Enter a partnership with the University and a high calibre graduate for a period of between 6 months and 3 years and help develop your company for today’s market.
A model railway system
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)*between the University of Birmingham and Atkins is developing a multi-trainrailway simulator (MTS) to provide the capability for advanced simulation work that addresses future sustainability, carbon and legislative issues.
Atkins is a major consultancy company that provides knowledge, application, innovation and expertise to the rail industry across many rail engineering and non-engineering disciplines. The Company needed to develop its own software simulation tools for use in modeling AC/DC railway infrastructure as the existing commercial modelling tools available do not allow access to the source code, and therefore, provide very little control on the solution methods used.
Working with Professor Clive Roberts and Drs Stuart Hillmansen and Paul Weston from the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education the collaboration aims to provide Atkins with the capability to develop the required skills and competences to develop a MTS and to keep it continually up-to-date. In particular, the KTP project has looked at innovative ways to address the requirements of current electrical safety standards and the need to ensure that new designs take into account carbon critical design. The engineering tool is also being developed with a unique feature which will simulate anticipated operating timetable in a ‘real time’ manner to assess the performance and behaviour of the operational railway.
‘The MTS tool being developed with the University of Birmingham will increase Atkins capability and competitiveness in this area and enable us to offer our clients designs to develop and operate the railway infrastructure that minimise carbon emissions.’
Roger White, Professional Head of Electrification and Plant for Atkins Rail Division
The Supplies Group (TSG), an internet retailer, acquires all its customers through online marketing, mostly at a financial loss, with the hope of selling other products to them in the future. As the Company did not know, or understand, the profile of the most valuable customers they felt that the return on their investment in customer acquisition and retention was not being maximized.
Working with researchers from the University’s School of Computer Science, led by Dr Peter Tino, the Company embarked on a KTP project* which developed methods to represent customers based on patterns of historical sales data and to predict their Life Time Value (LTV). Algorithms were developed to identify the most important product families with the potential to indicate customers with high future profitability.
The KTP has had considerable impact with TSG having recruited 3 postgraduates from the University to take forward, and build on, the results of the project, and an expectation that a further 3 posts will be created. Furthermore TSG is predicting a £2.5M pa increase in customer acquisition revenue and a 15% increase in existing customer LTV which will contribute to an additional £2M of potential annual revenue growth. A further two EPSRC* funded projects have also evolved from this project.
The project outputs will give TSG a tangible competitive advantage in online customer acquisition efforts. The work will allow us to identify customers of high value and target our marketing budget to maximise acquisition of such customer groups while minimizing exposure to low value customers’.
Noah Gresham, The Supplies Group
Keeping Birmingham Cool
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council is helping to provide the necessary evidence to ensure the effective delivery of the Council’s long term vision that the City ‘will be the UK’s first sustainable global city with a low-carbon energy infrastructure and well prepared for the impact of climate change’. The KTP will seek to quantify for the first time the combined impact of the ‘Urban heat island’ and climate change up to 2100 in Birmingham.
Urban heat island is the term used to describe the phenomenon of higher night time temperature levels being recorded in metropolitan areas than those that are recorded in rural areas. This is mainly due to the fact that the building materials used in urban areas retain heat gained during the day and release it slowly at night. Observations of the heat island in Birmingham show that on some nights temperatures in the city can be 8°C higher, much stronger than the usual 1 or 2°C. This can put considerable heat stress on the built infrastructure and on individuals living in a city that has already experienced extreme weather events such as thunderstorms and tornadoes.
Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said, ‘The 2003 heatwave saw temperatures top 38.5°C nationally, which caused over 2,000 excess deaths in the UK. Research suggests these could be average summer temperatures by 2040 as our climate continues to warm and extreme weather becomes more frequent and intense – so we need to understand how future weather events will affect people’s health and the city’s infrastructure, which is exactly what this project will enable us to do.’
Surprisingly the latest national climate change scenarios that are available do not take into account the urban heat island effect. Working with Professor John Thornes, Dr Xiaoming Cai and Dr Lee Chapman in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham the KTP will seek to fill this gap. Existing climate modeling skills and expertise residing at the University will be transferred to the City Council via an easy to use climate change adaptation planning tool called the BUCCANEER (Birmingham Urban Climate Change Adaptation with Neighbourhood Estimates of Environmental Risk).
‘The project will certainly put Birmingham at the forefront of research into understanding the impact of climate change at a neighbourhood level in cities. It will provide vital information for a range of Council services in the City as well as being key to the effective adaptive responses of Birmingham City Council partners, in particular the NHS.’
Sandy Taylor at Birmingham City Council