ESGI 171: A European Study Group with Industry in Edinburgh

The European Study Group with Industry (ESGI) is a 5-day workshop held annually in the UK. These knowledge exchange events bring together mathematical scientists from a wide range of backgrounds to work intensively on current real-world challenges posed by industry partners. They are a well-established method for facilitating engagement between academia/industry and making real progress in a single week. Shortly after the event, each challenge holder receives a written report which is later published on Mathematics in Industry Reports (MIIR).

International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) and the Maxwell Institute for Mathematical Sciences (Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh) were pleased to host the 171st European Study Group with Industry (ESGI 171) at Old College, University of Edinburgh from 17-21 July 2023. This event attracted over 80 mathematicians from across the world, ranging from PhD students to professors with a variety of expertise.

Over the week, participants worked together to tackle the following challenges:

  • Forecasting model for harmful algal blooms (Abagold)
  • Objective and explainable image quality assessment (Dstl)
  • Mathematical modelling of a silicon carbide pilot furnace (Elkem ASA)
  • Predicting performance of OLED devices (Merck Electronics)
  • Microwave field effects (PepsiCo)
  • Developing the PHS whole system model (Public Health Scotland)
  • Modelling pulsatile flows in artificial kidneys (Quanta DT)
  • Forecasting Edinburgh’s tourism demand (TravelTech for Scotland)

The study group was a huge success! Feedback from participants includes:

It was a very vibrant environment, an incubator for innovative ideas. The study group was a very enjoyable experience and allowed headspace to focus on research.”

The participation from the industry partners was more substantial and supportive than I dared to anticipate, and I found the sense of camaraderie and collective support among the participating academics to exceed my initial expectations.”

An excellent study group!”

Our industry partners also had a great experience:

A fantastic initiative which has really opened up a world of possibilities and opportunities for further work, an example of the power of interdisciplinary collaboration. Sometimes all it takes is that different perspective.” – Sarah Halse, Abagold

I didn’t know much about the study group process before this week, and I have been bowled over by the experience. Working with a range of people was great. The ability to talk through ideas within the team and with other organisations helped me to see new worlds of opportunity.” – Ken Nicholson, Public Health Scotland

Elkem has a long history of attending study groups. We gain valuable insight from having in-depth discussions with a diverse group of participants. ESGI 171 has been no exception, and has once again allowed us to learn a lot about a very complex and difficult industry challenge. The knowledge we gain within just 5 days is always surprising.” – Harry Reynolds, Elkem ASA

Cathal Cummins, chair of the organising committee, said:

ESGI 171 was such a lively meeting as eight industry partners brought intriguing challenges to the table – from modelling artificial kidneys to perfecting microwave crisps! Beneath these challenges, there was some serious mathematics at play. With 80+ mathematicians collaborating for an entire week, the progress made on each of the challenges was nothing short of phenomenal. It was the blend of incredible talent, a nurturing atmosphere, and the hands-on involvement of our industry partners that made it all happen. It was such an honour to lead such an event and watch budding and experienced mathematicians coming together to solve these industrial challenges.”

The next UK ESGI will be hosted by the University of Birmingham in 2024 – see you there!

Lauren Hyndman, Knowledge Exchange Manager at ICMS

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