Two days: Keynote speeches, presentations from Industry leaders, and breakout academic seminars on a range of cutting edge areas.

Download the Conference programme pdf

Details of the 2 day conference programme are listed below. If you are keen to be involved in the 2020 event, please contact

Day One Monday 12th March 2018

Doors open for delegates 

Registration, VIP tour of exhibition / networking


Plenary Session 

Chaired by Sue Dunkerton OBE, Director, Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)

Formal Opening by Rt Hon Lord Haskel of Higher Broughton

Keynote Speakers: Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, CEO, Innovate UK
Prof. Philip Nelson CBE, CEO, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Rebecca Endean, Director of Strategy at UK Research & Innovation (UKRI)

More names to be announced!


Industry Q&A
chaired by Stuart McDill freelance 
broadcaster & 

MRE Question Time Panel Discussion with Andrew Hosty, Henry Royce Institute; Duncan Fitzsimons, Director, 7TH Design & Invention; Dr Bryan Allcock, CEO Group, TRL9 Limited; Jacqui Murray, Head of Advanced Materials, Innovate UK; Deirdre Fox, Director Strategic Business Development, Tata Steel; Prof Leela Biant, Academic Head of Dept Trauma & Orthopaedics University of Manchester.



Tour of exhibition & networking

SEMINAR STREAM A (Location - Auditorium)
14.00 – 15.45

Disruption, innovation and the Royce

Facilitated and chaired by Regius Prof Phil Withers, Chief Scientist, Henry Royce Institute  

Growth in the materials industry in the mid-20th century was driven by substituting traditional materials with new ones, such as plastics - but the focus has now shifted from substitution to the creation of bespoke materials with tailored functionality. This ability to deliver unique materials has disruptive potential that could drive the type of innovation we perhaps thought was impossible just a few years ago. This is therefore our chance to ask ‘what if …?’

What if 2D materials could make products faster, stronger, smaller and lighter? How would our world look and perform? What if we could reduce our reliance on antibiotics through the use of advanced biomaterials? What if our mobile devices featured a safer battery with three times the energy density and 10 times more charge? A panel of selected champions from across the Royce will highlight exciting visions of how advances in their research themes will help tackle the grand challenges we are all facing.

16.00 – 17.30

Exhibitor Pitches 

Chaired by Ajay Kapadia, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Knowledge Transfer Network

MRE18 exhibitors will pitch live on stage to showcase their innovation. A fast paced introduction to the newest of materials innovation - designed to present cutting-edge innovation across key supply chains through different sectors. Please do come and connect.

SEMINAR STREAM B (Location - Room D)
14.00 – 14.45

Materials for Aerospace Challenges 

Led by Mark Summers, Aerospace Technology Institute 

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) was established as a collaboration between Government and industry; to create the UK’s aerospace technology strategy, advising and challenging the sector through £3.9 billion of secured R&T investment, to ensure the UK retains its global competitive position. The Institute’s mission is to help the UK realise the opportunity available of capturing a valuable share of the growing global civil aviation market.

The session will focus on civil aircraft material challenges that are being addressed through the current research portfolio or have been identified as key opportunities for future investment. The session will identify architecture requirements that impact material choices through whole aircraft efficiency, performance, and operating cost targets. Additionally, industrialisation aspects will be analysed with respect to optimising production efficiencies through the smart application of materials and processes.

Panel members include: Billy Beggs, Engineering Innovation Manager, University of Central Lancashire; Mark Bowering, Chief Technologist, National Composites Centre and Robert Deffley, R&D Manager, LPW Technology Ltd

15.00 – 15.45

Composites for automotive applications – innovating towards market acceptance

Chaired by Innovate UK 

A panel of industry experts will present and discuss the topic of automotive composites including current state of the market, recent innovations and achieving market penetration at scale. 

Panel members: Alan Banks, Commercial Vehicles, Ford; Paul Gallen, Sector Lead Automotive, National Composites Centre and Kevin Lindsey, Technical Director Far-UK.

