Research intensive universities have state-of-the-art equipment which they want to share with each other, the research community and with industry – from anechoic chambers to wind tunnels, mass spectrometers to supercomputers. This would help to reduce costs and enable institutions to tap into relevant staff expertise.
What we're doing
Our vision is to work with the sector to develop services and standards that:
- Are interoperable and easy to access
- Help to streamline the equipment sharing process
- Embed asset sharing in institutional and research workflows
- Help the sector to evidence the progress it is making through asset sharing
We have focused on three key services: the national portal, Kit Catalogue and the HPC agreements, of which the equipment.data national portal has emerged as the main service to be taken forward and redeveloped.
This is a national portal that automatically discovers, harvests and aggregates data about institutional facilities and equipment across the UK. It offers an easy search interface to find and use a particular piece of equipment that may be located at another university or research institution.
Equipment.data was developed at the University of Southampton with financial support and oversight from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The existing service has been transferred to us, and we are exploring how it can:
- Become a sustainable national service, while helping institutions comply with RCUK policy requirements
- Deliver added value to the sector by making it easier to search and engage with institutional partners in sharing equipment
We are also:
- Working with researchers to create use cases and case studies to inform development of the service
- Developing connections between equipment.data and industry (eg National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) brokerage, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK)
- Exploring further development of analytics and reporting on the equipment available, use and sharing
About our previous pilots
We beta-tested Kit-Catalogue - an online system and mobile app developed by Loughbrough University with support from ourselves and the EPSRC. It can help organisations effectively catalogue, record and locate their kit, such as laboratory equipment, workshop machines and ICT tools.
The pilot took place over a two year period with ten institutions. We explored if Kit-Catalogue could make it easier for institutions to achieve efficiency savings through sharing facilities, both internally and externally.
The Kit-Catalogue databases set-up feed into the national equipment data portal - equipment.data - now the one stop shop for high-capital equipment sharing for research and industry.
Computer-based modelling and simulation is critical to businesses as diverse as high frequency trading, high value manufacturing and transport systems. However, there are enormous capital costs associated with setting up a high performance computing (HPC) centre and staff with the relevant expertise are difficult to recruit and retain.
We piloted work with HPC Midlands to provide access to £60m worth of UK's HPC expertise and facilities for research and industry. We also worked with Rolls Royce to facilitate collaboration around supercomputing facilities via the Janet Network.
Read more about equipment sharing on our blog. You'll also find links to recent case studies from researchers who have used or shared equipment, and a facility manager welcoming full utilisation of kit.
If you want to find equipment, just access the links above; or if you'd like to share your equipment, contact Caroline Ingram.
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