Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay arrives in Jamaica with University of Birmingham

As the Queen’s Baton reaches Jamaica, University of Birmingham rail experts partner with the University of Technology, Jamaica

Clive Roberts and Larisa McBean with Batobearer certificate

Professor Clive Roberts presents Larisa McBean with her Batonbearer certificate

Experts from the University of Birmingham and University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech, Jamaica) will work together to advance the development of railway engineering and transport in Jamaica.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the universities will create opportunities for researchers to work together on engineering and related projects, as well as boosting the development of networks with local railway agencies.

The agreement was signed during the first International Symposium on Railway Engineering, held jointly by UTech, Jamaica and the University of Birmingham. The two-day event saw delegates discuss railways in Jamaica, global rail perspectives and opportunities for UK-Jamaica partnership working.

The symposium marked the arrival in Jamaica of the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay, of which the University of Birmingham is an official partner.

Birmingham and UTech, Jamaica alumna Larisa McBean was invited to be a Batonbearer. Larisa’s research areas include sports tourism as a vehicle to socio-economic development and alignment of tourism investment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Jamaica.

Larisa’s community development work feeds into longer-term infrastructure projects, including the development of railways in Jamaica - promoting better connectivity and mobility for the island’s communities.

I am extremely proud to be Batonbearer, and connected to both these fine institutions, UTech and the University of Birmingham. Community development is at the heart of national development, which is why I am proud to work for the development of Jamaican communities through tourism. In keeping with Jamaica’s 60th Independence anniversary and the theme: ‘Reigniting a Nation for Greatness’, I believe that this partnership between UTech and the University of Birmingham will serve to reignite Jamaica’s railways, and the many communities that they serve.”

Larisa McBean, Batonbearer

The symposium featured keynote addresses by Professor Clive Roberts, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham, and Oneil Josephs, Head, School of Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Computing at UTech, Jamaica. The event and MOU signing were made possible by Dr Kevin Brown, leader of the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council.

Representatives from UTech, the University of Birmingham, and the Jamaica Diaspora Council UK standing with Baton

From left: Dr Marcelo Blumenfeld, Dr Oneil Josephs, Head of Engineering, UTech, Dr Paulton Gordon, Community Development Director, Professor Clive Roberts, Larisa McBean, UTech Dr Kevin Brown Chair of the Jamaica Diaspora Council UK, Dr Robin Coombes

We’re joining forces with UTech, Jamaica to develop world-leading railway technologies, drawing together expertise at both institutions. With strong industry links in both countries, we’re looking forward to delivering solutions that can be rapidly adopted by the rail sector.”

Professor Clive Roberts

Professor Roberts also attended an event at the University of the West Indies Jamaica (UWI) to mark the Baton’s arrival in Jamaica. The University of Birmingham has an established partnership with UWI - the first AHRC funded project: Decolonizing Voices in 2014, was followed by an exchange agreement to widen mobility opportunities between our universities.

UTech, Jamaica’s partnership with the University of Birmingham for technical cooperation on railway rehabilitation efforts in Jamaica will positively impact capacity building in support of research, knowledge and competency in modern rail technology. We are excited about the prospects of combining expertise from both our institutions towards providing innovation and sustainable solutions to Jamaica’s broader thrust for railway technology development.”

Oneil Josephs

The University’s environmental scientists have helped create a hi-tech ‘heart’ for the Queen’s Baton, which contains atmospheric sensors with laser technology that analyses the environmental conditions wherever it is in the world. Augmented Reality (AR) will be used to visualise creatively data captured throughout the journey to invite conversations around air quality across the Commonwealth.

Data collected on the Baton’s journey will contribute to ongoing research projects being conducted across the globe by a team led by atmospheric scientist Professor Francis Pope.

Atmospheric data captured during the Baton’s global journey will be highly valuable in starting important conversations around air quality across the Commonwealth.”

Professor Francis Pope

The University of Birmingham is planning a series of events to mark the Baton’s progress through countries where it has particularly strong research and education partnerships.

The University of Birmingham is a civic university with a global outlook. Our Commonwealth connections are collaborative and wide-ranging. Sport is a unifying force and, as part of our commitment to supporting the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, we are holding a series of academic, student and partner events in Commonwealth countries to coincide with the Queen’s Baton Relay visit. I am delighted that we can hold these exciting events, focussing on how we work collaboratively with research and education partners to tackle global challenges.”

Professor Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham

Notes for editors

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 9,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The University has the most extensive education partnership of any Commonwealth Games and will host the athletes in its student accommodation, as well as providing a venue for hockey and squash.

About the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay

  • The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Games tradition that celebrates, connects and excites communities from across Commonwealth during the build up to the Games.
  • Birmingham 2022 is staging the 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay – an epic journey across the Commonwealth, with The Queen’s Baton visiting all 72 nations and territories, reaching Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas.
  • The Relay began on 7 October 2021 at Buckingham Palace.
  • The Baton will travel for 294 days, visiting all 72 nations and territories and connecting communities in every corner of the Commonwealth, embracing unique cultures and sharing stories. 
  • This collective journey will ignite hope, solidarity and collaboration for the next generation, with these stories leaving us all inspired to take on the challenges that matter most to us. 

About the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games  

  • The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will be held from 28 July until 8 August 2022, will be a major opportunity to feature the city, the region, and its people on the global stage.   
  • The Games is already proving to be a catalyst for transformation across the West Midlands, attracting new investment and funding, creating jobs and apprenticeships for local people and new opportunities for local businesses, as well as accelerating projects that will ensure the region is ready to host a fantastic sports and cultural celebration.   
  • Birmingham 2022 will be the Games for everyone, bringing people together from across Birmingham and the region, to provide a warm welcome to millions of visitors during the summer of 2022.