University of Leicester leads Centre including researchers from universities of Birmingham, Nottingham and 14 industrial and international partners

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 22 November 2013

The University of Leicester is to lead a new consortium of academic and industrial partners that aims to train tomorrow’s engineers and scientists.

Leicester is the lead institution in the new Centre for Doctoral Training in Innovative Metal Processing (CIMP), which brings together world-class metals research teams from the universities of Birmingham and Nottingham along with 14 industrial and international partners.

This is part of a £350 million initiative to train over 3,500 post graduate students in engineering and physical sciences, announced today by Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts.

This is the UK’s largest investment in post graduate training in engineering and physical sciences. It will fund over seventy new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), spread across 24 UK universities.

The funding, targeted at areas vital to economic growth, has been allocated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester Professor Sir Robert Burgess said:

“Winning the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre is important in affirming Leicester’s position as a leading university for postgraduate research.  We are proud to be invited to train a future generation of researchers.”

Professor Hongbiao Dong, Director of the new Centre, from the University of Leicester Department of Engineering, said: “Metal processing is important to the UK economy. Our Centre provides a stimulating framework through access to distinctive but complementary environments, covering coherent knowledge of metal processing technologies, including casting, welding, surface engineering and net-shape forming.

“It provides students with an enriched integrated training with the combination of experimental, analytical, computational and professional skills which are required for innovation.  Our students will lead the UK, in particular the aerospace and energy sectors, to new levels of innovation and added value.”

Science Minister David Willetts said: “Scientists and engineers are vital to our economy and society. It is their talent and imagination, as well as their knowledge and skills, that inspire innovation and drive growth across a range of sectors, from manufacturing to financial services.

“I am particularly pleased to see strong partnerships between universities, industry and business among the new centres announced today. This type of collaboration is a key element of our industrial strategy and will continue to keep us at the forefront of the global science race.”

A total of 1000 partners will be involved in the Centres, leveraging in around £250 million worth of support. Many of the Centres will involve research that connects to key industries and important technologies which will aid innovation and growth. EPSRC may announce a further group of Centres if more resource can be secured.

Today’s announcement takes place at a press conference at the top of BT Tower in London where a number of CDT Directors, students and industry representatives will be on hand to talk with media.  BT is involved in seven CDTs, providing both financial and partnership support.

Paul Golby, EPSRC’s Chair, said: “Centres for Doctoral Training have already proved to be a great success and the model is popular with students, business and industry. These new centres will give the country the highly trained scientists and engineers it needs and they will be equipped with skills to move on in their careers. The standard of applications for Centres was very high and more could have been funded if we had the capacity.”

Sir James Dyson, design engineer and founder of Dyson, whose firm is involved in seven CDTs, said:

“To compete internationally Britain needs to export world-beating inventions which are the result of intellectual property developed by our companies and universities.  We must support British engineers and scientists at all levels, rewarding them properly for their work. This investment is heartening, but genuine research and development takes time. Continuing robust investment is required if we are to see the breakthroughs which will deliver the growth we require.”

As part of the event EPSRC’s CEO, Professor David Delpy and BT’s Research MD, Tim Whitley will officially sign a Memorandum of Understanding to cement collaborative working.

This much closer relationship will help to ensure that long-term pre-competitive research in priority areas, which align with EPSRC and BT’s strategies, delivers not just academic excellence, but high levels of economic and societal impact.