Charalampos (Harris) Makatsoris kicked off day 2, outlining the plans for the network over the next 3 years and highlighted the need for the network to be innovative and how it must do more with less funding. For reference, in phase 2 the network was awarded approximately £650K spread across 4 years and in phase three £250K has been made available for a duration of 3 years.
In phase three there will be two workshops per year corresponding to the three new challenge streams: directed assembly, disassembly, translation & scale-up; resulting in two per stream within the duration of the grant. Two sandpit meetings will also take place, one for directed assembly and one for directed disassembly, both with a focus on translation and scale-up.
Two proof of concept projects will be awarded to network members to explore assembly and disassembly focusing on possible translation routes into strategic applications. These awards will be highly competitive and are expected to lead on to full Research Council UK (RCUK) grant applications.
Three ECR ‘Dreams’ meetings and three industrial consortium meetings will be held, one of each per year. It was announced that one dreams meeting is already set for mid-2017 and will be held jointly with the Dial-a-Molecule Network.
Network sustainability is a key focus point for phase 3 and as such, a strategy and framework will be developed by which to collaborate and co-fund meetings from the outset. The network will also seek to leverage funds from industry, which will enable additional pump-priming awards to be offered.
Bob Docherty (Pfizer) gave an insightful industry-perspective describing how pharmaceutical materials sciences has evolved and been shaped by academia. This was followed by Chick Wilson’s futuristic perspective on life in the year 2060; showcasing the breakthroughs and achievements gained through the network’s continuous fostering of leading edge research, echoing the 50 year goals set out in the roadmap .
Chick Wilson described how the networks’ vision is greater than the sum of its parts and emphasised that scientists and engineers have much to learn from biology, which has had 4 billion years to evolve and get things right, chemists on the other hand have only had 400 years so far and continue to learn!