Collaborative R&D

The Nuclear AMRC leads and participates in numerous collaborative research and development projects, supported by UK and international funding programmes.

We lead and collaborate in externally-funded R&D projects including those supported by Innovate UK, EPSRC and the European Horizon 2020 programme. These projects bring together the Nuclear AMRC, manufacturers along the supply chain, and other specialist research centres. They aim to address specific problems in high-value manufacturing, and deliver technical innovation and sustainable economic benefits.

We always want to hear from potential project partners. We have extensive experience in forming project consortia, preparing bids, winning funding, and successfully managing collaborative R&D projects. We can also bring our unique capabilities and resources for innovative large-scale manufacturing to projects led by others.

Current funding sources for collaborative R&D at the Nuclear AMRC include:

  • Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency, supporting R&D projects in a range of priority areas, with regular funding competitions to help companies develop new ideas. Programmes managed by Innovate UK include the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
  • EPSRC – the UK’s main agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC is principally funded by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and invests more than £800 million a year in a broad range of subjects.
  • Horizon 2020 – a European Commission programme to bring innovation to market. Horizon 2020 supports collaborative projects involving industry, SMEs and research institutions across Europe, and has a strong focus on sustainable manufacturing.

To find out more about working with us on collaborative R&D projects, contact Adam Bond, Nuclear AMRC business development manager:



Current collaborative R&D projects at the Nuclear AMRC include:

  • Amos – we are leading this €2.6 million, four-year collaboration between European and Canadian aerospace manufacturers and researchers, to investigate the use of additive manufacturing techniques for repair and remanufacturing. The project involves a range of additive technologies used by the partners, with the Nuclear AMRC focusing on wire-feed gas tungsten arc processes used in our bulk additive cell. Amos is supported by Horizon 2020 and Canadian funding agencies CARIC and NSERC.
  • Advanced manufacturing for SMR pressure vessels – a four-year collaboration with the US Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to develop new manufacturing and fabrication methods for reactor pressure vessels. The project aims to reduce the total time needed to produce a SMR pressure vessel from around two and a half years to less than 12 months. In the first phase, we are developing electron beam welding techniques for vessel sections made from metal powder using hot isostatic pressing. The project is funded by the US Department of Energy, and involves industrial partners on both sides of the Atlantic including Sheffield Forgemasters.
  • Innovative forging and fabrication solutions for the energy sector – a £4 million, 30-month project led by Sheffield Forgemasters to reduce the cost, lead time and embodied energy of large forgings. The project involves the production of large prototype nuclear components using a range of forging, forming and fabrication methods. We are providing machining and other process development support. Other partners include Rolls-Royce, The Welding Institute, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.
  • Coroma – we are working alongside our sister centre, the AMRC with Boeing, on this €6 million, three-year project to develop intelligent robots for a range of manufacturing tasks. Funded through Horizon 2020, the Coroma consortium includes 16 international partners from seven countries. We will demonstrate applications for large reactor components by combining a range of techniques on our Soraluce FX12000 machining centre.
  • Simple (single manufacturing platform environment) – integrating a range of technologies and operations into a single machine, reducing cycle time for large complex components. We are working with the Advanced Forming Research Centre, AMRC with Boeing, University of Sheffield physics department, TWI and Peak NDT, with £1.35 million project funding from BEIS through SBRI.
  • Inform (intelligent fixtures for optimised and radical manufacture) – tackling a range of challenges in producing high-precision fabrications. Partners include Sheffield Forgemasters, Cambridge Vacuum Engineering, MetLase, TWI and NPL, with around £1.1 million project funding from BEIS through SBRI.
  • Fit For Modules – developing the UK supply chain into a world-leading provider of modular manufacturing techniques for nuclear and other high-value energy sectors. The project is led by Cammell Laird, with partners including Laing O’Rourke, Arup and Frazer-Nash Consultancy, and funding from BEIS through SBRI.
  • Meactos (mitigating environmentally-assisted cracking through optimisation of surface condition) – reducing the risk of stress corrosion cracking in the primary circuit of light water reactors. The €2.5 million project is funded by Horizon 2020, and involves 16 partners led by Ciemat of Spain. We are focusing on the root causes of stress corrosion cracking in nuclear steels.
  • Gemini+ – developing a small modular high-temperature gas reactor for industrial co-generation applications. The €2.5 million project is funded by Horizon 2020, with 27 partners from Europe, South Korea, Japan and the US. We are leading a study on modular manufacturing and construction techniques for the proposed reactor.

Recently completed collaborative projects include:

  • Nnuman – £8 million, four-year (2012–16) EPSRC-funded programme led by The University of Manchester Dalton Nuclear Institute, with support from the Nuclear AMRC and National Nuclear Laboratory. Nnuman addressed new R&D capabilities to support the future needs of the UK and global nuclear industry, in areas including joining, advanced machining, near-net shape manufacture, and product performance.
  • McScamp – we led this €350,000, 18-month project to develop machining techniques to reduce the risk of component failure over a reactor’s lifetime. McScamp was funded by the European Nugenia programme, and also involved Areva and the Estonian University of Life Sciences’ Institute of Technology. The Nuclear AMRC studied the root causes of stress corrosion cracking in nuclear steels, and investigated advanced machining techniques such as dry machining and cryogenic cooling which can significantly improve surface integrity.
  • PowderWay – we led this €360,000, 18-month project, funded by Nugenia, to investigate powder metallurgy techniques for nuclear components. Partners included Areva, EDF, PNB, CEA and Swerea. PowderWay assessed the potential for powder-based processes such as hot isostatic pressing, additive manufacturing and spark plasma sintering in the civil nuclear sector, and established a strategy to move the most promising techniques into commercial production.

How it works

The process for a collaborative R&D project will vary depending on the source of funding and the exact nature of the research, but a typical company journey is outlined below. Project schedules can vary from a few months to several years, but we will support you through every stage.

1. Talk to us.
Help us understand your current capabilities and what you want to achieve, the problem you want to solve or the innovation you want to develop.

2. Identify funding
We keep track of new funding calls and opportunities from all the major funding bodies. If any match your interests, we will provide details as soon as possible.

3. Consortium building
Many calls require a consortium of companies and research institutions. We can identify potential partners from our network to meet specific requirements.

4. Bid writing & submission
You will need to provide technical information, detailed costs and a business case. We can manage bid writing, even if we’re not leading the project itself.

5. Contract negotiation
If we are leading the project, we will manage the formal agreements between the funder and consortium members, including IP issues. If you are leading, we can advise as required.

6. Project kickoff
The consortium meets to discuss detailed work planning and management. We can host the kickoff meeting if appropriate.

7. Regular project updates
We will arrange regular meetings and updates to discuss progress, share ideas, and ensure that all partners are delivering to schedule.

8. Project close & follow-on activity
We can manage final reporting, and support dissemination through our established communications channels. We can also discuss continuing collaboration to take the innovations developed during the project to the next level of commercial development.