MTD Ltd started life, in 1977, as a directorate - The Marine Technology Directorate - of the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) Nine years later, in line with its normal policy, SERC relinquished sole responsibility for continuation of the directorate. MTD Ltd is now a company limited by guarantee whose running costs are provided jointly by SERC, government departments (DEn, DTI and MOD) and industry (largely from the oil and gas sector). SERC still identifies research funding, currently about £3 5m/year, for allocation through MTD Ltd to UK universities and polytechnics, MTD Ltd acts as SERC's agent in this respect for research in marine technology
Funding for the research, especially in the earlier years, has been provided mostly by SERC, however MTD Ltd was established in the first instance with the major aim of serving the marine industry, and that industry has become increasingly involved, initially by advising on priorities for research and latterly also by providing a significant proportion of the research funds and by monitoring or actually collaborating in the work Formal methods for co-funding and collaboration are:
club funded managed programmes (multi-project, multi-sponsor, multi-contractor), in these programmes about half of the research costs come from SERC, the balance from a group of industrial and government sponsors
multi-sponsor single project, the distribution of funding may be similar to that for a managed programme but on occasions is shared equally between all the sponsors including SERC,
cooperative projects (normally only one other sponsor apart from SWC); costs are shared equally between SERC and the industrial partner who also is expected to collaborate in undertaking some parts of the research. In return for this substantial involvement the IPR for any development arising from the project is assigned to the industrial partner on the basis of a revenue-sharing arrangement with the academic institution
In addition to these collaborative arrangements a proportion of research supported through UTD Ltd is funded wholly by SERC.
With these funding arrangements, that is, with the preponderance of SERC funding, it is not surprising that the timescales envisaged for exploitation of the research are medium to long term, not short term However, before describing more fully the research in automation technology it is worth noting an important recent development which will extend the range of activities of MTD Ltd In July of this year UEG Offshore Research was acquired by MTD Ltd from CIRIA UEG was well known for its information services to the industry and for its promotion and management of joint industry projects with an output of immediate use to engineers MTD Ltd will continue and expand these activities, thus adding projects with a shorter return period to the spectrum of research that is has previously supported
MTD Ltd's research is organised, somewhat arbitrarily, into five major areas - mineral resources, physical ocean environment, ocean structures and materials, ships and floating structures, and underwater working.