Clearing the conceptual hurdle to collaboration

John Downing

Technical Marketing Communications Specialist

mi-data-thumbnailOriginating from a research environment at Cambridge University, it’s in Granta’s DNA to collaborate with researchers, academics and other companies, and to enable such collaboration between other organizations.

But when I spoke to Dr James Goddin, who leads Granta’s collaborative R&D team, he said partners in collaborative projects can be initially reluctant to share data: “Sharing potentially sensitive or valuable materials knowledge with partners, and even with competitors, represents, for many, a significant conceptual hurdle.”

Aerospace

The HITEA consortium is exploring alternatives to Chromium 6+ in the aerospace industry by screening alternative systems and evaluating risks.

The value of collaboration is illustrated in the HITEA consortium, which was formed to identify alternatives to Chromium 6+ for the aerospace industry through the development of test methodologies and screening of over 160 systems for fundamental performance characteristics and legislative compliance. Granta enabled the project’s single, shared source of materials knowledge, through the use of the GRANTA MI™ software – it is used by 17 partners to capture knowledge on alternative coating systems and evaluate risks.

James explains: “In the HITEA project, by combining forces, each partner paid substantially less towards an inherently expensive and high-risk project whilst receiving the benefit of a much larger test program.”

Working with partners who push the boundaries of materials science to provide innovative solutions has made evident the importance of effectively managing project data and sharing the knowledge extracted from it.

In the Accelerated Metallurgy project, Granta’s ‘Virtual Alloy Library’ is key to the computational discovery and rapid evaluation of 25,000 unexplored alloy formulations. The geographically-distributed consortium synthesizes one alloy every 20-30 seconds, testing and characterising the alloys through a distributed partner network with significant standardisation of test methods and data representation.

James says: “In AccMet, unexpected synergies emerged. The project focussed upon the high throughput development of alloys for multiple sectors and applications with sharing of data across a consortium of 31 leading partners. By sharing the knowledge, some candidates deemed not fit for purpose for the intended user were instead identified as potential solutions for another. The willingness to share knowledge in one shared repository created opportunities that might otherwise have been missed by the project.”

MI Collaborate

 GRANTA MI:Collaborate is an easily accessible package for managing materials and process data within multi-partner collaborative R&D projects.

Building on our experience in these and other projects, we launched GRANTA MI:Collaborate™ (see August’s press release) – based on GRANTA MI, it is a cost-effective, easy-to-implement software package for managing and pooling materials and process data in multi-partner projects. Access control ensures efficient, secure data sharing based on the authorization level of participants, mitigating concerns about inappropriate data sharing. Industry-proven ‘schemas’ and templates help projects to hit the ground running.

Loughborough University is a project partner in HITEA. The Department of Materials’ Prof Gary Critchlow, Professor of Surface and Interface Science, said: “I have had the opportunity to use GRANTA MI as part of two major, multi-partner collaborations. It is extremely effective at data assimilation, handling and archiving, and for dissemination activities.

“In close collaboration with Granta staff, the bespoke schemas and data importers meant large amounts of project data have been successfully recorded and compared against technical reports and other databases. This ability to rapidly inter-compare relevant data has been invaluable in terms of evaluation and interpretation and has facilitated quick, accurate report generation.”

Take a leap over the ‘conceptual hurdle’ and embrace collaboration rather than competition.

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