Chemical Materials Design - Insight discussion into latest Chemical Materials Design technologies and the opportunities they present


Matt ReedStrategic Director Materials Innovation Factory (MIF), University of Liverpool

Time & Location

Wednesday: 15.00 to 15.30, Stage 2

About this presentation

Modern chemical materials design requires an integration of chemical insight, computation, and high quality experiments. This session will focus on lab work, which is essential for chemical materials design, and also remains a core value creating activity for organisations of all sizes across the chemical industry supply chain.

Lab work is not optional: it is how companies meet customer needs; create resilience in their activities; innovate; create competitive advantage; secure IP; guarantee quality of manufactured goods; and justify advertising claims. The majority of this lab work remains manual, yet the application of a range of digital and lab automation technologies offers significant opportunities to improve the efficiency of lab work. Improvements in lab efficiency can be taken as cost savings, faster time to market, quicker approvals, or better patents.  Current approaches to lab automation in chemistry have tended to focus on the development of large highly integrated platforms. These platforms require substantial capital investments to buy or build (£500K – £1M), and only fully deliver value if they are managed and maintained by a team of lab automation specialists.

In this talk I will describe state of the art lab automation and mobile robotic platforms developed at the Materials Innovation Factory which are fully modular, highly reliable, and relatively cheap. They are capital efficient because they can use existing lab spaces, and integrate many pre-existing pieces of lab equipment. For these reasons, this new approach can be deployed in many more settings than are possible with large integrated automation platforms.

Chemical Materials Design : insight discussion into latest CMD technologies and the opportunities they present.

Contributors: The Sir Henry Royce Institute’s Chemical Materials Design Theme and The Materials Innovation Factory (MIF), University of Liverpool

The Materials Innovation Factory (MIF)  is co-founded by the University of Liverpool and Unilever as part of the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) initiative, managed by UKRI Research England.

MIF is also a  founding member of the Sir Henry Royce Institute, the UK’s National Institute for advanced materials research and innovation, which funded some of our open access equipment.


Operating with its Hub at The University of Manchester, Royce is a Partnership of nine leading institutions – the universities of Cambridge, Imperial College London, Liverpool, Leeds, Oxford, Sheffield, the National Nuclear Laboratory, and UKAEA.

The Royce coordinates over £300 million of facilities, providing a joined-up framework that can deliver beyond the current capabilities of individual Partners or research teams.


Speaker Bio

Matt is a scientist, inventor and innovator. His role at the Materials Innovation Factory is to build high impact strategic partnerships with commercial innovators, leading-edge academic institutes, and government funding bodies. Matt has a technical background in chemistry, quantitative microscopy, and data science. He also has a long-standing interest in open innovation, which led to an executive MBA in Technology Management from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

Over the course of a thirty-year career in science and innovation, Matt has worked for Shell Research and Unilever R&D in both the UK and the Netherlands. He has published scientific papers, filed patents, co-authored three books, and co-founded three data / digital technology companies. He is a non-executive director of Coelition, an independent non-profit research and technology organisation which he co-founded in 2013. Coelition creates privacy-by-design technologies and open standards for recording human behaviour using Internet of Things devices (https://coelition.org/).

In June 2021, Liverpool University Press will publish University Partnership Playbook: How to Build Strategic Research Relationships by Matt and his co-author Joss Langford. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and lives in the North-West of the UK.