16.00 – 17.30

Materials for Defence Challenges 

Led by Laura Jones, Consulting Fellow, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) ensures that innovative science and technology contributes to the defence and security of the UK. Dstl delivers, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence Chief Scientific Adviser, the Materials for Strategic Advantage (MSA) Programme.

This session will provide an introduction by the MSA Programme team to the niche defence challenges being tackled through investment in Materials Research and Development. However, many developments addressing these important defence challenges will also have civil applications. This session will provide an insight into some of the projects supported with MSA funding which also have exploitation opportunities in civil applications.

SEMINAR STREAM C (Location - Executive Centre)

Materials for Efficient Energy Use

Facilitated by Robert Quarshie, Head of Materials, Knowledge Transfer Network

Recent advances in materials research and innovation are expected to revolutionise the way we create and use energy.  In this session, we will cover two key initiatives that demonstrate the contributions of materials research and processing technologies to solving the energy trilemma.

1.   Buildings as Power Stations - Speaker: Kevin Bygate, CEO, SPECIFIC IKC

The concept of ‘Buildings as Power Stations’ offers the UK a unique global opportunity to create cutting edge buildings that generate, store and release solar energy. When integrated with Electric Vehicles as storage medium, it reduces grid stress, energy infrastructure investment costs and makes a critical contribution to decarbonisation. The concept is based on integrating smart materials into the building fabric.  Creating Buildings as Power Stations will transform the energy sector by delivering the smart, energy positive building we need for our future.

2.   Flash Sintering: A Disruptive Technology - Speaker: Dr Andre Prette, Technical Manager, Lucideon

Flash Sintering is a disruptive technology where an electric field is directly applied to a material body during the sintering process, with the aim of reducing the sintering time and peak furnace temperature, and controlling or enhancing the sintered materials properties. With particular application to ceramics, the presentation will highlight examples of progress in developing processing at lower total energy; significant increases in throughput and thus higher productivity; improvements to functional performance – fracture toughness, elemental retention and the joining of dissimilar materials.


Robotics Challenges - Material Solutions?  

Led by Phil Williams, Knowledge Transfer Network  

Intelligent machines are increasingly being used to augment the skills of people working in some of our most challenging environments. Whether the extreme radioactive conditions of a nuclear power station, the highly corrosive and intense pressures of the deep sea or even the sterile precision of an operating theatre, robotics with AI enables us to work safer, quicker, faster, smarter and better than ever before.

The demands placed on these intelligent machines are often beyond the capability delivered through traditional solutions. Challenge holders and innovators are therefore increasingly turning to the materials world for lighter, stronger and more intelligent materials in order to build the robotic tools of tomorrow.

In this session we will explore the particular challenges faced by industries working in challenging environments and how new materials could help create new products that will further augment human capability.

Speakers include: Adrian Davis-Johnston, Head of Research, Development and Innovation, Nuvia Consulting; Kaspar Althoefer, Director of Advanced Robotics, Queen Mary University of London; Kevin Blacktop, Research & Development Specialist Network Rail and Mark Gaddes, UK/European R&D, Network Rail.


Nanotechnology & 
2D Materials

Facilitated by Tatiana Correia, Knowledge Transfer Network 

HiPerNano2018 is a forum which brings together nanotechnology solution developers and end-users with engineering challenges to solve. This year, this event will showcase the latest developments and innovation in nanomaterials, which promise to revolutionise the way we create and use energy. Who should attend? Engineers, manufacturers, researchers and students, SMEs and large companies.

Speakers include: Simon Donell, Honorary Professor, Norwich Medical School; Toni Amorelli, Campaign Manager - R&D, QinetiQ and Monica Craciun, Professor of Nanotechnology, University of Exeter.

10.00 – 18.00

Exhibition and networking - all day


Evening reception
with canapes
& Prize Awards 

Awards for the poster competition and more!


