Industrial collaboration

The School of Mathematics has a strong track record of collaboration with industry and other external partners. This ranges from helping you to find a suitable maths graduate, and final year projects with industry, through to research projects.

There are many mechanisms by which research collaborations can be initiated, such as the sponsorship of a PhD, through to a large-scale industry supported research venture. Information regarding the various types of collaboration conducted within the School of Mathematics and other common questions can be found here. In addition, the University has a range of Knowledge Transfer activities, designed to part-fund research between the University and industry. The Technology Strategy Board also run a number of Knowledge Transfer Networks, designed to enable UK businesses to compete successfully at the forefront of global technology and innovation.

Watch the video above for an overview of our Knowledge Transfer activity within the School.

Recent industrial collaborations within the School of Mathematics

Dyson logo

Collaboration between Dyson and the School of Mathematics at Manchester began with a six month shorter Knowledge Transfer Partnership (sKTP) project entitled ‘modelling the acoustic absorption properties of materials’.  This is an internship position, offering a PhD student the opportunity to engage in research of direct relevance to industry.  The sKTP was organised and administered by the Industrial Mathematics Knowledge Transfer Network.  

All Dyson products move air as part of their primary function. Getting air to move and then controlling it can be a noisy business.  Dyson sought academic input from applied mathematicians to aid the investigation of solutions which allow maximum acoustic benefit within strict design constraints.

Research and development at Dyson is often mainly experimental, thus the sKTP introduced a greater level of mathematical analysis.  The company now has a great enthusiasm for applying similar approaches in a wide variety of situations, and are continuing to work with the School.

As a result of this project, a new silencing strategy and a novel design methodology have been introduced to Dyson.

Considering the short term nature of the sKTP, the contribution to the company has been fantastic. There has been a genuine impact on our product development. We were lucky to find a brilliant candidate and the support from the University supervisors has been invaluable. We look forward to future collaborations.

Dr Hugh Hopper, Aeroacoustics Research, Dyson Technology Ltd

The project and the opportunity to work at such an incredible company as Dyson has been an invaluable experience for me. I have gained enormously in applying the skills learnt in my doctoral studies to real life problems. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and working with the team and look forward to returning after my PhD

Ruth Voisey, Applied mathematics PhD Student, University of Manchester

Project Team:

  • Prof. David Abrahams, University Supervisor
  • Dr William Parnell, University Supervisor
  • Dr Hugh Hopper, Dyson Technology Ltd, Industrial Supervisor
  • Dr Ludovic Desvard, Dyson Technology Ltd, Industrial Supervisor
  • Ruth Voisey, Intern
  • Dr David Allwright, Technology Translator, IMKTN

Using our imaging techniques, coupled with algorithms developed by the University’s mathematicians, Rapiscan was able to deliver the first baggage scanner (RTT80) capable of imaging luggage in 3D and in real-time. Whereas scanning often takes tens of minutes, reconstructing the data to form an image can take many hours and images require expert human judgement. Software has been developed capable of collecting data in 0.1 of a second, reconstructing it to form a 3D image and interpreting the image in terms of likely threats. It is now possible to scan and assesses at a rate of 1000s of bags per hour, providing Rapiscan with a competitive advantage.

Rapiscan already has several orders for its RTT80 systems. The University and Rapiscan won The Engineer Innovation and Technology Award 2010 for this work, and the project contributed to the University winning the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in November 2013, for its work in imaging techniques to support advanced materials and manufacturing.

The University of Manchester was the first to develop a new method of nonlinear statistical analysis which can be used to design efficient product development experiments. Global vehicle parts supplier, Federal-Mogul Friction Products, used this approach to reduce product testing by up to 88%, cut manufacturing time by 30%, and reduce variation in its braking products. New brake pads developed using this research are supplied with a variety of mainstream and premium brand cars for sale across the world.

Read more

Mondelez logo

Mondel─ôz sponsor a PhD research project that aims to analyse the effect of vibration on the redistribution of chocolate in various manufacturing processes.

Molten chocolate is a non-Newtonian fluid, a fluid whose viscosity decreases with increasing shear rate. Subjecting chocolate to vibration while it settles into moulds (or while it spreads on surfaces, as in the manufacture of the famous Cadbury's Buttons) facilitates the flow of the chocolate. The PhD project employs a combination of theoretical, numerical and experimental work to characterise the constitutive properties of chocolate and to analyse how vibration affects its flow.

Inventive logo

In 2010 we completed a KTA feasibility study into the revenue management of internet pre-booking systems. We have just been awarded a KTP grant to embed the capability to build revenue management systems inside Inventive existing technologies. Working specifically in the area of airport car park pre-booking, we hope to develop a commercial product over the next 3 years.

Tempus Energy is a startup company developing optimisation technology for the electricity supply industry. Through sponsorship of a PhD student at the School of Mathematics, Tempus is currently developing algorithms to maximise revenue opportunities from demand response involving both domestic and industrial electricity customers. The benefits of Tempus's approach include cost reduction in electricity supply and increased utilisation for generators of renewable power. In addition, Tempus is actively engaging with a number of partners including the School of Mathematics to develop further demand response revenue opportunities. The innovative approach taken by Tempus has been recognised with the award of a Smart Grant from the Technology Strategy Board.

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