CNIE awarded EPSRC “Frontier Engineering: Progression Grant”

26 March 2019

We are pleased to announce that the UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering (CNIE) has been awarded £750,000 of core funding from EPSRC via a Frontier Engineering: Progression Grant.

Launched in 2013, as one of five EPSRC “Frontier Engineering” Centres, the CNIE draws lessons from nature to engineer innovative solutions to our grand challenges in energy, water, materials, health, and living space. From the start, the CNIE has been structured around three research Themes (TX), each corresponding to a fundamental natural mechanism, or category of mechanisms, delivering desired properties: Hierarchical Transport Networks (T1), Force Balancing (T2), and Dynamic Self-Organisation (T3).

Thanks to core support via the new Progression Grant, the Centre will continue to explore novel, transformative, multi-disciplinary solutions to key engineering challenges, where mechanisms found in nature systems can deliver superior performance over traditional approaches. In addition, the Centre accelerates translation of its findings into practice, through a wide range of industrial collaborations and entrepreneurship.

The Frontier Engineering Progression Grant extends underpinning EPSRC investment in the CNIE until at least the end of 2021. Specifically, it will enable: exploration and validation of the NIE approach within a fourth Theme in Ecosystems, Control & Modularity (T4); further expansion of the CNIE’s approach to new application areas in built environment & design and biomedical & healthcare engineering, and development of (T3) in process intensification and energy; retention of core research staff, empowering and supporting them towards independent research careers; and continued translation of the CNIE’s work into practice through industrial engagement and entrepreneurship. For this, the CNIE can count on, respectively, a large network of industrial partners and support from UCL Business.

Collective, synergistic behaviour is pervasive in biology, from bacterial communities to termites. The new Theme (T4) will explore implementation of mechanisms that induce such behaviour, to propose nature-inspired control mechanisms, in applications ranging from catalysis to process intensification, and the built environment. A new Flagship Project will explore translation of core mechanisms to process intensification and manufacturing, while a further series of Inspiration Grants will expand the interface between chemical process systems engineering, computer science, genetics and biochemical engineering to build a strong, validated foundation for applications in other areas.

PI on the Progression Grant is Prof Marc-Olivier Coppens, Director of the CNIE, and Ramsay Memorial Professor and Head of Chemical Engineering. Theme Leaders are Prof Asterios Gavriilidis, Professor in Chemical Engineering (T1), Prof Nigel Titchener-Hooker, Dean of Engineering Sciences and Professor in Biochemical Engineering (T2), Prof Mark Miodownik, Director of the Institute of Making and Professor in Mechanical Engineering (T3) and Prof Eva Sorensen, Professor in Chemical Engineering (T4). In addition, Prof Marcos Cruz from the Bartlett School of Architecture will lead efforts on the Built Environment, and Prof Richard Day from Medicine will lead efforts on Biomedical and Healthcare Engineering.

CNIE awarded EPSRC “Frontier Engineering: Progression Grant”