The ISIS Industrial Collaborative R&D programme goes from strength to strength!
16 Dec 2021



The ISIS Industrial Collaborative R&D (ICRD) programme was established in 2011 as a more flexible access route for industry to perform measurements at ISIS than the existing, recognising the different needs of industrial research.

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ICRD was set up to build​ long-term partnerships with businesses, providing a more flexible and tailored access mechanism for industry 
 and to engage with a diverse industrial user base, from spin-outs to multinational corporations. It also allows ISIS to further understand the economic impact of the research it enables, through a recent review.​

The key features of the programme are:

  • Beamtime is free at point of use
  • Beamtime may be obtained very quickly
  • Proposals are reviewed based on the potential economic benefit to the UK
  • The results remain confidential during the period of the experiment and the subsequent data analysis
  • The decision to put the results in the public domain or pay to keep them confidential is taken by the company after the experiment.

Since its inception 73 proposals have gone through the ICRD Programme from 46 companies. So far 3 patents have been filed and over 30 journal articles published in the public domain, however proposals within the last 3-4 years are not yet expected to be reporting publications, patents, etc. and so have not been included in these statistics. In addition several multiple access 'Framework' proposals, where companies access ISIS on multiple occasions have not yet reported.

The review came to the following recommendations:

  • The ICRD Programme is predominantly used by larger companies rather than SMEs. New promotion strategies will improve awareness of the scheme among SMEs, and to academic users who work closely with industry.
  • The tracking of the outcomes of the research should be improved. The time-lag from research to either publication or other outcomes is a common problem in assessing industrial research at large-scale facilities but a more regular framework of tracking the ICRD Programme proposals should be developed.
  • The link between the Facility Access Panels (dealing with Direct Access) and the ICRD Scheme should be improved so that proposals with significant industrial involvement coming in through other routes can benefit from the scheme.

The review backed up the findings of the independent Lifetime Impact Analysis of ISIS​, published in 2016 which analysed the economic and social impact of ISIS since its start of operation in 1984.

The Lifetime Impact report mentioned ICRD thirty times and its summary mentioned it ten times:

 “[The ICRD Programme] has broadened the use of ISIS by industry, and has quickly developed into the main route through which industry gains direct access to the facility. With the creation of the ICRD programme, industry has a more 'flexible' means by which to access the ISIS instruments directly."

“All ICRD proposals are required to include a description of anticipated benefits, and 15 of the 36 [as of 2016] proposals (42%) also attempted to quantify future benefits. For those who were able to quantify benefits, together they forecast more than £500 million in additional income or savings for the participating companies and their supply chains. In several cases, benefits are anticipated to accrue each year, many years into the future, suggesting that this group of current ISIS experiments may help secure or expand national economic activity by several billions over the next decade."​

For more information on industrial access to ISIS, please contact Chris Frost or Graham Appleby.

Download the full report here.

Contact: Fletcher, Sara (STFC,RAL,BID)