STC’s ability to “create impact” attracts The Open University

Silverstone Technology Cluster

28th February 2020

The Open University (OU) has become a member of the Silverstone Technology Cluster (STC) and will use its research to benefit commercial products.

The OU is the leading university for flexible, innovative teaching and world-leading research in the United Kingdom and 157 countries worldwide.

Its main campus at Milton Keynes caters for 4,000 people and since it was established in 1969 it has taught over two million students.

The OU comprises four main faculties: Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM); Business & Law; Arts and Social Science; and Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies.

Dr Jason Baverstock, Senior Manager for Enterprise and Commercialisation, commented: “We obviously carry out huge amounts of research but ‘creating impact’ – in other words ensuring the research benefits the economy and society – will help build our reputation for cutting-edge research.

“The Silverstone Technology Cluster is of great interest because it clearly can help us to create impact by linking the OU with organisations in both the public and private sectors and enable us to take the research we do and get it into commercial products.

“We are also looking to increase our engagement regionally across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc – the STC is ideally located within the ARC to link the OU up with commercial organisations.”

The OU has helped take the STC to 115 members (see separate story). STC CEO Pim van Baarsen said: “Welcoming The Open University as a member is a really exciting moment for the STC and the Cluster as a whole.

“The OU’s recognition of the STC’s connectivity and reach is a great endorsement of the network and its members, with which it seeks to collaborate. This strategic move will undoubtedly add value to the OU and to our existing members.”

Meanwhile the OU has already begun working collaboratively with the STC – in March it will jointly host a high-profile event exploring business opportunities in the Space sector.

The event will showcase research in the School of Physical Sciences which includes developing sensors that look deep into space or back down onto earth, and even pieces of equipment that can analyse the surface of comets. 

Dr Baverstock said: “We are keen to work with businesses in the STC to ensure these cutting-edge technologies and methods are utilised in downstream applications, thereby generating impact.

“For example, the research we have done to develop instruments to sniff out what chemicals are on the surfaces of meteorites is now being used for atmosphere monitoring on submarines. Our involvement with STC could lead to future innovative uses for this and other OU research.”

Elsewhere within the OU, the School of Engineering and Innovation is working on novel techniques of stress measurement, diffusion bonding and plasma deposition – another area where the research can be easily applied to commercial products.

Dr Baverstock added: “Although our partnership with the STC will revolve around the work we do in STEM, there will undoubtably be other opportunities across the University and we look forward to exploring these further.”




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