GRM Partners with Nottingham Trent University to Support the Commercialisation of their Geotechnical Testing Laboratory

The team at GRM are proud of the relationships we have built with local universities, which includes the recruitment of a wide range of graduates. Another recent collaborative example is the innovative work we are doing with the Civil Engineering Department at Nottingham Trent University (NTU).

Their geotechnical testing lab has set its sights on transitioning into a fully operational commercial facility, providing the students with the opportunity to work on actual client projects while at the same time generating revenue to update their research facilities and equipment.

Andy Brown, GRM’s Principal Geotechnical Engineer, has been our lead on this and we recently spoke to him about the project:

How did you and GRM get involved in this project?

“Basically, the idea came from ongoing conversations I’ve been having with Paul Beetham at NTU. We originally graduated together from Derby University and our paths have crossed several times since!  He has always been keen to use the lab setup at NTU for industry knowledge exchange, and one area of opportunity was the soil testing lab bottleneck caused in part by HS2 work saturating other facilities.

“NTU have skilled Technical Specialists who primarily focus on student teaching and research, but there was a clear opportunity to offer their expertise coupled with the spare lab capacity to commercial clients. What they didn’t have was the UKAS accreditation and a dedicated lab workforce to enable this.

“Paul wanted to find some reputable commercial partners to work with, and GRM were selected as one of these primarily providing soil samples, acting as the ‘client’ and advising on quality assurance expectations.”

What specific support and guidance have you been able to provide?

“I have been the main lead for GRM, providing support and advice on what a real client would need and expect. We also seconded one of our team, Dave Spencer, to look at their existing equipment and compile a ‘wish-list’ of equipment that would be needed to reach UKAS standard and to assist in getting UKAS accreditation. Dave has a background in laboratory QA and UKAS audits, so was well placed for this role.

“More recently we have supplied a range of soil samples and provided feedback to NTU on their results as part of the quality/improvement process. This is helping NTU refine their processes and experience of geotechnical laboratory testing in a commercial setting.”

How will this relationship with NTU evolve?

“Over the next few months we will continue running test audits, review the UKAS accreditation requirements and their QA processes. SOCOTEC are another of NTU’s partners working on this, which is a linked in bonus relationship.

“The objective is to help fully establish the NTU lab as a commercial test provider to the wider industry. Naturally we would be proud and delighted to send some of our client samples to their facility too!

“Other benefits include a link into regional R&D funding to benefit the local economy, a potential feed for NTU graduates into GRM roles, and other mutually beneficial knowledge exchange where NTU work collaboratively with us to facilitate other GRM R&D projects with specific research skills, e.g. machine learning, visualisation, and python coding.”

Further information on the latest developments with this project can also be found in a recent NTU news release:

Nottingham Trent University’s Geotechnical Testing Lab Makes Strides Towards Commercialisation

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