Close of day one

Day Two Tuesday 13th March 2018

Doors open for delegates

Exhibition and networking - all day

10.00 - Welcome, Robert Quarshie, Head of Materials, KTN

Plenary Session

James Currer, Lead Specialist - Insights, Innovate UK

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF): Wave 3 Expression of Interest

Deborah Creamer, Director, Optimat Ltd

UK Advanced Materials Landscape

Innovate UK have conducted research onto the size of the materials sector in the UK.  This is important to help show the  value of the materials sector to help develop credible cases further support.  This session will showcase the results of that work, how the data can be used and will highlight key findings.

SEMINAR STREAM A (Location - Auditorium)
10.30 – 11.30

Women in Innovation

Facilitated by Tatiana Correia, Knowledge Transfer Network 

Men are three times more likely to own a business with employees and women in the UK are half as likely to start a business. Only 7% of British inventors on GB patents were women in 2000-2015. The Women in Innovation campaign aims to increase the current levels of women in innovation and entrepreneurship in the UK, and ultimately boost the UK economy by encouraging more diversity in business. This session will showcase role models in materials innovation, challenge perceptions and discuss barriers to engaging in innovation and how to overcome these.

Panel members include: Jacqui Murray, Head of Advanced Materials, Innovate UK and Sally Beken, Knowledge Transfer Manager – Polymers, Innovate UK.


Meeting the Faraday Challenge: 
Materials for Energy Storage

Moderated by Peter B. Littlewood, founding Chief Director of The Faraday Institution

The Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent national battery research institute, established as part of the government’s £246 million investment in battery technology through the Industrial Strategy. The Faraday Institution’s goal is to make the UK the go-to place and world leader for battery technology research and it has a clear mission to ensure the UK is well placed to take advantage of the future economic opportunities from this emerging technology.

This session will focus on the first four "Fast Start" projects funded by the Faraday Institution: extending battery life, battery system modelling, recycling and reuse, and next generation solid state batteries. Academic leaders from these four application-inspired fundamental research programmes will discuss the research challenges they face in order to increase energy density, lower cost, extend lifetime, and improve battery safety for the UK. 

On the panel: Peter B. Littlewood, moderator, The Faraday Institution: Neil Rowson, University of Birmingham; Greg Offer, Imperial College London and Ulrich Stimming, Newcastle University.


Overview of Current Support for Materials Research & Innovation

This session will cover current funding programmes such Innovation Loan, update on live Innovate UK competitions and an update by EPSRC. The opportunity will be taken to launch the outcome of the Optimat Landscape Study on Advanced Materials.

Nigel Walker: Innovation loans: manufacturing and materials readiness - Innovate UK has launched a £50m pilot programme of innovation loans for SMEs looking to scale up and grow through late stage innovation projects with a clear route to commercial success.  This session will highlight how innovation loans will work and provide an introduction to the current competition that focuses on manufacturing and materials readiness projects.

Jonathan Mitchener: New innovation funding from Innovate UK to enhance productivity and competitiveness: the A4I programme - The Analysis for Innovators (A4I) programme offers cutting edge R&D, expertise and facilities to UK companies that want to solve an analysis or measurement problem from within their existing business. This session will help you understand how to apply and what is involved in this unusual competition.

Sinead Balgobin: EPSRC Funding - We will show the possible routes for academics seeking materials funding in the UK.  The talk will provide an overview of current opportunities for both new and established researchers.

SEMINAR STREAM B (Location - Room D)
10.30 – 11.30

Accelerating innovation in the UK advanced coatings sector: Royce as a catalyst  

Facilitated by Professor Allan Matthews, Professor of Surface Engineering and Tribology at The University of Manchester and Director of BP International Centre for Advanced Materials.

