From Science and Technology Facilities Council: “UK start-up meets manufacturers’ need for speed in new product innovation”


From Science and Technology Facilities Council

24 June 2019

Wendy Ellison
STFC Communications
Daresbury Laboratory
Tel: 01925 603232
Wendy Ellison

For chemical manufacturing companies, speed to market for developing, testing and improving product formulations is critical against a tough, highly competitive market environment. Access to high performance computing can drastically speed up time-to-market, but is a complex process and can be a daunting task without an in-house specialist.

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Formeric Infographic. (Credit: Formeric)

Eco-friendly cleaning products and fuels, more sustainable crop protection products and breakthrough personal care products – these are just some of the consumer and industrial goods that will benefit from this capability. Company needs can be very different, but they all have in common the need to understand the ingredients they use as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Now, UK start-up company Formeric is meeting this need for speed with a revolutionary cloud-based app that puts supercomputing into the hands of manufacturers to develop new products, with no supercomputer specialist required.

Formeric is a spin out of the world leading expertise and supercomputing technologies of the Hartree Centre, part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

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Located at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, at Sci-Tech Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region, the Hartree Centre’s key mission is to transform the UK industry through high performance computing, data analytics and artificial intelligence technologies.

Daresbury Laboratory at Sci-Tech Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region

Formeric’s platform application, which connects to the Hartree Centre, enables manufacturers and materials scientists to use the latest high performance and cloud computing technologies to accurately predict the behaviour and structure of different concentrations of liquid compounds. It will also show how they will interact with each other, both in the packaging, throughout shelf-life and in use. It means that a single simulation can be requested in seconds, helping researchers to plan fewer and more focussed experiments, reducing time to market.

STFC’s Dr Rick Anderson, a founder of Formeric, said: “STFC, through its Scientific Computing Department and Hartree Centre, is well known for its expertise in modelling and simulation that can be used to benefit UK companies competing on an international scale. Formeric has been a few years in the planning since concept, so I’m thrilled that our cloud-based app is now ready to speed up design processes and reduce manufacturing costs. The resulting advances in materials chemistry will bring significant benefits to consumers, the environment and the wider economy.”

Dr Elizabeth Kirby, Director of Innovation at STFC, said: “Manufacturing companies are seeking to embrace digital technologies more and more in their efforts to deliver increasingly efficient and profitable products in a global market. Formeric can now provide these companies with valuable access to supercomputing capabilities, without the need for the specialist skills, in their efforts to embrace digital transformation. I’m excited that we have harnessed the commercial potential for digital transformation from our innovative research by creating this new business.”

Daresbury Laboratory is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Further information at the website.

See the full article here .

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STFC Hartree Centre

Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.