Equipment sharing database launched in Northern England

Newcastle University campus.
Image: Wikimedia, Sarah Cossom.Newcastle University campus. Image: Wikimedia, Sarah Cossom.

A new equipment sharing database has been created to promote connectivity, efficiency and the sharing of publicly funded research assets, amongst eight of the North of England’s largest universities.

The N8 Equipment sharing database is a project that will allow northern universities to share equipment; a move which is hoped will enable universities to save significant time and money.

The database is an online programme which the universities of Newcastle, Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and York will all have access to. These universities are regarded as the ‘region’s most research intensive universities.’

Updates to the database will be daily and the search facility it supplies will be freely accessible to anyone, which includes funding bodies, researchers, research managers and policy makers.

The system will use a very simple three tiered system. This will begin with categories of ‘Class’, ‘Order’ and ‘Genus’, which will classify the equipment by its primary research function. This simplifies the system to a level on which it can be browsed using merely key words.

The results can be further specified and refined by pinpointing the equipment’s location, for example or even by a classification term. All equipment included in the database will have contact details alongside it, in order to ease the process of any subsequent external use of the equipment.

The facilities of the universities will also be listed alongside the equipment in order to provide information about the technology, expertise and important university contacts. This will allow those who require a service rather than a specific piece of equipment to also gain some benefit from the database.

Dr Nick Goldspink, N8 project manager, who has been leading the initiative, said:

“This is a massive boost to academics and to Northern industry, which will save money, boost efficiency and aid research.

“It is unique in the region and demonstrates the strength of N8’s commitment to promote the sharing of publicly-funded research assets.

“Each university has provided a comprehensive list of all the equipment it feels other universities will benefit from. It is a fully searchable online database. It can be used to locate and request access to research equipment and facilities across the partnership.”

The Horiba Raman Spectrometer at LabRAM in Newcastle University, a confocal microscope, which allows the user to obtain the most detailed of images and to construct analyses with great speed and confidence, is just one of the many facilities that Newcastle University has already put forward for the database.

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