The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Hubs are four organisations tasked with undertaking world-leading research, deploying technologies with end-users and fostering collaboration and community within their fields of extreme environments. Those environments are space (FAIR-SPACE), off-shore (ORCA) and nuclear (NCNR and RAIN). With four brand new entities there with naturally be commonalities in approach coupled with sector-specific strategies. With a three-and-a-half-year programme for each Hub (Oct 2017 to Mar 2021), the governance associated with such an undertaking is an important part of the recipe for success.
On 7th March 2019 the four Hub PI’s and PM’s met with lead representatives from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI). These representatives are responsible for administering the funding associated with the Hubs and the wider ISCF programme. This meeting (the third of its type so far) was used to present the latest success stories from around each Hub. This was a great opportunity for Barry Lennox (RAIN PI) to share examples of where the institutions within RAIN had collaborated, creating new solutions for existing challenges in the nuclear sector.
Some of the collaborations so far have been:
- Bristol and Nottingham RAMEN / snake-arm combo
- Unknown room
- LAN, MAN underwater work
While sharing successes is helpful, as it shows that the relationships within and around the Hub are growing and creating helpful results, it’s also important to cast an eye to the future to ensure that the real value of the Hub can be capitalised upon. In RAIN we are particularly focused on the three sizeable challenge areas of ‘remote inspection’, ‘remote handling’ and ‘safety case’. The Hub Directors meeting gave the opportunity to check that our planned course for the RAIN Hub was of mutual benefit to the people responsible for the funding as well as those the Hub aims to serve.
It was very helpful to gain the endorsement from the funding bodies that the course for RAIN is a sound one. However, there always needs to be flexibility and an awareness that should particular work streams be irrelevant then the course should be corrected, resources deployed in different ways or work scopes changed so that the research, deployments and value is truly maximised. We will keep you updated on how RAIN progresses. The next key strategic meeting will be that of the RAIN programme management board in May. This group is formed of the Hub Director, Co-Directors, PM and leads from each member of RAIN. We will be having an in-depth review of our programme to see how best to tweak our work so that we can get the most bang for our buck.
It’s exciting times. We really love to share our progress with you and if you have any questions please do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.