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Bespoke collaborations

Whether you are a small, medium or large-scale organisation, contact us to discuss your ideas, needs and how we can advise on the most appropriate route for each project and assist you in accessing the right research expertise.

Business Support

Our expert team specialises in particular sectors and services.  They will work with you through the process of collaborating with the University to make sure that we can provide what you are looking for and that you have a great experience. Learn more about the services offered by our Business Support team here.

Collaborate with us



Physics at Exeter is a vibrant and collaborative department, boasting world leading facilities centred on multidisciplinary research, where we can provide leadership, attract dynamic staff and secure new funding. We believe that excellence in research and impactful science comes from great networking.  Our long-standing experience in working with industrial partners in ICT, food, energy, energy and sustainability, healthcare, and defence & security sectors enables us to provide fit-for-purpose collaborations, adjusted to the needs of a variety of businesses, from SMEs to large companies.

Our core research areas are Astrophysics, Biomedical Physics, Electromagnetic & Acoustic Materials and Quantum Systems & Nanomaterials, and academics within those groups work with national and international academic and industry partners, through research projects, PhD studentships, and consultancy. For example, we have developed several new and important links to local SMEs, including working closely with local digital media companies (We The Curious and Engine House VFX) to develop hugely successful VR videos depicting exoplanet research which have allowed both companies to significantly expand. Our most recent and successful spin-out is Concrene Ltd (January 2019) which aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete industry using 2D material technology; Concrene Ltd has been shortlisted for an Innovation award by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and received £1M from investors.  Regionally we have strong links to the Met Office, and our academics are working with NHS consultants in new hospital-based physics labs are investigating novel directions in healthcare tech.  Our Centre for Metamaterials Research and Innovation (and its doctoral training centre) is strongly industry facing, working with partners across a broad range of sectors, ranging from defence, security, telecoms,  energy, and the food and beverage industries.

I really enjoy working with the CMRI at the University of Exeter who are always smart, pragmatic and realistic. By regularly interacting with academics and cohorts of students, we can build up understanding and working relationships that work both ways. So, rather than a linking to individuals (e.g. PhD student and/or supervisor), the link is to an evolving and communicative research group. This allows us to efficiently kick around ideas to set up work packages and research proposals (to match funding opportunities that come our way).

Dr James Dalley – Lead Engineer at Leonardo UK, Luton.

Collaborative research projects

These projects are ideal for a company who wishes to work on a research problem by jointly working with academics. Such projects may be co-funded in partnership with UKRI (e.g. STFC, EPSRC, Innovate UK). Formal collaboration agreements will set out the partners’ right to use the research outputs for future development and exploitation.

Contract research projects

These projects are commissioned by the industry partner and carried out by researchers in our Department. Deliverables will define the contracted work and a fee will be charged that fully covers the cost of the activities, and so that you own all new intellectual property generated.

Small-scale collaborative projects start at around £5,000, but contact us and we'll work hard to to provide an optimal solution for your budget.  But if you’re interested in collaborating on multiple research activities we can work out a partnership framework agreement that works for you. 


This is project work that suits a business that requires expert advice and input from the our academics to provide a solution to a particular technology problem.

Student projects

We are able to offer opportunities for our industry partners to engage in different types of student projects, including PhD funding and summer placements for excellent undergraduates.  The majority of our PhD students within the Centre for Metamaterials Research and Innovation are partly or wholly funded by Governmental or industry partners.  Please contact us if you wish to map out a project scope.  We are also interested to hear from any company who can offer student prizes, sponsorship of student events, scholarships, or can support a Year-in-Industry undergraduate. 

Alastair Hibbins is the Director of Business Engagament and Innovation for Physics and Astronomy, and Natural Science.  Please get in touch if you would like to discover more about our research and innovation 

Our priority as a manufacturing company is to apply our expertise and processes to sell composite components and structures. We balance this priority of business survival with our desire to innovate and explore opportunities – incorporated in our strategy of innovation through managed risk. Innovating is fun but a risky business for a small company as it diverts resource away from production activities, with no guarantee of return on investment – especially in the short term. Our commitment to innovating and novel ideas led us to contact the Prof Alastair Hibbins and his team at the University of Exeter. The team were very approachable and initial discussions were straight forward, enjoyable, and informative.

The team at Exeter were very open in their approach to problem solving and delivered theoretical and experimental results that exceeded our expectations (and those of the project). The outcome for TCS was a new product that passed all qualification testing and a physical demonstrator that we could show and discuss with interested parties. We also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to integrate physics with engineering and learn the fundamentals from experts in the field. TCS has been able to disseminate our work at conferences, UK Knowledge Transfer Networks, Special interest groups and social media channels. This has significant raised our profile as a small manufacturing company and led to ongoing projects and discussions with new customers. TCS has appointed new staff, received strong commercial enquiries and increased turnover because of our work with Exeter. 

Formed in 2016, Technical composite systems (TCS) is a small to medium enterprise based in south Devon UK. Managing Director Mike Sloan and the team provide manufacturing and design services to the international community using advanced materials and processes, primarily for the aerospace and defence sectors.