Funding will help Brunel set up structural integrity centre

Brunel University has been awarded £15m of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) as part of a new £60m initiative to establish a National Research Centre for Structural Integrity.

According to Brunel, the remaining £45m will come from industry.

Brunel’s lead co-partner for the new centre, which will be based in Cambridge, is technology engineering research and consultancy TWI.

Other partners will include companies from the rail, marine, aerospace and energy sectors as well as University College London (UCL) and the universities of Cambridge and Manchester.

Once established, the purpose-built national centre will house more than 100 postgraduate-taught and research students and more than 50 staff, providing facilities for engineering and materials research in the UK.

Teresa Waller, director of research support and development at Brunel and co-ordinator of the proposal to HEFCE, said: ‘This centre, one of only seven new bids to be awarded funding, will build a national research capability that will support economic growth by carrying out application-led research programmes with TWI and industry partners. It will also provide… postgraduate training opportunities to address the UK’s future skills requirements for engineers in this multidisciplinary field.’

Brunel’s pro-vice-chancellor for research Prof Geoff Rodgers emphasised the importance of the new national centre’s role in equipping UK industry with engineers who can lead the development of new products in industries ranging from oil and gas and energy generation to aerospace, road transport and medical devices.

‘This award is a great opportunity… to create and lead a national centre where universities and industry can carry out research addressing the long-term challenges associated with making materials and structures safer,’ he said.

Seven new university and business partnerships have been awarded funding, taking the total number of winning bids from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (RPIF) to 14.

See below for details of the remaining six projects in receipt of latest funding from the UK RPIF.

  • A £38m partnership between Manchester University, the Christie hospital and Cancer Research UK to develop the Manchester Cancer Research Centre. This will look at cancer treatments targeted at individuals based on the specific characteristics of their tumour biology. It will span laboratory research through to clinical trials and patient care and focus on five research areas: radiation therapy, lung cancer, women’s cancers, melanoma and haematological oncology.
  • An £85m partnership between UCL and Great Ormond Street Hospital. The Centre for Children’s Rare Disease Research will combine the specialist research expertise of the UCL Institute of Child Health with the unique patient cohort at Great Ormond Street to find treatments and cures for rare diseases, of which more than 6,000 have been identified.
  • A £32m partnership between Queen’s University Belfast, the Atlantic Philanthropies, a Wellcome-Wolfson Capital Award, the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust and the Insight Trust for the Visually Impaired to deliver the next phase of the Institute of Health Sciences. The Centre for Experimental Medicine will bring researchers working on vision sciences onto the campus alongside new research programmes in diabetes and genomics.
  • A £34m partnership between Nottingham University and GlaxoSmithKline to support the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Chemistry. This will be housed within the new Carbon Neutral Laboratory and will minimise environmental impact. It will ensure that chemistry becomes more energy and resource efficient and sustainable in meeting society’s needs for better medicines, safer agrochemicals and new materials.
  • A £38m partnership between Swansea University, British Petroleum (BP) and TATA Steel Europe for the development of the Energy Safety Research Institute. This will capitalise on the university’s strengths in petroleum and chemical processing and focus on the safety issues surrounding the development of existing energy processes, as well as the safe deployment and integration of new green energy technologies.
  • A £150m partnership between Imperial College London and Voreda to contribute to the development of a major new campus adjacent to the White City regeneration area. The centrepiece will be the Research and Translation Hub, which will provide high-specification research and incubator space for 1,000 researchers investigating next-generation materials and spin-out companies. 

All projects will have to include private funding from industry or the charitable sector worth a minimum of double the public contribution.

Source: HEFCE