NCC to support spin-out company that designs machine components to survive in harshest conditions

17 January 2020

The National Composites Centre (NCC) is supporting a University of Bristol spin-out company in its next phase of development in addressing the problems of high-servicing requirements of machines in the marine, mining and offshore industries.

Actuation Lab has received a £300,000 grant from Innovate UK, which - alongside private investment - will help the company to take what is a lab-proven technology through to products ready for industrial trials. They will now be co-located with the NCC, giving them access to the materials, facilities and expertise they need to develop their components further. 

Dr Simon Bates, CEO at Actuation Lab, said: “Up to this point we have received fantastic support from the University of Bristol and the SETsquared network. Bristol is an amazing hub for emerging technologies, and we are excited to move to the National Composites Centre to begin tackling the next stage.”

Leah Rider, Technology Programme Manager for SME Projects at the NCC, said: "The NCC is thrilled to work alongside and host Actuation Lab – one of our local university spin-out companies - in one of our flexible workshop spaces. Being co-located will provide Actuation Lab with a wealth of composite materials and process expertise right on their doorstep as and when they need it. The use of lightweight, corrosion resistant composite materials enables these innovative actuators to operate in the world’s most extreme environments whilst heavily reducing installation and through life-servicing costs."

Actuation Lab was founded by Dr Simon Bates, Dr Michael Dicker and Dr Tom Llewellyn Jones who previously completed PhDs in the Bristol Composites Institute’s (ACCIS) Centre for Doctoral Training.

The team went back to first principals to invent new kinds of machine components designed specifically to survive in the world’s harshest conditions.

They came up with the idea for their rugged, servicing-free components after recognising the astronomical maintenance and servicing costs associated with operating machines in corrosive conditions.

Things started to move forward for the trio when they were awarded 12 months’ SETsquared membership in December 2018 after pitching at the University’s New Enterprise Competition.

Dr Bates was then awarded an Innovate UK Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research ICURe) grant to explore the potential of the new technology with wider industry.

Pictured left to right: Tom Llewellyn Jones, Michael Dicker and Simon Bates with some of their technology 


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