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The University of Southampton

Liquid Crystal Research leads to major investment by Merck at Chilworth

Published: 3 February 2010

The decision by Merck to open a major new extension at Chilworth is featured in the Research Councils UK - Impacts publication on inward investment/leveraged funding. Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Luckhurst took a strong academic lead as the key figure in the School of Chemistry in the relationship with Merck.

"The opening of a major new extension to its Advanced Technologies Centre on the University of Southampton Science Park in December 2009 represents a 3.0 million Euro investment by global company Merck Chemicals in the Centre’s technical facilities for research and product development.

The expansion has created 20 job opportunities for scientists and technical experts specialising in chemistry, physics, application technology and analysis within Merck’s Liquid Crystals and Advanced Technology Divisions.

Merck opened its UK R&D headquarters on the Science Park in 2000 to be close to liquid crystal researchers at the University, primarily in the Schools of Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics with which it had built up a close relationship over many years. For the last decade the site has served as a materials research and technology centre focusing on reactive liquid crystals, organic electronics and materials for flexible displays.

“The key aspect of this striking new extension is the quality of the research scientists based there, some of whom originate from the University and the Liquid Crystal research group in the School of Chemistry. This long-standing relationship between the University’s researchers and Merck has enabled us to develop fundamental studies of relevance to industrial applications and, of course, benefited the wider UK research base,” said Professor Geoffrey Luckhurst, Emeritus Professor at the University’s School of Chemistry.

"Advanced Technologies Chilworth (AT-C) as a central research and development site of the chemicals business sector plays an important role in also implementing these technologies into tailored, innovative products for our customers worldwide," said Dr Klaus Bofinger, Senior-Vice President, Advanced Technologies, Merck."

Head of School, Professor John Evans commented: "this is an example of a strong academic lead - with Geoffrey as the key figure in Southampton - being very influential in a commercial decision. A true example of impact."

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