The University Technology Partnership between BAe, Rolls-Royce and three universities adds another dimension to the activities of the Virtual University.
The companies will invest £1.5m with the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University, the computation engineering and design centre at Southampton University, and at Sheffield University’s Institute of Work Psychology.
In a five-year rolling programme, the organisations will undertake research to optimise human and technical aspects of the design process, with the aim of shortening timescales, cutting costs, and fostering innovation and simplicity.
The partners believe the UTP will provide a model for Defence and Aerospace Research Partnerships (Darps), proposed by the Defence and Aerospace Foresight panel.
These are intended to enhance the success for the UK’s defence and aerospace industries through closer links with universities.
They are envisaged as flexible, university-based, industry led centres which will focus on specific research themes. Funding would come from a consortium or a single company, with support from agencies such as the MoD and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Re-search Council.
Criteria for accreditation as a Darp include alignment with the Foresight panel’s priorities; a focused research programme with ‘a high probability of producing high quality outputs’ and a clear plan for exploitation; and collaboration between at least two partners with a commitment from both industry and academia, for a minimum of three years.
The Office of Science and Technology is seeking proposals for Darps. Successful bids will be announced in December.