SPECIFIC aims to address the challenge of low carbon electricity and heat by enabling buildings to generate, store and release their own energy, in one system, using only the energy from the sun.
Since Swansea University was founded at the behest of industry in 1920 there has been a rich tradition of partnership between academia and industry in the region. SPECIFIC is built upon these strong foundations, bringing together a wide range of partners to share expertise in functional coatings, energy storage, technology scale-up, business development and commercial know-how.
While our research teams work on the next generation of solar technologies, improving performance and enabling manufacture at scale, our building-integration team is already building full-scale demonstrators using existing technologies to prove the innovative concept works and to test it thoroughly.
Meanwhile, our commercial engagement teams are bringing together players from industry and government to enable our new technologies to progress to the market, and to discuss and drive change in the construction sector.
SPECIFIC is led by Swansea University, with Strategic Partners BASF, NSG Pilkington, Tata Steel and Cardiff University, and a wide range of business and academic partners.
It was one of seven Innovation and Knowledge Centres set up to foster new industries by closing the gap between scientific research and its commercial exploitation. The SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre was set up in 2011 with a £20m commitment over five years comprising grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK and the Welsh Government together with investment from Swansea University and its strategic industrial partners.
Now the SPECIFIC family of projects reaches much further: the momentum that the Innovation and Knowledge Centre created has allowed us to generate more than £40m of funding for allied projects in research and development, such as Sêr Solar, and in Swansea University’s Materials & Manufacturing Academy (M2A) training programmes.
In April 2016, SPECIFIC began phase two of the project with £26m in funding from the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, as well as further investment from Swansea University, the industrial partners and matched funding from Cardiff University.
SPECIFIC has four key sites in Swansea Bay, all sharing the same vision, brand and culture as part of an innovation ecosystem cutting across the TRL levels from 1 to 8. They include brand new, state of the art laboratory facilities, pilot production lines which can demonstrate and improve full-scale manufacturing processes, and full-scale building demonstration.
More than 100 people work on a range of projects that contribute either directly or indirectly to the buildings as power stations vision. They include university researchers, senior industrial scientists, product developers, business development specialists and an architect. This unique mix makes for a vibrant base from which ideas are shared, tested and developed into new products.
We have big ambitions for this unique approach to the capture and consumption of solar energy.
Our targets for our current funding package (to 2020) are to:
Alongside these, we are continually working with our partners towards a radical transformation in the world of energy and construction that will enable the wider adoption of low carbon buildings.
In the longer term, our vision is a new £1 billion industry with thousands of jobs and enhanced value in the construction supply chain – a market-driven approach that addresses one of society’s biggest challenges and provides secure, affordable, sustainable energy.
People and skills are key to the success of SPECIFIC. We recognise that our future – and that of the new industry we will create – depends on talented people to take ideas forwards. Through the Materials & Manufacturing Academy (M2A), SPECIFIC supports meaningful projects and provides guidance and inspiration for students from school age to doctorate level.
We couldn’t do any of this without the wide range of partners – including our large corporate partners and also our community of innovative small to medium sized businesses – who are working with us to scale-up new technologies, identify routes to market and develop core skills. The working relationships here are strong and mutually beneficial – some are built on close connections nurtured over many years whilst others are just beginning. For more information about our partnership opportunities, have a look at the Work With Us page.
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