Engineering Networks Could Provide the Answer in Aiding Researchers with Crucial Industry Opportunities Post Academia

As Research Assistant, Dr Virginia Gomez, gets ready to swap the lab for the law having recently accepted a new position as Patent Advisor in Madrid’s top IP firm, ABG Patentes; Dr Gomez reflects on the impact engineering networks, such as the National Research Network (NRN) in Advanced Engineering and Materials (AEM), provide in creating unique collaborative opportunities for researchers.

Dr Virginia Gomez

Having successfully collaborated with RICE University in the US, Nottingham University as well as industry giants BP, Glass Technology Services Ltd (GTS) and Tata Steel during her time as part of the NRN AEM; Dr Gomez believes it is building upon strong relations such as these that will enable Welsh science to be at the forefront of innovative developments and promote engineering ingenuity on the international stage; an objective the Welsh Government is keen to promote as part of the ‘Science for Wales’ initiative.

“Working on an NRN AEM funded project has provided a unique opportunity to work in new and relevant research areas. It has provided links and opportunities between academia and industry and has proven to be valuable in creating bridges to other career paths outside of academia.” – Dr Virginia Gomez

With research funded by the NRN AEM and under the expertise and guidance of Professor Andrew Barron, Sêr Cymru Chair of Low Carbon, Energy and Environment, at the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University; Dr Gomez is all too aware of the benefits these collaborations can bring in achieving research success.

Dr Gomez and Prof Andrew Barron

Having spent the past two and a half years developing a method that seeks to enhance the efficiency of electricity to the current UK grid system, through the development of new nanocarbon composites (ultraconductive copper UCC) having an improved room temperature electrical conductivity over pure copper; collaboration with industry will now push this research forward to ultimately transform the energy sector within Wales and the rest of the UK.


 “We are using energy-efficient, fast and sustainable ways to achieve our goal of improving the conductivity of the electrical wiring on the present electrical grid, in the hope of radically transforming the energy sector in the UK. We hope with this project, South Wales can once again have a world leadership role in copper technology.”

“The NRN AEM has supported in the development of a successful collaboration between Swansea University and the international industry. This collaboration is indispensable to successfully scale and manufacture the new Copper-carbon nanotube Ultraconductive (UCC) wires.” – Dr Virginia Gomez

Dr Gomez, who is an Associate Member of The Royal Society of Chemistry, has used her knowledge and expertise to build links between the Spanish and British Research communities during her time at Swansea University. The continuation of nurturing this academic/industry relation is something Dr Gomez is keen to apply to her new role within the chemistry department at ABG Patentes. Nurturing such relations will ultimately enable and encourage knowledge and commercial exchange within these sectors.

“Academia and industry collaboration are key in pushing science forward.  NRN AEM’s promotion of research excellence and industrial engagement is a remarkable strategy since links to industry are essential to science” – Dr Virginia Gomez

With an extensive background in nanotechnology and material science, having been awarded the Barcelona Award for Best Doctoral Thesis in Occupational Health and most recently winning the Extraordinary Doctorate Award from the University of Zaragoza for her research in to Nanosafety and Nanotechnology; Dr Gomez will continue to use these collaborative relations to apply specialised knowledge to protect and foster future commercial products.

“During my Post Doc working in a NRN AEM funded project at ESRI, I've had the opportunity to acquire and strengthen many skills including collaboration, analytical thinking as well as organising research.

“In my opinion, the skill set obtained, can be easily transferred to a patent adviser role and will allow me to use my scientific expertise beyond the bench and yet still be in touch with the latest results from research and technological advances in a variety of industries and fields.” – Dr Virginia Gomez

As the NRN AEM aids researchers in potential industry career links post academic research, it will ultimately benefit both powerhouses by culminating a set of transferable skills that are gained through academia and transfer essential scientific research knowledge into the industry sector.

With a future working across a variety of industry sectors from pharmaceuticals, drug delivery systems to chemical engineering to name a few; Dr Gomez will actively work to advise and protect companies in their intellectual property development. Having already experienced science legality, having had 19 publications published in high impact journals as well as being a Science Policy Member for the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK, Dr Gomez looks forward to furthering the legal side of innovative science.

The prospect of applying my experience from academia and scientific research to help institutions and companies to protect their cutting edge innovations is exciting as this is at the core of many technological businesses and start-ups ” – Dr Virginia Gomez

With much scientific research intertwined throughout a vast majority of industrial and commercial development in areas such as New Energy, Healthcare and Technology, Dr Gomez will now be at the forefront of exploiting, promoting and protecting essential developments from within scientific organisations and industries, a development that is gained as a result of the strong uphold of academia/ industrial collaborations.

My aim is to pass the European Qualifying Examination (EQE) certification and become a European Patent Attorney in a few years’ time and thanks to my research experience at Swansea University, funded by the NRN AEM, I am now going to start a new exciting career in the IP world.” – Dr Virginia Gomez

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Set up in 2013 the National Research Network (NRN) is a collaborative network, led by Swansea University in partnership with Cardiff University, Bangor University and TWI that seeks to bring academics and industrial leaders in the key fields of advanced engineering and materials, life sciences and low carbon energy and the environment together. Its primary purpose is to support the aspirations of the Welsh Government’s Science Strategy for Wales to establish an effective platform for breakthrough research in these fields. The Network gained £7M of funding from the Welsh Government and HEFCW as part of the Ser Cymru (Stars Wales) initiative |

Picture 1: Dr Virginia Gomez in the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) lab, Swansea Bay Campus.

Picture 2: Professor Andrew Barron and Dr Virginia Gomez outside the ESRI building, Swansea Bay Campus.

Higher resolution versions available on request.