Driving Innovation

We are driving innovation with industry and manufacturing partners to transform industries and deliver growth to our economies, thereby helping to improve people’s livelihoods.

Our research in advanced manufacturing and engineering is driving growth in our city, the West Midland region and across the UK. Our long-term sustained commitment to supporting original fundamental research has a track record of success, translating into significant strategic areas of innovation, making a difference to commerce and industry.

We have long-standing collaborations with multi-national partners, such as Rolls-Royce plc - through their University Technology Centre in Birmingham - that has led to commercial, production and environmental benefits from scientific research in casting, materials and manufacturing.

Our original research in Quantum Technology sensors and clocks has attracted over £11.5m of funding, enabling an ecosystem of over 70 companies now engaging with QT research that continues to influence the success of the QT sector in the UK.

Read more about our real-world impact and how our research is driving growth and innovation, attracting investment and forging strategic connections with SMEs, industry and government.

Translating research into economic growth

We translate our research into industry through our signature assets, expertise and research, in which we are continuing to make significant investment, building on historic working links.

Our long-standing partnership with Rolls Royce plc led to the creation of our £60m High Temperature Research Centre, creating a world-class casting design simulation and manufacturing facility and directly benefiting the manufacturing sector.

The National Buried Infrastructure Facility (NBIF) will help improve how buried infrastructure such as tunnels and pipes are managed. It supports the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors in testing gravimeters and gradiometers and other commercial partners applying geophysical techniques to locate and assess the condition of buried services.

Transforming Global Rail Industry

The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research (BCRRE) is now Europe’s largest academic-based group, providing world-class research, education, and innovation to the global rail industry, specialising in digital systems and rail decarbonisation.

We are also the lead partner in the £92m UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), a collaboration between academic centres of excellence and the rail industry, aiming to provide a step-change in innovation in the sector and accelerate new technologies and products from research into market applications globally.

Addressing manufacturing challenges by creating circular economies

Vital technologies, from communications devices to electric vehicles, depend on raw materials. Our Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials is finding solutions to reducing critical material dependency by substituting lithium batteries with more sustainable sodium-ion alternatives and developing technologies to recycle and reuse lithium-ion batteries.

The Birmingham Plastics Network aims to create a sustainable future for plastics which make a positive contribution to our social, economic and environmental well-being without the negative impacts across their life cycle. Instead of creating a plastic-free world, the team is carrying out research to discover ways to create a sustainable-plastic world in which plastics are a valuable asset rather than an unaffordable liability.

As we look to the future, the decarbonisation of manufacturing is a significant global energy challenge, and one which we will need to address if we are to meet our 2050 net-zero goals. In partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, we have launched a new research group, which will seek to transform the sector through sustainable manufacturing technologies and processes.

The University of Birmingham recognises the importance of business-led innovation and that knowledge exchange between academia and industry will drive national growth.

Our long-standing partnership with Rolls-Royce defines this belief and underscores the global influence of our metallurgical research and the significant contribution this makes to the national manufacturing economy.

Professor Paul Bowen

Professor Paul Bowen

Feeney Professor of Metallurgy

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