Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the UK Mathematical Sciences

ICMS, The Bayes Centre, 47 Potterrow, Edinburgh EH8 9BT

20 - 22 February 2019

Organising Committee

  • David Abrahams (Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences)
  • Martine Barons (University of Warwick)
  • Matt Butchers, (Knowledge Transfer Network)
  • Colin Bleak (University of St Andrews)
  • Jo Jordan (ICMS Board Member)
  • Colin Please (University of Oxford)

This three-day strategic workshop will examine the role and opportunities for the mathematical sciences in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund [1].
This workshop will explore the following question:

Are the mathematical sciences engaging properly in leading, partnering and / or contributing in general to the ISCF programme? If not, how can we improve this?

  • Day One will explore the opportunities and current level of engagement with the previously announced Waves 1 and 2 (~ 1.7 bn allocated). How can we maximise engagement with these well-established programmes?
  • Day Two will explore the emerging opportunities offered by Wave 3, whose programmes are in an earlier stage of delivery. What is the mathematical science offering for these programmes?
  • Day Three will explore how the mathematical sciences could better respond to challenge-led opportunities by defining a number of industry-led proposals which are underpinned by the mathematical sciences.

The outputs will be concrete proposals and actions to ensure the ISCF is strengthened by the involvement of the mathematical sciences. The aim of the Industrial Strategy is to boost productivity by backing businesses to create good jobs and increase the earning power of people throughout the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure [2]. A major component of this is in challenge-led research awarded via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). The ISCF:

  • Builds on the UK’s world-class research base and delivers the science that business needs to transform existing industries and create new ones
  • Accelerates commercial exploitation of the most exciting technologies the UK has to offer the world to ensure that scientific investment truly delivers economic impact, jobs and growth right across the country
  • Programmes delivered by the fund will be industry-led and powered by multi- disciplinary research and business-academic collaboration
  • Delivered by Innovate UK and Research Councils UK, and eventually UK Research and Innovation, the single voice for the UK’s research and innovation landscape

The recent Review of Knowledge Exchange in the Mathematical Sciences proposed that the ISCF affords a great opportunity for the mathematical sciences, given the potential for researchers in this field to engage in multidisciplinary research [3].

  • We strongly recommend deeper MS engagement with all stakeholders in the Industrial Strategy, the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). A similar point was made in the 2010 International Review of Mathematical Sciences (EPSRC, 2011):
  • Awareness should be raised within the mathematical sciences community of wider research challenges and societal challenges (including the sustainable development goals addressed by the Global Challenges Research Fund, GCRF) and deeper integration of mathematics should be promoted within industrial challenges (including the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, ISCF).

Expressions of Iinterest (EOI) are invited for those wishing to participate in the meeting.  Expression of interest closed Friday 1st February 2019. 

Confirmations will be issued by 8 February 2019.  Further registration info will be issued at that time.
Places will be allocated considering diversity, spread of mathematical science topics, and geographic spread.

This meeting is jointly funded by ICMS and INI. ICMS are funding this via their recently launched strategic workshop initiative. Further details are available here.

Meeting Preparation

Day One Delegates

On day one of this workshop we will be exploring where the mathematical sciences could contribute to a number of the Waves 1 & 2 challenge areas.

In preparation for the meeting, we would ask delegates to review the challenge descriptions of the following ISCF areas 

  • Leading-Edge Healthcare
  • Faraday Battery Challenge
  • Data to Early Diagnosis & Precision Medicine
  • Prospering from the Energy Revolution
  • Healthy Ageing
  • Transforming Construction
  • Transforming Food Production


(Details of which can be found here:

And consider the following questions

  • What are the mathematical sciences doing already in relation to this challenge?
  • Names of industrial organisations who are involved?
  • What (more) could the mathematical sciences bring to the challenge and how does it related to the challenge objectives?
  • Names of UK mathematical scientists to ‘champion’ the communities interaction with this challenge
  • Examples of relevant case studies
  • Thought on ‘bullet point statements’ which could be included in call scopes

It may be that you wish to consult colleagues and contacts when considering your response to these questions.

