challenging and relevant CDT programme in what is an under-represented area of graduate training. We believe that such a programme is not only timely and complementary to existing EPSRC CDT provision, but will address the national need for resilience, growth and innovation in key manufacturing sectors.

The 'art and craft' of inorganic synthesis as applied to manufacturing is necessarily extremely diverse. OxICFM will exploit a cohort model allied to training incorporating faculty-, industry- and peer-led components, to deliver scientists (i) with a broad spectrum training across the interface between inorganic synthesis and manufacturing, and (ii) with in-depth expertise in one specific stream (molecular, nano-scale or extended materials). This model is driven by a strong end-user pull, including a desire expressed on numerous occasions by industrial partners, to recruit doctoral graduates who not only have depth of expertise in one area, but who can also apply themselves to a broad spectrum of inter-disciplinary challenges in manufacturing related synthesis with greater effectiveness than 'standard' doctoral graduates. As expressed by our SME partners and highlighted in Econic's letter of support:

'(we do) not need lots more chemistry (post)graduates, we needed better prepared ones who could understand and adapt to working in industry more readily. I see a clear connection with the CDT intent and our own, and other scaling chemical businesses, needs.'

With this clear vision in mind, a central component of our approach is the integration of industry-led training from both larger partner companies and SMEs in order to promote a holistic understanding of cross-scale issues relating to different business models. We stress that our aim is not to add significantly to total post-graduate numbers in Oxford Chemistry, but rather to provide a different training package to those currently available.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk