The University's ongoing partnership with Siemens will, among other projects, create the smartest university campus in the world.
About the partnership
The strategic partnership between the University of Birmingham and Siemens is focussed on collaboration in areas such as smart infrastructure, mobility, energy and health.
Most recently, the partnership will help us to achieve our carbon neutrality roadmap by deploying specialist technology to create a digital twin of the campus energy system to identify the optimal pathway to net zero.
This will be achieved by combining digital sensor and analytic technologies, artificial intelligence, decentralised energy generation and storage, renewable energy and concepts that help change users’ behaviour to transform the University’s Edgbaston and Dubai campuses into the world’s smartest global campus, creating a ‘Living Lab’ where research, teaching and learning all benefit from access to new data and connectivity.
What is a Living Lab?
The ‘Living Lab’ will capture data from the University’s building technologies, estates infrastructure and energy plants and use it for innovation, R&D activities, as well as teaching. Scrutinising energy demand and production -from systems to individual consumers/producers (prosumers)- with live data from across the sites provides a unique opportunity for applied learning for students and creates a platform for cutting-edge research.
The University of Birmingham will become the first University in the world to rollout Internet of Things (IoT) technology at scale. Starting in Autumn 2021, the first phase major energy efficiency project will include the roll out of 23,000 Enlighted IoT sensors across the University estate.
In addition, Siemens will deliver a 10-year bureau for Energy and IoT services to ensure that the University reaps the full potential of both the technology and industry expertise. The University has already made significant progress in making its operations more sustainable, including achieving its 2020 target of reducing carbon emissions by 20% and is constantly looking to improve the environmental performance of its buildings including a reduction of 2,856 tCO2 annually, equivalent to 5% of the University’s current emissions.
Read the Press Release
East Birmingham ‘digital twin’ will drive innovation and improvements in the city
A ‘digital twin’ that can comprehensively model and test pathways to clean energy and net zero emissions in East Birmingham is being planned in a partnership between the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City Council and Siemens.
A feasibility study has been commissioned which demonstrates how a virtual representation of the energy and transport infrastructure within East Birmingham and Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District (TEED) will help to outline pathways for decarbonisation.
The digital twin’s aim is to provide a digital testbed where the impacts of innovations such as smart homes, clean air zones, or neighbourhood growth strategies can be modelled and analysed in a digital environment ahead of any real investment, ensuring every pound spent delivers expected results.
The feasibility report describes how a digital twin could enable scenario planning for energy-related retrofit activities. This would allow for planners to model different measures across housing types – detached housing to high-rise developments – to find those that maximise benefits for residents and the environment. These can be tested at a local level and then scaled up city-wide in the digital world.
Download the report
Fostering innovation through strategic partnerships
The partnership is designed to encourage innovation and collaboration at all levels. Siemens will sponsor a team of PhD studentships at the University based in the UK and Dubai. Their research projects will be co-designed by Siemens and the University to address important challenges in data, technology, urban systems and the net zero goal.
To support innovation in the SME community, both Siemens and the University of Birmingham participated in the recent Future Networks Lab Challenge, run by the Digital Catapult, and selected NodeNS, with its compelling sensor solution, as the winner from a very competitive field. It is planned that this will lead to on field trials on our campus– in Birmingham and potentially Dubai.
More on our partnership with Siemens
In April 2021, Siemens Mobility and the University of Birmingham signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a centre of excellence for rail research and innovation in Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire. The Rail accelerator and innovation solutions hub for Enterprise (RaisE) is a government, industry and academia public-private investment in the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN). It will transform the Rail Village adjacent to the Siemens Mobility £200m manufacturing and living lab facility in Goole into a world-leading rail innovation and skills ecosystem. The RaisE hub will enable the UK's leading innovators to co-locate with ambitious supply chain companies within the supplier park at the Rail Village, providing the facilities and expertise for large and small companies to develop, test, validate and deploy innovative low carbon, autonomous products and systems, utilising robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.
In June 2020, the University of Birmingham received a PraxisAuril Knowledge Exchange award for its partnership with Siemens Mobility, showcasing a best in class example of developing business and academic collaboration: “driving innovation in the rail industry and beyond”.
Sustainability at heart