Our proposal: a new Focused Research Organisation (FRO)
New types of organization are needed to accelerate scientific progress. This is particularly true for new fibres and filaments where progress has stalled.
In the history of new, impactful fibres they have largely came through dedicated investigation and experimentation. The working environment and R&D culture at the DuPont Experimental Station has given us some of the most important and breakthrough materials we rely on today. However, the academic and private venture system we know in 2023 just is not delivering the materials we need for the future.
The DuPont Experimental Station lays a blueprint for science and engineering that we can all learn from. Academia is not geared up to develop and bridge ideas to commercialisation and the venture backed start-up is too tightly prescribed to enable a culture of invention and discovery.
There is a good dissection of the problems in UK academia and innovation in James W. Phillip's newsletter here
Focused Research Organizations (FROs) are a new type of scientific institution designed to fill this gap More
In brief, we are proposing a new FRO that is obsessed with finding new materials for the future. We see this FRO as a centre for all things fibre extrusion. We are using the placeholder name "Spaghetti Labs" internally. The distinct features of an FRO are that:
- They are “focused” in that they pursue prespecified, quantifiable technical milestones rather than open-ended, blue-sky research. They must achieve these milestones within a finite time (usually ~5 years) to avoid mission creep and preserve focus. While an FRO may pivot its strategy, its goals do not change.
- They produce high-impact public goods to dramatically accelerate progress in key areas of science and technology. New fibres and filaments have catalysed new innovations in aerospace, composites and medical devices.
- They are led by a full-time founding team, and consist of a larger-than-academic-scale team of 10 to 30 (or possibly more) scientists, engineers, and operational staff. FROs execute like the best deep-tech startups: tight-knit, fast-moving, and mission-driven.
- As they near completion, FROs actively disseminate and deploy the public goods they create into the real world, whether by open-sourcing data, spinning out one or more non-profits or start-ups. By sharing prototype material freely, applications can be found that were not readily apparent.
It is our mission is to help bring new textile innovations through the valley of death. Loom and Power was established to accelerate and amplify new ideas and we see a fibre/filament processing FRO a a way to recreate some of the activity and output of the DuPont Experimental Station on a smaller scale.
We will combine processing and spinning expertise with upstream research in new polymers and materials. Our goal is to expand the materials toolbox and move new fibres from TRL 3 and TRL 6. This will then interface with industrial research to commercialise.
We are utilising the extensive knowledge base in the UK textile hub. It is our ambition to further the state-of-the-art and bring more advanced techniques to the industry.
We are always seeking new ideas and ways of working. If you think you can help, please contact us.