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The National Formulation Centre: Opening doors to project activation and collaboration

Article by Dr. Rachael Rowlands-Jones

The National Formulation Centre  (NFC) is now open for business as announced at CPI’s Formulation Open Day at Netpark on 21 June 2016.  The NFC is looking to end-users to define what capability the formulation sector needs over the next 5-10 years.  The day provided an opportunity to tour the facilities and meet key members of the NFC team.

The NFC is structured to leverage four national cross-sector capability themes in:

  • Big Data
  • Predictive Design (tools, measuring, modeling)
  • Radical Effects (New Products faster)
  • Manufacturability (Reproducibility, optimized)


As route to deliver this the NFC is building capability to exploit enabling technologies that create value for formulation companies including: informatics, Modeling, Measurement & sensors (telemetry) and Automation and Robotics.

One capability under construction is multi-scale rig with vessels from 1L to 1000L capacity to aid in understanding of scaling complex liquid formulations. The facility will be housed at Birmingham University in the interim and is anticipated to be available from Q4 2016.


The KTN recently hosted a webinar by Darren Ragheb, Head of Business Development at the NFC, highlighting the recent activities on project activation and specific collaboration opportunities at the NFC.  A recording of the webinar is available here: Play recording >>


NFC Projects:

PD1D – Complex Fluid Stability & Rheology           Start: Q3 2016
Partners: P&G, BP, Pfizer, Imperial, Durham

Integrated liquid stability and rheology prediction toolkit
(Opportunities for open access testing for wider community in 3-4 years).

  • Exploring potential using microfluidics devices for better capacity to control parameters (through-put and stresses).
  • Connecting microfluidics with novel measurement techniques
  • The project is keen to hear from agro-chemical and food companies

MF1.2A – Process Analytical Tools for Liquid Formulations      Start: tbc
Partners: Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh, Manchester, Strathclyde

Liquid processing loop (multi-scale rig). The NFC will invest in early best bet ‘novel’ measurements.

  • Connecting different reaction vessels to sensor and measurement to assess processes.
  • Foundational work taking place with HEI to establish the novel process analytics and sensor capability.
  • This project is looking for SMEs and HEIs with novel sensor and measurement technology.

MF1.2C – Implementation of Particle Models for Industry      Start: tbc
Partners: Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, Johnson Matthey, Sheffield, Edinburgh

A methodology and framework for translating academic particle processing computational models to industry.

  • Creating UK hub for model commercialisation and in-silico product/process development.
  • Case study of wet granulation
  • This project is looking for modeling software developers.

MD3A – Integrated Knowledge System for Formulation Design  Start: tbc
Partners: Unilever, British Sugar, Croda, P&G, AkzoNobel, Manchester, Sheffield, Lancaster.

IKSFD will develop a flexible platform for data interrogation and modeling.

  • This project is looking for collaborators from a wider range of sectors; e.g. coatings properties, nanomaterials selection, software developers/modeling case studies.

PD1E – Advanced Rheology Toolkit for Prediction and Control      Start 6-12 months
Partners: Sun Chemical

Developing non-invasive/ non-destructive rheology.

  • Building on laser-based rheology to characterise blood at Swansea University
  • NEW project

The project activation remains an open process and interested parties can complete the short template to capture potential project ideas.  The NFC are keen to develop sustainable tools, and support projects that create gearing or leverage.

For further information on how to get involved contact Dr. Rachael Rowlands-Jones:

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