OCCA & Academic Institutes

One of the main objectives of OCCA is to strengthen our relationship with academic institutes, forge new partnerships and recruit new student members as they plan to embark on their career in the coatings industry. Since 2018, OCCA has boasted academic partnerships with three universities – Leeds, Salford and Warwick. As recently as this last month, we have added a fourth university – Lancaster University – to this group of Academic Partners. Over the last eight years, Lancaster has invested over £30 million in their learning environment and recruited world-leading academic staff to their team. A recently launched initiative “Greater Innovation for Smarter Materials Optimisation” has ‘surfaces & coatings’ as one of its core areas of focus. It therefore seemed only natural to include Lancaster as our newest Academic Partner. More details will be made available to members in our next issue of SCI. We are also in discussion with several other universities and hope to add more to our list of official Educational Partners in due course. It is important to mention that we benefit from Professor Long Lin (Leeds) and Danny McCaul (Salford) as our academic advisors on OCCA Council.


Insight Into Industry

OCCA proudly launched a new “Academia meets Industry” initiative, bringing together individual OCCA members, our industry partners, and students and staff from academia. We have successfully run a number of events in order to engage with students and introduce them to our challenging and everchanging industry.


Leeds University

Leeds University is currently the only academic institution in the UK to run a Masters Course in Colour Chemistry, run and managed by Council Member Professor Long Lin. Council members visited Leeds to speak with the Masters students about careers and the different roles in our industry. They also introduced the newly launched Surfex Bursary scheme and discussed future career development. There were plans for an “Industry Insight Day”, to be run for the undergraduate and post-graduate students once exams were completed in June, but this will now potentially be run as a Zoom event in early September.


Salford University

Salford University became an OCCA Educational Partner in 2018, OCCA’s Centenary year – the same year in which Salford reintroduced an undergraduate Chemistry degree, after an absence of almost 20 years. OCCA spent a day at Salford University with representatives from our Corporate Sponsor companies. Each representative provided an ‘elevator pitch’ about their personal route into the Coatings Industry and provided more detail about their specific roles (technical service, lab management, commercial, procurement, manufacturing, R&D). This was followed by a small breakout session, giving small groups of 6 or 7 students the opportunity to ask questions of each of the industry representatives in turn. The feedback from all involved was very positive – for industry colleagues, the students and their lecturers.

Warwick University

Warwick University joined our Educational Partners scheme in 2018, following the very successful Surfex exhibition that year. The vibrant Chemistry Department has one of the newest undergraduate teaching laboratories, equipped with state-of-the art instrumentation. Major investment has provided outstanding infrastructure for both undergraduate study and research, including a £24m interdisciplinary centre for Materials and Analytical Science. At the start of 2020 we held several meetings with key staff members at Warwick, exploring ways in which to develop a two way collaboration between our respective organisations – in terms of support we can lend to Warwick by provision of industry lectures, Industry Insight sessions and financial support for students eligible to apply for the Surfex Bursary.

From Warwick’s perspective, the University was keen to showcase their services available to industry partners and to consider the type of projects currently undertaken by their Masters and PhD students. Subsequent to our initial meetings, we hosted a “Meet OCCA” pizza evening with the Warwick ChemSoc. Further plans extend to a full Industry Insight Day and involvement in their ‘Careers in Chemistry’ Fair, but these have had to be put on hold owing to the current pandemic. We are, however, exploring ways in which to host similar online events at the start of the new academic year, which will feature Industrial presentations and breakout sessions. In each instance, when we have put industry experts and students together, we have witnessed so much enthusiasm from the students, staff and industry colleagues alike. We are forging ahead with plans to foster new links with other academic institutions and universities in our bid to engage with and inspire the coating industry professionals of the future.


Would you like to be  involved with an Industry Showcase?

OCCA are looking to arrange virtual events at the start of the new academic year.  We are looking for industry members to volunteer a few hours to speak with students about their careers and the industry they work in.  Please contact admin@occa.uk.com for information.



Surfex & OCCA Bursaries

One of the key elements during the OCCA visits was to discuss the bursaries provided by OCCA and Surfex. Launched in 2019, the Surfex Bursary is designed to help both students and industry chemists with training and career development. Leaflets have been designed for display on notice boards and for distribution to students at careers events. Visits were made to our three of our educational partner universities to launch the scheme in January 2020 and to encourage students to submit their applications for the September 2020 intake year. For further information about the Surfex Bursary, please contact

Dr Laura Merritt: laura@occa.org.uk There are plans in place to launch a new OCCA bursary later this year. An outline of the proposed scheme will be presented to members at this year’s AGM.


Future Plans

OCCA are seeking to partner with several more UK universities throughout the course of the year and had several presentations and events planned with prospective University partners when Covid-19 struck. While students and staff are unlikely to be on-site at Universities in the near future, we will continue to pursue these potential links and will promote OCCA and our bursaries via social media. We will keep our membership updated as we make the bursary awards. For more details, visit our website: www.occa.org.uk/bursaries