Day Two Delegates

There is a very recent blog on Wave 3 ISCF you may which to review prior to the meeting: 


The provisional programme is shown below.



Wednesday 20 February 2019


Registration & coffee, ICMS, Level 5, Bayes Centre

Session One:  Scene Setting


David Abrahams (Isaac Newton Institute)


Matt Butchers (Knowledge Transfer Network)
Workshop Opening


Mike Biddle  (Innovate UK)
Keynote:  ISCF Strategic Overview


Colin Please (University of Oxford)
A Mathematician’s Experience with the ISCF

Session Two:  Engaging in Existing Programmes ISCF Waves 1 and 2 Areas


Martine Barons (University of Warwick)
Matt Butchers (Knowledge Transfer Network)
Introduction -


Transforming Food Production
Leading Edge Healthcare
Prospering from the Energy Revolution
Healthy Ageing
Faraday Battery Challenge
Data to Early Diagnosis & Precision Medicine




Liam Winder (Innovation Lead – Innovate UK)
Role and Function of the Challenge Director


Break-out GroupsWhich programmes could the mathematical sciences make a difference to?




Break-out GroupsWho and how do we make this engagement?


Plenary Feedback


Martine Barons (University of Warwick)
Matt Butchers (Knowledge Transfer Network)
Day 1 Summary


Wine Reception – followed by Dinner. Dinner is scheduled for 6pm at Blonde Restuarant.


Thursday 21 February 2019


Jo Jordan (ICMS Board)
Collin Bleak (St Andrews University)
Workshop Opening and Recap

Session Three: Introduction (Day Two)  Wave 3 Challenge Summaries


Ian Diamond (UK Research & Innovation)
Keynote: UKRI Current Innovation Opportunities and Landscape


Wave 3 Challenge Summaries Part 1


Roger McKinlay (Innovate UK)
Commercialising Quantum Technologies
Martyn Cherrington (Innovate UK)
Driving the Electric Revolution
Accelerated Detection of Disease
Andrew Lawrence (EPSRC)
Future of Flight Challenge




Wave 3 Challenge Summaries Part 2

Lynne McGregor (Innovate UK)
Manufacturing Made Smarter
Sheena Hindocha (Knowledge Transfer Network)
Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge
Robert Quarshie (Knowledge Transfer Network)
Transforming Foundation Industries




Break-out Groups – Which programmes could the mathematical sciences make a difference to?

Matt Lodge (EPSRC)
Smart Sustainable Plastics Packaging


Plenary Feedback

15.45 -16.15



John Ockendon (University of Oxford)
Keynote:  Making Industrial Mathematics Mutually Beneficial


Jo Jordan (ICMS Board)
Collin Bleak (St Andrews University)
Day 2 Summary and Day 3 Preparation



Friday 22 February 2019


David Abrahams (Isaac Newton Institute)
Martine Barons (University of Warwick)
Workshop Opening and Recap

Session Four: How Can the Mathematical Sciences Prepare Better for Future Opportunities?


Sue Dunkerton (Knowledge Transfer Network)
Keynote: Where do ISCF Challenges come from?


 Panel Session -  How can mathematical sciences better engage in challenge-led research?


  • Ruth Kaufman (Independent)
  • Henry Wynn (London School of Economics)
  • Ronni Bowman (Dstl)
  • Collin Bleak (St Andrews University)



Session Five: Industry Big Challenges


David Abrahams  (INI)
Session Introduction


Various Talks, Dstl, Glaxosmithkline & others

13.00 –14.00



Break-out Groups - What can the MS-community bring to these industries, and how might a challenge statement be formulated?


Plenary Discussions and Workshop Summary


Paul Glendinning (ICMS)
Meeting Close