March 2013 Newsletter

Welcome to our third Uniquip newsletter and the last one you will be receiving from the Uniquip collective in its current form.

The Uniquip project is drawing to a close and the next phase of activity which will take place under the brand with development and launch of a national equipment portal.  This newsletter brings together all that Uniquip has achieved and looks forward to what the future holds.

Uniquip has been funded by the EPSRC and its director Lesley Thompson has provided us with her thoughts on the equipment sharing agenda and its future.

We appreciate all the support Uniquip has received from you and we look forward to continuing dialogue as

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to any interested colleagues, many thanks.

The Uniquip Team

Thank you by Lesley Thompson, Director - Research Base, EPSRC

‘When I came and spoke at the Uniquip seminar in September last year I talked about a desire within EPSRC and more widely across RCUK to encourage higher education institutions to work towards a national picture for equipment and facilities sharing. It is therefore very pleasing for me to see the launch of and to know that the national portal,, is bringing together and enabling the regional sharing clusters to now share nationally.

‘I also talked about future game changers and mentioned open data as a possible one to watch, I think it’s now safe to say the open data agenda has become, and will continue to be, a key driver in the evolution of research within higher education. Adapting to that change is essential and what Uniquip has achieved and what will continue to accomplish is very pleasing.

‘Let me take this opportunity to thank not only the Uniquip team but all the institutions and partner organisations that have contributed to its success. I look forward to more updates and developments throughout 2013.’

Uniquip achievements

Uniquip has been a collaborative effort between the universities of Southampton, Loughborough, Leeds and Bath. We have worked together to establish how and where there needed to be a common approach involved in sharing equipment and facilities between universities and the wider world.

Our initial aims were -
  • Mapping of taxonomies to evaluate the potential for a common standard of core data about equipment. 
  • Getting input into a vocabulary to help classify equipment
  • Exploring technical models and tools for creating shared databases

What we have achieved has paved the way for the next phase of equipment and facilities sharing, and has done so alongside some other big changes and developments from organisations including Gateway to Research, Casrai and the Open Data Institute.
  • Taxonomies - The University of Leeds equipment taxonomy was produced to group and classify research equipment according to their primary function. Further development of the taxonomy has been achieved with inputs from the N8 universities. To produce a national equipment taxonomy, the N8 taxonomy is currently being combined with the classification system produced by the University of Oxford and a draft of the national taxonomy will be published in the Uniquip project report.
  • It is our intention that this becomes an RCUK endorsed taxonomy and is promoted as a viable option for any institution in need of an equipment and/or facilities taxonomy.
  • Vocabularies – we undertook a national survey, lead by the University of Bath, to capture the views and experiences of stakeholders so we could design a 'standard' within the development of equipment sharing databases. As a result we now have a potential schema for a National Equipment Database, reflecting opinion on where some potential sub field names could be incorporated.  Clarity of definition on potential standard vocabulary will need to be investigated further through consultation with the potential user base.
  • Tools for sharing – Our developments are being taken forward under the brand and in association with organisations such as Casrai and RCUK. is a community development providing a single point of contact for linked open data development. It provides access to the know-how and tools to discuss and create linked data and data aggregation sites, and also enables access to, and the creation of, large aggregated data sets providing powerful and flexible collections of information. We are also working closely with other key advocates of the sharing agenda including RCUK, GtR , Open Data Institute, BIS, JISC, ARMA and Casrai.

Next time you hear from us...

As we head into the next phase of activity the newly relaunched and rebranded site is now live, as is the UK's first national equipment data sharing portal We will continue to keep you updated on project progress and industry news under this new banner. Look out for the first newsletter.


Vocab survey results

Thank you very much to everyone who participated in the Uniquip vocabulary survey.

The survey was designed to provide feedback which would help us design a 'standard' within the development of equipment sharing databases.  This standard would then be used to inform decision making in the development of inter-connective equipment sharing databases nationally and even potentially internationally.

The results have enabled us to produce a potential schema for a National Equipment Database, reflecting opinion on where some potential sub field names could be incorporated. We are continuing to work to clarify the definition on potential standard vocabulary with conclusions and recommendations included within the final Uniquip project report. 



M5 Universities website launches

The new M5 Universities website has now been launched, which includes the UK’s first regional equipment sharing database, containing specialised equipment that can be shared between the six leading research-intensive Midlands Universities.

The M5 Universities, consisting of Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Warwick and Aston, have formed a partnership to enhance the potential of collaborative research and to improve the sharing of equipment. The group is working closely to develop the necessary tools to facilitate effective equipment sharing. The new searchable online database is powered by Loughborough’s Kit-Catalogue® system.


New Kit Catalogue release

The newest instalment of Kit-Catalogue - v.1.2 - was released in early February.

Following much discussion with the Kit-Catalogue user group, v.1.2 features new administration and permission options, as well as extra fields and functionality. Of particular interest to Uniquip will be:

  • Support for data licensing information on the catalogue front-end, as well as the API.
  • More item fields supporting institutional structures and organisational units, e.g. Faculty and/or School.
  • Expanded API allowing access to more item fields.

The new software is available to download from the Kit-Catalogue website.


Thanks again

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