Roadmapping the future of UK Physics with IOP

The UK’s Institute of Physics (IOP) has engaged the roadmapping expertise of IfM Engage to support IOP Members to deliver transformational changes for society.

Roadmapping was identified as a process that could support IOP Members to identify trends that will impact their work in research and business and help them to identify key areas where they could actively exploit physics-based research, new and emerging technologies, and business development. The aim of the IOP roadmapping exercise is to help drive the focus and maximise the impact of physics to benefit society across 45 of the Institute’s special interest groups.

IfM Engage Senior Industrial Fellow, Dr Michele Routley, facilitated the IOP’s pilot roadmapping workshop on Photonics, which involved analysing the landscape and future drivers that will influence Photonics’ future. This first workshop brought together 25 experts from research and industry to look for possible opportunities to turn Photonics research breakthroughs into new products and processes.

Dr Routley said the roadmapping process helped the IOP Members to identify how the advancement of physics applications could benefit society and the UK economy: “A major aim is to enable communication between stakeholders – both academic and industry – to identify linkages and help groups involved in both research, development and commercialisation to think more strategically.

“The roadmapping workshop identified opportunities for Photonics to meet global, industrial and sector needs and areas where policies and regulations need to be addressed. It also identified key areas to invest in in terms of research, capabilities, skills and resources.

“There was strong consensus that Photonics was not just a niche physics area and that it had wide-reaching impacts and was a key enabling technology for many market sectors. However, it was also identified that there is an increasing need for a workforce with strong vocational skills in the discipline. A number of new opportunities were identified that Members will progress.”

IOP Head of Science and Innovation, Anne Crean, said: “The objective behind this roadmapping workshop was to galvanise a voice in the photonics community and hear what industry thinks are the market drivers and challenges.

“The output from this workshop will be a report that will feed into the Institute’s policymaking, but more importantly, it will also be a platform for our Members to work with the community to identify actions that will accelerate the opportunities for taking research and turning it into innovations with practical applications.”

The first IOP roadmapping pilot also proved to be an effective process to facilitate dialogue between IOP Members from academia and industry. IOP plans to facilitate and support Members to make use of roadmapping for developing strategies for all the Institute’s Special Interest Groups and is also looking at developing a digital portal to share outcomes between IOP Members to enhance collaboration.

The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific membership society working to advance physics for the benefit of all. The Institute has a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, from enthusiastic amateurs to those at the top of their fields in academia, business, education and government.