Daresbury Lab director hails region’s strengths in innovation | Northwest Business News

Paul Vernon

The North West has some of the “best innovation assets in the country”, according to the director of the Daresbury lab, who spoke to Initiated about his future plans and how he seeks to keep budding scientists in the region.

The lab, part of the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus in Warrington, was established in 1962 and covers a wide variety of fields, including nuclear physics and supercomputing.

He also works in the space sector and has created instruments that have been used in more than 200 space missions.

Paul Vernon, executive director of business and innovation at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which runs the national lab, said the scope of work it covers is “remarkable”.

Vernon explained that the science is now “fully underpinned by state-of-the-art computing” and that the lab’s Hartree Center is one of the things that “really identifies Daresbury”.

The facility is the only supercomputing center in the UK dedicated to industrial applications.

“We are just starting to build a new supercomputing facility at Daresbury which will house the latest supercomputer,” Vernon added.

Previously, the lab was mainly used by academics and national research groups, but the facilities have now been adapted for industry to use as well.

As a result, companies influence the type of facilities that are created and made available.

In terms of work, Vernon said the lab has a steady stream of new projects “that can be used and adapted to solve other problems.”

Such projects often take between 10 and 20 years to complete, and in some cases, such as space, can even take 30 years.

Currently, the organization is working on a joint venture that uses its technology to break down ammonia into hydrogen that can power jet engines without releasing CO2 into the atmosphere.

Vernon said the government is now focusing much more on science and technology as a means of driving economic growth and, as the “North West has now become more innovative, it has become more integrated”.

“What we have in the Northwest is a massive, capable manufacturing base side-by-side with some of the best innovation assets in the country,” Vernon said.

“There’s a huge amount of assets, but they’ve all traditionally operated in isolation, but if you start looking at them together and joining the dots, you can see there’s a huge strength in the region. “

To go further, the laboratory plans to double the number of apprentices it welcomes and to welcome more graduates and doctoral students.

Vernon added that as long as the infrastructure is good it will be sooner to retain these people and less likely to lose them to other regions, adding: “We need to develop our own scientists and technologists who want to stay in the North West .”


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