Case study: sharing equipment across EARC

11 April 2024

Will Edwards

Eastern Arc has been working to develop an equipment-sharing platform across the Consortium, including a dedicated Imaging Platform Alliance. 

We took time to speak to one of the beneficiaries of the initative, Will Edwards at the University of Kent


Doctoral student Will Edwards was faced with a problem. He wanted to run some analytical tests to establish the protein content of black soldier flies, but the University of Kent didn’t have the necessary elemental analyser.

He talked about his options with his supervisor Anastasios Tasousis and co-supervisor Rob Barker. ‘The only option seemed to be investing £50k in a new analyser, or paying commercial rates for running the tests,’ said Will. And then Anastasios said, ‘Have you thought about Eastern Arc?’

Will hadn’t been aware of the opportunity available to those working in any of the  consortium members. As part of a trial agreement, they could access equipment (primarily  imaging equipment) and facilities at any of the four universities. 

Will looked at what each university had, and saw that UEA had the equipment he needed: an Exeter Analytical CE440 elemental analyser. He dropped a line to Antony Hinchcliffe, Instrument Platform Manager at UEA, who was supportive and agreed to host him. He then got permission from the Director of Research for his department, and made a formal request from Eastern Arc to go ahead. The consortium provided the funding for him to travel to UEA and use their equipment.  

‘It was a brilliant experience,’ said Will. ‘Antony was incredibly helpful, giving us the necessary training to use the equipment, and then allowing us to go ahead with the tests.’ 

The results helped Will and the team of which he’s part to understand the potential for the fly larvae to be used as poultry feed, offering a cheap and sustainable alternative to soya-based food. 

‘We could have spent £50k on new equipment, or even paid over the odds to get a commercial organisation to run the tests. As it was, UEA was able to run the tests at cost. It also gave us the opportunity to meet people there, to see their labs, and understand the work that they are doing. It helped us make links for future work and collaborations.’ 

To find out more about how to access equipment across Eastern Arc, go to the Imaging Platform Alliance page. EARC is currently auditing large or unique equipment across the consortium, and intends to access a wide range of facilities at each University. 

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