The past year has once again been a year of growth for the industrial user programme at Diamond. From across the globe 50 companies are making regular use of the beamlines, and increasingly the cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) facilities. The Industrial Liaison team are supporting around 250 different experimental sessions with industrial users each year, with the majority of users coming from the life science sector.
The growth in industrial usage by life science companies has been supported by the expansion of Diamond’s capabilities in this area and we are now able to offer a wider range of structural biology services than ever before. Recent developments in detectors and the latest generation of microscopes has meant that previously unattainable resolutions are now routinely possible through cryo-EM at Diamond’s Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC). This has resulted in an increased demand for the technology across both academia and industry. To support this growth, Jason Van Rooyen joined the team in May 2017 from the University of Cape Town as the Industrial Liaison Scientist for cryo-EM.
The XChem facility for X-ray structure-accelerated, synthesis-aligned fragment medicinal chemistry which has been established at Diamond in partnership with the Structural Genomics Consortium is also proving an attractive service for our industrial users. Several campaigns have been conducted through the service; with demand outstripping supply, a parallel facility has been funded for industrial users. This will allow us to provide more timely access to our clients to allow for quicker feedback into their drug discovery programmes.
A successful industrial consultancy between Diamond and FMB Oxford Ltd, an established leader in the supply of beamlines and beamline components, has developed mechanical systems that can accurately bend long X-ray mirrors to a range of useful ellipses. On several occasions, FMB Oxford have successfully exploited this metrology service, including the recent tests of their newly developed two-moment actuator systems for elliptical bending of long X-ray mirrors which have been published in Journal of Synchrotron Radiation.
Recent experiments have shown that well-controlled crystal nucleation can be obtained using low power ultrasound but fundamental studies in this area are lacking and this is where the project aimed to gain deeper understanding (Fig. 2). In order to measure and understand the nature of this effect the team used simultaneous Small Angle and Wide Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS and WAXS) on the Small Angle Scattering and Diffraction beamline (I22) to test many different types of candidate molecules such as waxes, fats, fuels and oils, model pharmaceutical and agrochemical molecules in a specially created acoustic cell. Schemes such as A4I are invaluable to micro-SMEs such as Lewtas Science & Technologies as they give small companies the opportunity to better protect their IP and get to the market much quicker.
Building on the success of A4I, Diamond has joined STFC to further support UK business productivity and growth as part of the government funded Bridging for Innovators (B4I) programme. The four-year programme run by STFC will provide access to the world leading large-scale science facilities at Harwell, Daresbury and the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh covering a wide range of analytical techniques and exploiting their expertise and capabilities. The aim is to increase growth and productivity throughout the UK by helping organisations overcome product, manufacturing or process performance challenges. The Industrial Liaison team has participated in a number of briefing sessions across the country to enable organisations to explore the potential of the programme and discuss their requirements. We look forward to welcoming participants of the programme in the coming months.
As well as growing the industrial programme here at Diamond, the Industrial Liaison team has been active in a number of international collaborations. Within the EU, the team participates in CALIPSOplus, a project funded through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. The grant provides funding for marketing activities where the light sources can join forces to have a greater impact on the European industrial science community and also for SME access to the facilities.
Further afield, the team have been awarded funding via the Newton Fund. The Newton Fund’s aim is to develop science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of collaborating countries. The grants awarded to the Industrial Liaison team are for projects in Thailand and Indonesia. For the Thailand project, the aim is to support the Thai synchrotron facility, SLRI, in the development of their industrial user engagement through a four year programme. In December 2017, the first activity under this grant took place in Thailand where a three-day workshop was held to demonstrate the importance of large-scale scientific facilities to business (Fig. 1). We were supported in this workshop by the British Embassy in Bangkok and by the participation of Peter Dowding from Infineum and Paul Collier from Johnson Matthey who both spoke about the importance of Diamond and access to large science facilities to their research.
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