Dr Nicola Symonds

Unit Head


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Our Approach

We bring a combination of expertise, curiosity and scientific rigour to every project. Think of us as engineering detectives, ready to investigate every angle of your engineering problem and find the best way to solve it.

We’re tenacious in our quest for answers and thrive on the challenge of getting to the bottom of an issue so that you can move your R&D forward.

As an independent unit within a university, we offer the best of both worlds – experienced consultants with a sole focus on industry projects, plus all the specialist expertise and facilities of a world-leading academic institution at our fingertips.

What we do

We specialise in industry engineering problems that involve materials or surface science, mechanical testing, failure investigation and corrosion control. Our customers come to us to gain insights into materials composition or performance for reasons such as:

  • product development
  • design optimisation
  • to find out why something has gone wrong

We also provide subject matter expertise, which is a cost-effective way to bridge knowledge gaps in your company. This could be on an ad hoc basis, as a ‘virtual team member’ during a project’s life cycle, or through site visits to review and analyse your processes.

How we work

We tailor each project to individual clients’ requirements.

Investigate: We’ll discuss the issue with you to get a full understanding of what you want to achieve. We know the right questions to ask to get the data you need.

Design your package: We’ll build a package to meet your requirements and find the best person to do the job, either within our team or from our pool of university specialists.

Report back: When the work is done, we’ll produce the information you need in a format that suits you, including a face-to-face or virtual meeting to discuss results as needed.

Photographs of Nicola, JB and Ilaira working in the nC2 labs

Flexible packages

Initial consultations are free. If you decide to go ahead, you can choose from a range of packages to suit your project and budget, such as:

  • Fixed cost fully inclusive – suits small consultancy tasks
  • Per test rate – suits tribological and mechanical testing work
  • Per day rate (capped) – ideal for failure investigations and subject matter expertise services
  • Framework agreement – for large multi-package works

Get in touch to discuss the best package for your project.

Our client promise

  • Testing and analysis of the highest quality
  • Independent, evidence-based advice
  • Strict confidentiality
  • Results within your timescale
  • Friendly, efficient customer service
  • Jargon-free communication

We conduct our business in line with the University of Southampton’s environmental and ethical standards. Our internal policies are aligned with ISO9001 (awaiting accreditation).

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