VLOG: Collaborating with Business at Research Level

In this Q&A vlog, we speak to SPECIFIC’s Innovation & Engagement Fellow, Silvia Villarroya-Lidon, about the work we do with business at research level – both in the UK and internationally.

Qu. 1: Please introduce yourself and your role within SPECIFIC (00:07)

Qu. 2: How does SPECIFIC work with companies at research level? (00:57)

Qu. 3: Could you give an example of a UK collaboration? (02:37)

Qu. 4: Can you also give an example of an international collaboration? (04:06)

Qu. 5: Get in touch (05:49)

Question 1: Please introduce yourself and your role within SPECIFIC

Hello, my name is Sylvia Villarroya-Lidon, I am the Innovation and Engagement Fellow at SPECIFIC.

My role is to look for engagement opportunities with industry and academic groups, both in the UK and also in Europe and globally to develop an established collaborative research projects in the area of photovoltaics.

I am also the program manager for an EPSRC funded program grant, ATIP. This project is a 6 million pound project to drive next generation of solar technologies into new applications. The project is led by a SPECIFIC and Swansea University and is in partnership with Imperial College and Oxford University.

Question 2: How does SPECIFIC work with companies at research level?

So over the last ten years SPECIFIC has had many interactions with industry in a wide range of sectors. SPECIFIC has the funding to work with companies and support them in many different ways.

I am most involved in the interaction with companies at research level and, in particular, in the area of photovoltaics. In this sector, we had many connections with companies across Wales, in UK and also in Europe and other countries like Brazil and India.

Our approach with companies is to work in partnership and establish collaborative projects, this can be with research contracts or as a part of a funded project.

For academia, is very important to align the research priorities with the current needs, not only from a technical perspective, but also from a commercial point of view – so the feedback from companies is extremely important for us.

Additionally, we can support the companies with a range of skills, expertise and facilities that help them to speed up their technology development and also the market integration.

We like to establish long term strategic relationship with companies so sometimes this involves the sponsor of a studentship for three four years and, in most cases, it means that we do the application as mission of funding grants with the partners.

Question 3: Could you give an example of a UK collaboration?

A good example of a successful collaboration with a UK based company is the work we have done with Power Roll.

Power Roll is a company set up in Sunderland in the North-East of England and it has developed a new way to generate and store energy. Power Roll micro-roof technology platform enables a wide range of applications using their special electrode films.

We started the conversation with Power Roll about two years ago. They were interested to incorporate perovskites as the active layer in the electrode film, so we had many phone calls with both with the management team and a site visit from the senior research officer (they came to visit us in Swansea) and then finally, Power Roll agreed to sponsor a EngD student with Swansea University to look at the roll-to-roll perovskites coatings using the conductor flexible electrode.

In addition to this, Power Roll was very interested to link up with ATIP (the EPSRC program led by Professor James Durrant at SPECIFIC and Swansea University) So, we are now looking to incorporate Power Roll as an official partner for the project and strengthen the relationship with them.

Question 4: Can you also give an example of an international collaboration?

A good example of an international collaboration is our projects with Armor, a French company, so we work with Armor solar power film section.

Armor has developed a flexible and semi-transparent organic photovoltaic film that has a wide range of applications, so we initiated the conversation with Armor about three years ago and at that point Armor was very interested to work with us. They needed help to understand the performance gap between the lab scale devices and the scale up of the manufacturing of OPV.

And so, our research had significantly grown in this area and we had all the expertise and facilities to help Armor with the technical challenges.

So, Armor agreed to sponsor a collaborative research project covering some postdoctoral research time and consumables for the lab and, in addition, they also agreed to sponsor an EngD student for last year of his studentship.

We also asked Armor to be one of our industrial partners in the ATIP project and, since then, Armor has been a very active as our partner and they provide very valuable market assessment feedback for the project.

So more recently Armor has become very interested in indoor applications for PV, and this is an area that we are currently expanding at Swansea University and it is very relevant for us, so the progress of the work has gone very well.

Get in touch:

So we are always looking for more collaborations for partnerships, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can have a chat and see if we can do something together: S.Villarroya-Lidon@Swansea.ac.uk

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