Call for Proposals: Laser Based Production Innovation Projects

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes is offering funding for innovation projects in the field of laser-based production processes.

The Centre is looking to fund TRL 1 to 3 research in the identified themes (see scope of the call). The innovation projects should examine a subject area in the scope, review activity in it, identify key challenges and research questions not currently being addressed and develop full proposals for funding by established routes. It is expected that innovation projects will develop preliminary data and or demonstrate experimental methodologies as well as undertaking the necessary desk research. Innovation projects are expected to lead to significant new funding involving the Centre and attracting industrial support. Awards are limited to £50,000 at 80% FEC and to a maximum duration of six months.

Applications can only be submitted by academic and postdoctoral research staff at UK universities and associated research institutions.



The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes is one of 16 national research centres and was established in 2013. The key University partners are Heriot-Watt University, Cranfield University, University of Cambridge, University of Liverpool & The University of Manchester.  We have strong partnerships with a number of leading R&D organisations and global companies from the aerospace, photonics, electronics and manufacturing sectors. The Centre’s vision is to exploit the unique features of laser light to unlock manufacturing innovation and deliver ground-breaking industrial impact in key areas of the UK economy.  This is being delivered by four main research themes:

There are increasing manufacturing applications for laser processing at micron-scale resolution, including material removal, surface and bulk structuring, joining and surface texturing, smoothing and polishing. Our research in this area covers the fundamentals of laser ablation and melt flow on the micro scale on a range of different materials using pulse lengths from the nanosecond to femtosecond regime.

Our ongoing research in this theme underpins the development of technologies and components crucial to the hardware supply chain for laser-based production systems. Our research efforts concentrate on a number of new laser device technologies that can address key laser-based processes. In our research agenda we also take on board the recommendations made in the UK Roadmap for Laser-based Manufacturing Applications, namely a significant reduction in ownership cost for industrial laser systems.

Our research in this area is focused on applying scientific fundamental principles to improve quality and efficiency as well as eliminating black art in a range of processes such as additive manufacture, welding, cutting and surface treatments.  For example our research will feed into improved powder bed technology, new laser-based additive manufacture processes, low cost laser peening and smart laser systems.

Real time control of laser-based processes is a key laser system goal, and techniques for sensing and monitoring of such laser-material interaction processes is a basic requirement to achieve reliable, flexible laser-based production processes. Our research addresses important aspects of the system design for specific laser machines (e.g. for additive manufacture, UV laser processing, joining, peening) to achieve cost effective manufacture and high-level performance.


The aim of the innovation projects is to provide a mechanism for researchers in the UK with innovative ideas to explore their potential to increase laser use in manufacturing. Ideas can be in areas of laser technology development, beam manipulation and beam delivery, laser material processes or process control. The resources and facilities of the Centre will be made available to support the innovation projects. Applicants are encouraged to work in collaboration with researchers currently engaged in the Centre, and with industry partners associated with the Centre. The collaboration could expand on the areas currently being addressed in the Centre or in new complementary areas.


Key dates

Call Launched 30 October 2015
Closing Date for Applications 10 December 2015
Grants announced and feedback given January 2016
Expected Start Date of Projects Februrary 2016


The maximum funding available for each innovation project is £50k at 80% of the Full Economic Cost. Academic institutions will be required to itemise bills based on 100% FEC and then invoice at 80% FEC. Grants will be offered up to a maximum of six months' duration however, longer projects will be considered if justified.


Consumables and equipment

A maximum of £5k for consumables and equipment can be included in a funding application.


How to apply

Innovation project applications should be submitted to Andy Rutherford, Outreach Officer ( They should be no more than four sides of A4 at 11 point font size. Proposals for innovation projects should include, but are not limited to, the following content:

1. Title, organisation and name of the PI.

2. Start date and duration.

3. Context, aim and objectives and benefit of the work.

4. A statement of the novelty of the proposed work including some evidence that it is not already being addressed elsewhere.

5. How will the work be carried out, who will do it and an outline project plan (Gantt chart).

6. How could further funding in this area be obtained (e.g. writing an EPSRC/TSB/EU grant proposal)?

7. What is the tangible deliverable of the innovation project?

8. Is there any industrial interest in this area or are industrial partners involved, and do the investigators have contact with them?

9. The track record of the applicants in this area.

10. A breakdown of the allocation of the funds with a short justification for each category is required. The categories are:

• Directly Allocated

• Directly Incurred

• Indirect Cost



1. You should include as a minimum the travel for one visit to a Centre University partner by the PI.

2. For each Directly Allocated Investigator please provide their name and the duration, total hours and the percentage of their time they will spend on the study, for example “Professor A Nother, six months, 41 hours, 5%”.

3. For all Directly Incurred Staff, please indicate the duration and percentage of their time, for example “Researcher assistant TB appointed, six months, 50%”


Assessment process

The Centre management group will consider the proposals received against the criteria below

•    Fit to centre objectives

•    Novelty

•    Impact

•    Balance of project portfolio

Preference will be given to proposals that are collaborative with at least one of the key University partners.

The management group will decide if a proposal is accepted, rejected or invited for resubmission and provide feedback as appropriate. 


For more details about the application process please contact Alex Peden at or on 0131 451 3041. Applicants are asked to consult with their respective university research offices in advance of submitting proposals to this call, and to be clear as to their institutional requirements in relation to meeting the deadlines for this call.