Surface engineering and advanced coatings are vital to the success of the UK engineering and manufacturing industries with many products - from aero engines to razor blades - using treated surfaces to boost performance and gain competitive advantage. A report by the KTN-led Surface Engineering and Advanced Coatings Special Interest Group identified some clear strengths for the UK - but also called on the sector to move away from the “tried and tested” and adopt more innovative technologies. The Henry Royce Institute, says Professor Matthews, could be the ideal agent to support research innovations through the supply chain, bringing the coatings industry up to the level of the best High Value Manufacturing processes in terms of aspects such as digitalisation, rapid fruition of new coatings and improved coated-product performance.

Speakers include: Bryan Allcock, CEO, TRL9 Limited; Byron Tucker, R&D Manager, Tata Steel and Su Varma, Incubation Portfolio Manager, R&D, Pilkington (NSG Group).

11.40 – 13.00

Materials Cohort Presentations 

Facilitated by Dr Ellen Pope, Innovate UK

Selection of short materials cohort presentations from SMEs discussing their latest materials innovation. Meet the current and next generation of innovators, see the breadth of projects currently happening across the materials sector and the scope of innovation. Develop links within the supply chain and establish future collaborations.


Advanced Materials for Growth

Facilitated by Richard Gunn, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Join some of the leading researchers in the UK to discuss the latest in advanced materials research: from smart coatings to additive manufacturing, sensing to therapeutics, and much more. Hear short presentations from EPSRC’s cohort of Advanced Materials Fellows for Growth and join the discussion on how cutting-edge research is creating new opportunities for growth.

Speakers include: Alicia Kim, Senior Res. Fellow, Cardiff University; Andrew Bell, Professor, University of Leeds; Rachel Williams, Professor, University of Liverpool; Richard Trask, Professor, University of Bath; Tim Ashley, Professor, University of Warwick and Monica Craciun, Professor, University of Exeter.

SEMINAR STREAM C (Location - Executive Centre)

International Collaborations

Facilitated by Kalyan Sarma, Innovate UK & David Gardner, Knowledge Transfer Network

This workshop has the following three objectives:

  • To provide attendees with an introduction to the opportunities available within the Horizon 2020 programme for collaboration in the area of materials research.  This will be supported by case studies of recent successful applications to the H2020 programme from three UK organisations
  • To highlight selected activities taking place in the area of critical raw materials and their importance to business continuity.  Two case studies will be introduced as well as the importance of materials research that will lead to a successful low carbon energy economy
  • A short interactive session to provide some feedback on priorities for future collaborative research and a move to an integrated supply chain through the life cycle of products.

There will also be an opportunity for a question and answer session. During the conference, further information can be obtained from the International Collaboration stand, where further information will be provided.


Lifting the Non-Technical Barriers to Commercialisation

Chaired by Brian McCarthy, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Advanced Materials, Knowledge Transfer Network

At this session you will hear about the importance of a number of non-technical issues that impact the commercialisation of materials research and innovation. These include Standards, Intellectual Property and access to R&D tax credits. You also hear examples of how the relationship between academia and industry can help in commercialising materials research in the real world. 

Speakers include Craig Brownlie, Senior Associate Patent Attorney at Potter Clarkson; Katerina Busuttil, Standards Publishing Manager at The British Standards Institution; and Edward Owen, Director at R and D Tax Specialists Ltd.


Design for Materials Commercialisation

Led by MaDE Chaired by Ben Griffin, Design Lead, Innovate UK

Hear from the people who bring materials to life by designing innovative products - from medical devices and consumer goods to luxury cars and smart textiles. What role do designers really play in product development? How do they find and select materials? Could they help bring your new materials to market? 

10.00 – 15.45

Closed Session:
Short-Listed SMEs
to Pitch to
Investor Panel

Facilitated by Lynne McGregor & Nick Cliffe, Innovate UK

An investor-led process in which selected high-growth start-up businesses pitch in a private panel format to a panel of investors. Closed event.


Lunch /1-2-1 meetings 



Closing Address 

Keynote closing addresses by 

Simon Edmonds  Director of Manufacturing & Materials, Innovate UK

Chris Warkup, CEO, Knowledge Transfer Network

Prizes for Design for Materials Commercialisation Challenge. 


Exhibition Close