Analysis for innovators

The Innovate UK programme Analysis for Innovators (A4I) is a very different type of programme from Innovate UK. It is focused on helping individual companies to solve tricky and, perhaps, long running technical challenges, affecting existing processes, products, or services. A4I works with companies from sectors ranging from healthcare to the food and cosmetics sectors.

The National Measurement Laboratory (NML) is a founding partner of the A4I Programme and is the UK’s designated institute for chemical and bio-measurement, supporting the work of the Government Chemist.

Through A4I, we provide companies with access to our state-of-the-art measurement and analytical capabilities, helping them address problems and challenges in innovative ways, boosting their competitiveness and productivity. Other partners include, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the National Engineering Laboratory (NEL), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies, Henry Royce Institute, National Gear Metrology Lab, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, Newton Gateway to Mathematics

APPLICATIONS FOR ROUND 8, STAGE 1 ARE NOW OPEN UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2022

For more information about the Programme and how to apply, please visit the  A4I website

Do you have a question for the NML? email us here

Supporting UK businesses

With ~110 staff based in sites in Teddington, Leeds, Glasgow and Belfast, our chemical and bio-measurement science supports the areas of health, food security & supply, defence & security, renewable resources, environmental protection & sustainability. Our work, which spans nanoparticles to small molecules, nucleic acids, and peptides and proteins to cells, is based on the core platforms of mass spectrometry, nucleic acid quantification and flow cytometry.

We provide traceable and increasingly accurate standards of measurement, e.g., developing high quality nanomaterials to underpin standardisation or validating novel diagnostic technologies to support innovation. We play a leading role internationally to develop best practice and standardise measurements. We address measurement challenges of the future to foster innovation, promoting productivity and economic growth. 

Through improved chemical and bio-measurements we support manufacture and trade, protect consumers, enhance skills, and improve quality of life. 

The Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Programme allows the NML to engage directly with UK businesses to solve measurement challenges affecting existing processes, products or services, that ultimately help increase productivity and growth. Here are some examples of how NML expertise helped resolved different challenges:

Environmental – Using our mass spectrometry expertise (LC-MS and UV-Vis), we helped characterise an innovative product to remove carcinogens and developed methods to provide insight into the complex reaction monitoring process, to improve performance and product validation data and support certification.

Radiography - Using our solid state analysis (LA-ICP-MS) and high accuracy elemental analysis (ICP-MS) expertise, we provided quantitative results on the nanoparticle content and distribution of novel X-ray sensors, opening new market opportunities in the areas of healthcare, non-destructive testing and security.

Consumer products – Using our organic mass spectrometry expertise (LC-MS/MS), we conducted analysis to support the development of new bicycle lubricants, enabling a series of prototype lubricants to be fully characterised and assessed against performance, allowing for faster product development and more targeted performance gains.

Biotechnology (biocomputing) – Using our mass spectrometry expertise (LC-MSMS, LC-HRMS), we helped develop methods to analyse the 3D-printed materials integrated into bioprocessors and provide characterisation data to improve understanding of their reactivity and support further product development for safe and effective biocomputing.

Healthcare (therapeutics) – Using our mass spectrometry expertise (LC-MS, SECMS) we helped determine and optimise the body’s effect on a novel oligonucleotide drug delivery system and its pharmacokinetic profile, enabling preclinical studies to be completed in line with regulatory requirements to support the rapid commercialisation of a safe drug delivery method for novel therapeutics.

Biotechnology (therapeutics) - Using our quantitative single cell analysis capabilities (NGS), we helped develop and validate sequencing panels for specific cell types and applied these to existing cell therapy product pipelines, providing a novel and more rapid approach for product quality control to enable quicker product release with associated reduction costs.

Read our A4I cases studies to find out how the NML helped companies with their measurement challenges in other sectors such as environmental monitoring or food.

Air Quality Research – AQR optimises clean water treatment technology

Puraffinity - tackling global water scarcity with game-changing innovation.

Coconut Collaborative Ltd - Rapid and robust screening approaches to support food quality control.

What our scientists have to say:

“A4I is a great scheme that brings industry and the UK’s measurement laboratories closer for the benefit of both. As a Senior Researcher, I was very happy to take part.” Dorota Bartczak, Senior Researcher Nanometrology

What our scientists have to say:

“A4I provides an excellent opportunity for companies to access measurement resources to solve a complex problem, enabling them to grow and benefiting the economy. It is also a chance for us to apply the fundamental research we perform, supporting the quality of measurement in the UK beyond our core work of developing reference materials and standards.” Sarah Hill, Science Leader Inorganic Analysis

What our business partners have to say:

“As a young technology company, grants like the A4i scheme have enabled us to access cutting edge techniques and equipment and experienced scientists that we could not otherwise access. This has really benefited BiologIC in our innovation and product development journey. Without such resources, we would not have been able to execute investigations around our core technology at a pace that supports our early commercial engagement. Furthermore, it has facilitated future collaborative work with experts in the field, all helping to bring our vision of building the world's first Biocomputer to reality.” Dr Colin Barker PhD FCMI, Chief Scientific Officer, BiologIC