June 25, 2019, by Rob Ounsworth
Entrepreneur in Residence to help foster culture of enterprise and innovation within Faculty of Engineering
The Royal Society has appointed its first Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Nottingham to accelerate work by the Faculty of Engineering in building stronger links with business, and increasing the impact of their world-class discoveries.
Peter Winton is a mechanical engineer whose 23-year career with Rolls-Royce included a long association with the faculty. He is one of 15 entrepreneurs, senior scientists and business leaders supported by the Royal Society to use their experience to help foster an entrepreneurial culture within universities and to support the research commercialisation agenda.
From 2008-2018 Mr Winton helped deepen partnerships between researchers and industry, working with Professor of Manufacturing Engineering Dragos Axinte at the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) in Manufacturing Technology.
Industrial perspective on invention and innovation
He said: “In my role as Entrepreneur in Residence, I will seek to provide the Faculty with an industrial perspective on invention and innovation, helping to engender a culture that supports business engagement and enterprise.
The post, funded by the Royal Society for two years, will allow Mr Winton to:
- share his experience of the scientific challenges faced by industry
- provide support and advice aimed at promoting innovation and the translation of research
- increase understanding of business and entrepreneurship among staff and students
During his tenure at the Rolls-Royce UTC, Mr Winton helped secure 30 patents from ideas generated by Rolls-Royce-sponsored research and development. The value and impact of the UTC’s success is also reflected in increases in the number of its PhD students and its budget: from a handful to 30 studentships, supported by an annual budget of more than half-a-million-pounds.
Mr Winton said highlights have included a Rolls-Royce best patent award for Professor Axinte’s ground-breaking solid-state device to steer a laser beam, which allows in-situ repairs to be made to aero engines and other sectors. Such robotic ‘mechanics’ are transforming jet engine maintenance.
Advances in superalloys, allowing lighter and more resilient engine components, is another world-leading focus for advanced manufacturing researchers at the University, he added.
“I am very much looking forward to this new role,” Mr Winton said. “My experience in the aerospace industry gives me a great knowledge of the way the industry works, and which industries in the sector are best to exploit IP and generate licensing income.”
“In the Faculty of Engineering we have very clever people making exciting discoveries, with unrivalled links with business and delivering outstanding results to Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Boeing, BAe and others. My role will help create an environment where researchers are more mindful of opportunities to generate income for the University from these discoveries, through licensing and spin-outs.
Protecting the value of our inventions
“I would regard myself as a businessman, not an industrialist; an ideas generator not someone who just follows process; and someone who can work with people in many different disciplines and institutions.”
At Rolls-Royce, Mr Winton designed and implemented technology and supply chain strategy for the improvement of its global tooling and fixturing operations and production processes. As a champion of working with researchers to deliver solutions to challenges in advanced manufacturing, he led a ten-fold increase in operations at the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Manufacturing in ten years.
Professor Sam Kingman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering, said he was delighted at Mr Winton’s appointment.
“Our researchers already collaborate and partner with some of the finest companies and institutions in the UK, Europe and around the world,” he said.
“Peter’s wealth of experience from outside academia will further encourage and remind us to make protecting the value of our inventions a part of our everyday thinking.
“Our vision is to be the first port of call for industries seeking ideas that will increase their productivity and bring revolutionary products to market. It will also allow our engineers at Nottingham to play a significant role in promoting the UK’s ability to compete in world markets as a hi-tech industrial nation.”