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Spinning-off companies from applied research

22 May 2017

Free Invitation to a Public Talk

Spinning-off companies from applied research


Professor J. A. McGeough, Senior Honorary Professorial Fellow,

SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING, University of Edinburgh

Wednesday, 22nd May 2017 from 6pm – 8 pm

BUiD Auditorium, 1st Floor, Block 11, Dubai International Academic City


Manufacturing industry in the 1970s and 1980s was stymied by lack of investment in new technology. The research councils and trusts turned to Universities to transfer their bright ideas and intellectual property into reality for the benefit of the economy and community. Pressure was put on them to transfer their research through start-up companies. In the early days, few academics had the training or business acumen to put their research into practice. Nowadays, solid support is in place.

The lecture will begin with describing how unconventional (electrochemical and electro-discharge) machining was applied to overcome the lack of manual skills in the die and mould industry. With microelectronics becoming the mainstay for many industries, the lecture will continue with describing how a University unit interfacing with industry was itself spun-off into a company that reached a $ 1 billion turnover.

A university seeking to justify the public funding of its research started up a company manufacturing spectrometers from use in the oil and gas industry to space exploration.The worldwide demand for alternative energy sources saw academic research in this area being transferred into a firm specialising in wind and wave energy.

PhD students working on smart materials saw the commercial opportunities for sports equipment (vibration-free skis) and set up a company, backed financially by their University who also ensured that they were supplied with the basic business training required. The expansion of their business has led to equipment for vibration monitoring for wind turbine companies through to basic machine tools.Research on Micro and Nano systems has led to production of the World’s smallest TV set and a company set up to market it.

An ageing world population has stimulated biomedical research into finding solutions to health problems ranging from laser bleaching of cataracts to new drugs to block Parkinson’s disease and leading to start-up companies supporting these initiatives.Finally the worldwide need for adequate food supplies has driven agriculture to spin-off companies to coordinate and drive forward the application of research in this area.

Throughout the lecture the question of engineering management its organisation, performance and risk will be highlighted.

About the Speaker:

His main field of research is manufacturing; his research outcomes are published in journals including the Proceedings of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Proceedings of the Royal Society, the Journal of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, and, latterly, in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. McGeough's books include “Principles of Electrochemical Machining” (1974), “Advanced Methods of Machining” (1988), “Micromachining of Engineering Materials” (editor, 2001) and “The Engineering of Human Joint Replacements (2013). He is the author of the entry on "Electroforming" for the Encyclopaedia of Production Engineering (2013), and a volume editor for “Comprehensive Materials Processing" (2014). The IMechE and the Society for Underwater Technology have awarded him prizes for his researches. He held a Royal Society/SERC (now EPSRC) Industrial Fellowship between 1987–89, and has been the director of three spin-off companies.

McGeough is a Fellow[3] of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the International Academy for Production Engineering, and the Royal Academy of Engineering.[4] He is a member of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. He has served as vice-president of the IMechE and chair of its Professional Publishing Board, and of its International Strategy Board. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Naples ”Federico 2”, Monash University, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, and Dublin City University. He is an Honorary Professor of Nanjing Aeronautical and Astronautical University.


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