What we do and how we do it…

About Us

SPECIFIC was one of seven Innovation and Knowledge Centres set up in 2011 to foster new industries by closing the gap between scientific research and its commercial exploitation. The centre is based in the College of Engineering at Swansea University.

We work on energy technologies and systems, from the fundamental science of materials and products to full-scale demonstration on buildings. This all comes together in one design concept called Active Buildings, in which buildings are designed to generate, store and release their own renewable energy.

Our goal is the development of affordable technologies that can be manufactured at scale and re-used or recycled at the end of their life.

The challenge of affordable, reliable, sustainable energy for all

All over the world, people need access to energy to survive: for our homes, our livelihoods and transport.

Access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is vital for the health of our planet, and us.

Buildings are a huge part of this challenge: their construction and use accounts for about 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions; in the UK they consume about 40% of all the energy produced.

SPECIFIC and its partner projects are paving the way for decarbonisation of heat and power in buildings, both in the UK and abroad.


How We Do It

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Our unique and growing network of over 50 leading universities and companies – from multi-national corporations to innovative SMEs – is working together to scale-up technologies, develop supply chains and identify routes to market.

Within the centre and in our network, our unique mix of people comprises researchers, engineers, business development, engagement, IP and commercialisation professionals as well as architects and construction specialists.

Technology Scale-Up

SPECIFIC brings together world-class expertise in fields including photovoltaics, industrial coatings, thermal and electrical storage. As well as developing technologies ourselves, we help others to develop and prove theirs.

Our integrated facilities provide lab-to-line capability:

  • Laboratories and Cleanroom – opened in 2015 at Swansea University Bay Campus, our labs and cleanroom provide state-of-the-art materials and manufacturing research facilities.
  • Pilot Manufacturing Resource Centre – at Baglan Energy Park, Port Talbot, our pilot manufacturing lines are capable of delivering building-scale products.

Systems Integration and Building Demonstration

In order to reach market, new technologies and systems must first be proven. As well as developing the technologies, we are working on the systems that connect them: with each other in a building and with the wider energy system.

We do this in our demonstrator buildings, which are used to test and validate new ideas with a range of building uses:

  • Classroom – the Active Classroom, which is used by students at Swansea University, contains a number of new and experimental technologies
  • Office – the Active Office is used by SPECIFIC staff and was built using only commercially available technology.
  • Warehouse – the Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator is an exclusive test facility used to test a range of heat and electricity systems at scale.
  • HomesActive Homes Neath, in partnership with Pobl Group, provides sixteen homes for social housing tenants in Neath.

Partner Projects

SUNRISE is an international project to address global energy poverty through the development of next-generation solar technologies.

The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) provides industry led postgraduate research training in the areas of advanced materials and manufacturing. The program offers 24 EngD places and 8 MSc research places per year along with part-time PhD and masters.

Materials and Manufacturing Education Training and Learning (Metal) is an industry demand led project aiming to up skill people in the field of Advanced Materials and Manufacturing through the provision of short, 10 credit courses at level 4 and above.

The Steel and Metals Institute are an open access centre delivering innovation through partnerships. Our mission is to create a 21st century steel and metals industry, building strong links between academia and industrial partners and facilitating collaborative relationships between our members.

The SUSTAIN project aims to deliver cutting edge science and the engineering research required to create carbon neutral, resource-efficient UK steel supply chains. We can enable UK manufacturing sectors to deliver world-leading resilient solutions for tomorrow’s transport, energy and building needs, whilst overcoming societal waste and energy challenges.

ATIP is a £6M Programme Grant led by SPECIFIC and Swansea University, in close collaboration with Imperial College London and Oxford University, funded by EPSRC. The main objective is to deliver the underpinning science and engineering to drive the uptake of next generation organic photovoltaics and perovskite photovoltaics into integrated applications of clear technological need.

FLEXIS (Flexible Integrated Energy Systems) is a £24 million research operation designed to develop an energy systems research capability in Wales which will build on the world class capability that already exists in Welsh universities.

Sêr Solar was devised in response to the Welsh Government’s Sêr Cymru programme, established in June 2013 to strengthen research capability in Wales. The £50m scheme sought to attract leading international scientific talent to prestigious new research chairs at Welsh universities. The programme has now come to an end but you can read about its achievements here.