University of Nottingham’s aerospace programme commits £3.8m to SMEs

The University of Nottingham has awarded more than £3.8m in funding as part of its Aerospace Unlocking Potential (UP) programme, after announcing another round of funding for four Midlands-based businesses.

Designed to help smaller companies develop new technologies and solutions to make aviation greener, Aerospace UP, a £20m programme, is being delivered by the University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance (MAA), supported by the European Regional Development Fund and Midlands Engine.

The programme not only provides funding for projects but also offers small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with unique access to industry experts, academic support, and facilities that might otherwise have been unattainable.

Professor Pat Wheeler, Head of Power Electronics in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham, said: We are very excited to open the university up to businesses at this critical time where the industry has been affected by three waves of disruption – Brexit, COVID and climate change.

“With Aerospace UP, we have created a new and accessible way to offer innovation support to companies throughout the supply chain, who historically would not access the facilities and extensive range of expertise at the university. This is a pivotal time for the industry, and we hope that we can make a difference to the future prosperity of the sector, the region and the country through this initiative.”

Skyfarer, Assemtron, KITAU Robotics and Holscot Fluoropolymers now join more than 200 other companies from across the region that have benefited from the scheme, which is due to run until summer 2023.

Between them, the innovative companies represent the diversity of the broader aerospace industry, with the chosen projects working towards simplifying sensor data processing to make companies more efficient, saving lives by making drones accessible in remote communities, automating airport cleaning, and enabling satellites to be refilled in orbit.

Andrew Mair, chief executive of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the University of Nottingham to deliver Aerospace UP support to Midlands SMEs. The university undertakes world-class aerospace R&D, and for small companies to be able to access that knowledge within the programme is a major boost to our aerospace cluster.”

The new round of grants was announced during a signing ceremony at this year’s Farnborough International Airshow, where the university celebrated its most successful show to date, with more than 60 members of the Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Science in attendance.

Professor Serhiy Bozhko, Director of the Institute for Aerospace Technology (IAT) at the University of Nottingham, said: “This year’s Farnborough Airshow has been monumental for the university. We supported activities with the Midlands Aerospace Alliance and our industrial partners in addition to our own stand, where we displayed key research results across a portfolio of projects worth more than £75m.

“We also held three receptions celebrating work under our international network focussing on electrification (SAEL), Clean Sky 2, where we are the fourth largest participant across Europe, and confirming our commitment towards Net Zero Aviation. Additionally, our work was recognised externally by Collins Aerospace and Hybrid Air Vehicles, and we received a plaque in recognition of our work with the Aerospace Technology Institute.

“It has now been 13 years since the IAT was founded and each Farnborough Airshow we have attended over this timeframe has demonstrated a significant leap in the depth and breadth of aerospace research at the university.”