Special Interest Groups

Special Interest Groups are Knowledge Transfer Network projects that focus our activity and accelerate innovation in cross-disciplinary topics of strategic importance.


Special Interest Groups

Special Interest Groups are Knowledge Transfer Network projects that focus our activity and accelerate innovation in cross-disciplinary topics of strategic importance.


KTN’s Special Interest Groups run for a number of years to achieve specific objectives, before being replaced by new, higher-priority topics. This year the portfolio of Special Interest Groups was reviewed and 10 Groups are now funded: Additive Manufacturing, Compound Semiconductor Applications, Energy Harvesting, Graphene and other 2D Materials, Immersive Experience, Quantum Technology, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, Sustainable Aviation Fuel, Synthetic Biology, and Uncertainty Quantification and Management.

KTN’s Special Interest Groups are time-bound activities that typically achieve their objectives over a small number of years and are then replaced by new higher-priority areas of focus. This year, the portfolio of Special Interest Groups delivered by KTN was reviewed with current groups assessed and new groups born, based against current strategic need. Following this process, 10 Special Interest Groups have been recently funded to be established or renewed:

Additive Manufacturing
Additive Manufacturing (AM) uses machines to create three-dimensional physical objects from digital data.

KTN brings together existing and potential AM users with organisations in the supply chain, materials specialists, digital businesses and designers.

Compound Semiconductor Applications
Compound semiconductors are made from two or more elements; their composition provides faster processing and operation at lower voltages compared to semiconductors such as silicon (used in internet and mobile phone communications).

KTN brings together innovators in this field with the end user community.

Energy Harvesting
Energy harvesting – or ‘scavenging’ – is the process by which energy is derived from ambient environmental energy. For example, in the rail industry the kinetic vibration from trains can power wireless sensing technology.

KTN gets more customers using existing energy harvesting solutions in a wide variety of sectors, helping businesses to reduce costs.

Graphene and other 2D Materials
Graphene is the world’s thinnest and strongest material applicable to many sectors. Its discovery has led to the development of a family of other 2D materials.

KTN disseminates industry news and events to drive awareness of graphene applications in energy storage, composites, wearables, electronics and coatings.

Immersive Experience
The Immersive experience comprises virtual reality (VR), where the user sees a computer generated image; and augmented reality (AR), where the user’s real world environment is overlaid with virtual objects.

KTN brings together industry, research, public sector and end users, helping the UK become the global leader in applications of immersive technologies.

Quantum Technology
Quantum technology uses complex quantum mechanics – the science of the very small – to create practical applications across many sectors, for example enabling computers to process faster and communications to be more secure.

KTN disseminates information on funding calls, news and innovation reports as well as promoting and running relevant events.

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering; artificial intelligence is the science of using computers to mimic human behaviour.

Through events, one-to-one innovation support and disseminating industry insights, KTN connects innovators with markets and showcases their capability, helping companies understand the benefits RAI brings to them.

“One of great things about the KTN is its power to bring people together, to convene. We’ve done very well by bringing together the robotics community and working with Government to roll out a strategy for the UK to leap ahead in this area to generate wealth and value.” Rich Walker, Managing Director, Shadow Robotics Company

Sustainable Aviation Fuel
KTN supports the activities of the Department for Transport and Sustainable Aviation by building the supply chain and stimulating innovation in order to accelerate the domestic production of sustainable aviation fuel.

“The changing transport fuel landscape presents an exciting opportunity for aviation and the industry is now ready to capitalise on the opportunity and progress towards the 2030 projected target of creating 4,400 jobs and £265 million GVA. The Special Interest Group will play a critical role in achieving the industry targets.” Ian Jopson, Chair of Sustainable Aviation

Synthetic Biology
Synthetic biology is research that combines biology and engineering in order to design and build new biological functions, systems and cells. Applications include advances in drug manufacturing and fuel production.

Together with BBSRC, we help to partner industry, research, investors and funders, establishing an internationally competitive synthetic biology industry in the UK.

Uncertainty Quantification and Management
When new products are designed and manufactured, they face uncertainty from the real world arising from variations in the raw materials used in manufacturing, uncertainties in the manufacturing process itself, followed by environmental influences and individual wear and tear characteristics. Uncertainty Quantification (UQ) is the anticipation of uncertainty from the digital design process.

KTN brings together a community of industrial users and researchers to promote a more UQ&M-savvy design and assessment community.

“The buzz of conversations that took place to refine the problem statements, propose solutions, and test ideas was exciting. Through these conversations we jointly developed a better understanding of the problem whereby the researchers could seek appropriate solutions.” Sanjiv Sharma, Expert for Modelling & Simulation, Airbus UK