Lancaster China Catalyst Programme

Lancaster China Catalyst Programme
Lancaster-SoR-IntroLancaster University is working hard to exploit its global reach and international contacts for the benefit of UK SMEs, as well as the employment prospects of graduates, through innovative multidisciplinary projects such as the £5.1 million Lancaster China Catalyst programme.

This initiative is forging partnerships between UK and Chinese companies that involve graduate researchers working on collaborative research projects to develop products and services for global markets.

This programme is enabling UK firms to confidently expand into a new international market and is forecast to create 240 jobs within SMEs and boost the economy by £40 million.

One project that has resulted through the Lancaster China Catalyst Programme is a partnership between Nottingham-based Far UK and their Chinese partner Guangzhou Research Institute of Non-Ferreous
Metals (GZRINM).

The organisations are working together to develop the manufacturing technology of ceramic-based friction materials with fibre reinforcement for the braking systems of high-performance cars – to improve braking at high speeds.

In addition, Far UK, who now have a greater understanding of China after engaging through the programme, are hoping to develop a rolling chassis for cars that can be assembled locally within China using indigenous components. There is a target to create 10 satellite plants equating to £50 million turnover. This could lead to the creation of an additional 60 jobs at Far UK.

Lyndon Sanders, Director and General Manager of Far UK, said: “Without the programme Far-UK would never have been able to confront the challenges of doing business in China. With the programme the company has been able to approach the Chinese market with confidence. We now have research and development work on-going in China and a broadening network of commercial contacts.

“We have already conducted some commercial work in China and we believe we will shortly sign additional contracts. The impact of the programme has been to revolutionise our opinions of, approach to, and success in China.”

A Masters degree in International Innovation, run by the Lancaster University Management School, has been launched as part of the Lancaster China Catalyst Programme. The students work for six months at a time in each of the partner companies, supported via a tax free bursary of £16,000.

Joseph Lincoln, who is a graduate researcher undertaking the MSc in International Innovation and working on the Far UK and GZRINM project, said: “Through my course I have consulted for two companies, including FAR UK who design ultra-lightweight chassis for cars. FAR UK’s project has been research based and I have worked alongside engineers and business students to design a bespoke suspension solution and undertake user-focused market research. Overall the projects have run smoothly, with guidance from the China Catalyst staff and will come to fruition early March.

“I feel the course has helped me develop more than just design skills, I have learned Chinese, and I have experience in in multi-disciplinary and multi-linguistic team work. I have consulting experience with two companies both in the UK and in China. I feel it is these other skills and experiences I have added to my repertoire which will make me more employable.”

The project has secured research and development funding worth around £100,000 so far from the Guangdong Provincial Department for Science and Technology. The programme, which is part-funded by Lancaster University, the Higher Education Funding Council’s Catalyst Fund and Lancashire County Council, provides UK companies with dedicated support worth more than £70,000.
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