Case study

Innovation funding delivers results for SCITEK

Engineering consultancy SCITEK, used funding and support from our Productivity through Innovation programme to recruit a graduate to deliver an R&D project.

Through this work, the company has developed a more efficient process for one of its services and won a new contract with a prestigious client.

Improving image analysis of components

SCITEK provides engineering services to clients in sectors such as aerospace, defence, power generation and automotive. One of its services is the image analysis of components, including the production of temperature maps. Traditionally, the analysis of images is carried out manually by skilled operators, but this is a slow and subjective process. Consequently, the temperature maps produced this way can vary.

To address this issue, SCITEK embarked on several R&D projects with a customer aimed at developing a streamlined process. Zoe Christodoulou, who heads up Marketing and Business Development for SCITEK, explains:

“The intention was to develop a mathematical technique which could automatically analyse images of components, segment colours and produce more reliable temperature maps faster. The ultimate aim of the project was to enable our customer to improve their components.”

— Zoe Christodoulou, Marketing and Business Development, SCITEK

Two colleagues work on designs as engineering consultancy
Screen of machine showing component
Hands hold component

How the University helped

SCITEK was keen to accelerate this development work when an opportunity presented itself. The company found out about the University’s Productivity through Innovation programme (PtI), which provides funding, support and expertise to eligible SMEs that want to increase their performance and productivity.

After several discussions with the PtI team, SCITEK decided to apply for a grant which would help fund a graduate to work on the image analysis project full-time. The application was successful and a General Engineering graduate from the University of Durham — Paul Christodoulou — was appointed. He started work in April 2020, just as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic caused some delays to the project but thankfully, it did not affect the end goal,” says Zoe. “Because of the PtI funding, we did not have to furlough Paul, so we were still able to move the project forward.”

How SCITEK benefitted

Paul worked on the project for 12 months and was able to develop an improved image analysis workflow, reducing the process time by over 50%. The new process helped SCITEK win a contract with a major aerospace client, and that client wrote them a letter to say how pleased they were with the results. In addition, Paul has now secured a permanent role at SCITEK.

“The project has helped the business in many different areas,” says Zoe. “It has embedded new skills into our company and opened up our customer base to new markets.

It just came at the right time for our business and the graduate was fantastic, allowing us the time needed to focus on the project. The PtI team also made the whole process from start to finish really stress-free and easy.”

Get funding for your own industrial research

We are still offering part-funded research projects like this to local SMEs, through our Productivity through Innovation programme. Do you have an idea but need help and funding to get it off the ground?

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