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Networks will promote sensors and materials

01 February, 2006

Networks will promote sensors and materials

The UK Government has set up national programmes to develop and share knowledge about sensors and materials as part of its £40m Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTN) scheme, announced late last year. The KTN scheme supersedes the earlier Faraday Partnerships which for five years acted as links between UK businesses and the nation`s research base.

More than 18 KTNs are being set up to encourage industry and academia to work together to bring new products and processes to the market. Areas covered include fuel cells, displays, industrial mathematics, grid computing and photonics.

The sensors KTN is being managed on behalf of the DTI by Sira and the National Physical Laboratory. Its supporters include the IEE, Gambica and the Institute of Physics. One of its first activities will be to create a database of advanced instrumentation suppliers. The UK sensors and instrumentation sector is reckoned to be worth around £9bn in annual sales, and to underpin £50bn of activity in other sectors.

The sensors KTN is supporting a Wireless Sensing Interest Group which will explore the opportunities, applications, and deployment of wireless technologies, and subsequently inform the UK sensing community about the technology`s uses and benefits.

The Materials KTN, launched in January by Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Sainsbury, is the largest KTN. It will give users up-to-date information on materials properties, tell them where to get advice, and offer other services. It will have sections dedicated to various classes of material such as metals, composites, plastics, ceramics and smart materials.

Over the coming three years, the DTI will provide more than £11m to the materials KTN. The £200bn materials sector is estimated to contribute 15% to the UK GDP and to employ 1.5 million people directly, and to support another 4m jobs.

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