Major innovation opportunities in analytical science identified by UKAP

The UK Analytical Partnership (UKAP), now in its third year, has announced five prime areas for analytical innovation: biomimetic analysis, health sensors, managing the chemical environment, real-time analysis/factory of the future and analysis in design. UKAP will be staging a number of events in the autumn to enable input from parties interested in involvement with these projects.

Richard Bahu of the Oxis Partnership, co-author of this foresight study for UKAP´s Innovation Network with colleague Jonathan Gold, said: “We started out with a major stock take of key market and technology trends and drivers. This created a valuable “pool” of 98 innovation ideas. Within this pool are a number of areas which are already recognised as needing innovative approaches with significant support around the world, namely: high throughput technologies, new technique development, semiconductor production, and genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Consequently, while acknowledging the significant analytical input to these areas, we decided not to duplicate existing research and development efforts by pursuing these themes.”

He continued: “The five promising themes in our final shortlist have received somewhat less attention to date. We are keen to develop these proposals with others, our aim being to enhance the UK´s analytical capabilities, and to have positive benefits for the UK economy and quality of life.”

In detail, the five projects UKAP is progressing are:

Biomimetic analysis – Nature is often used as inspiration for innovation. Many types of analysis could fall within its scope. For example, dogs have extremely sensitive noses – could analytical science produce similarly sensitive techniques? Bio-terrorism, a major threat, is another area where biomimetic analysis could be vital. It is potentially the most challenging project of the five, requiring considerable research effort over a number of years and involving a wide mix of disciplines.

Health sensors – There is a need for real time monitoring of patients, which could involve “lab-on-a-chip” or other technologies. Additionally, the success of simple diabetic testing by patients themselves has demonstrated the potential for tests such as these to be carried out in pharmacies to take pressure off medical staff.

Managing the chemical environment – Primarily for indoor monitoring, whether at home, work or at a public place, so that any remedial action on health and safety grounds can be carried out rapidly.

Real time analysis/factory of the future – There is a clear need for increased on-line and at-line analysis of manufacturing processes, as well as increased automation in support of novel process technologies that could revolutionise manufacturing. This project could also examine environmental control of processes, purity of product, reduced use of raw materials, reduced amount of waste products, and energy efficiency of the process.

Analysis in design – Focusing on how analysis can be linked with design to create innovative solutions to problems or novel product and service concepts. This could be particularly valuable in the aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries. There is also the potential to develop electronics to enhance the performance of analytical equipment, creating safer, more responsive products, with possible adaptations into “fun” applications such as games and toys.

Anyone wishing to find out more about how to get involved in any of the above projects should express an interest by 30 September 2003 by contacting UKAP at:
email: ukap@lgc.co.uk, telephone: +44 (0)20 8943 7424.

A summary of the full report, “Identifying the major innovation opportunities in analysis” (Phase 1 of the UKAP Innovation Network Project), is reported in the Summer 2003 issue of “UKAP Update”

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