Research and innovation

How is this different to what we did before?

Students working in NCCAT

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings, discusses the importance of amplifying the University's research and innovation achievements, and how supporting these areas will help create an impactful eco-system.

Professor Nick Jennings CB, FREng, Vice-Chancellor and President, Loughborough University

Professor Nick Jennings CB, FREng, Vice-Chancellor and President, Loughborough University

Professor Nick Jennings CB, FREng, Vice-Chancellor and President, Loughborough University


World-class universities are strong in research, education and innovation/enterprise. We are sector-leading in terms of our education and student experience, but our research and innovation activities need more institutional priority. This increased focus cannot come at the expense of our educational offering and so achieving this rebalancing will be hard. But it is essential if we want to progress.

To inform our choices, several working groups are exploring the associated issues and tradeoffs. They will report back later in the year. Here, however, I want to focus on research and innovation.  

I believe the distinction we have previously made between research and enterprise is largely artificial and that our capacity for both is enhanced through greater alignment. I use the term "innovation" here because I believe it covers a broader range of activities than its closely related counterpart "enterprise". At Loughborough, enterprise has previously been defined as: 'Engagement with business, public and voluntary organisations to create social, cultural and economic impact through knowledge exchange.'

Innovation covers all of this and more. Innovation additionally includes the process of creating and applying new ideas, discoveries and inventions that, through engaging with governments, business and charities, have the potential to deliver societal and/or economic benefit, locally, nationally and globally, as well as the breadth of engagements that are crucial to achieving these positive impacts. 

When I talk about research and innovation being intertwined, what I mean is that because of our institutional history and culture, much of our research is inspired by real-world problems in areas such as health and wellbeing, climate change, and social inequity. Developing innovative solutions to these problems often requires fundamental research advances and these can take many years to come to fruition. Moreover, the very process of applying them generates further research challenges. This coupling lies at the heart of an impactful research and innovation eco-system. A successful institution should also have a healthy mix of research that is undertaken for reasons of curiosity and discovery, and we must ensure that such endeavours can flourish at Loughborough.   


Enduring partnerships

For research and innovation to change the world for the better, it is often necessary to work in partnership with others and to work across the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines. We have a long and proud tradition of doing both. There are numerous examples of our research improving the lives of individuals and our society through deep and enduring partnerships with governments, businesses and charities: 

Researchers working in the National centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology
Rolls Royce employee working in the National Centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology
Mother and baby on bus
Plastic waste packaged up

ROLLS-ROYCE

With Rolls-Royce, our fundamental research on aerothermal and combustion technologies led to a fuel burn saving in the Trent XWB aeroengine that equates to a reduction of 70 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

This partnership, that started over 50 years ago, has led to the creation of the National Centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology - a global open-access centre of excellence delivering low-emissions technology for the aerospace sector. 

MINIMUM INCOME STANDARD

With the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, our research into the Minimum Income Standard has transformed the understanding of what income people in the UK need as a minimum to meet the material needs to participate in society.

This work provides evidence to support the setting of The Real Living Wage paid by nearly 9,000 employers in the UK, resulting to date in almost 300,000 employees receiving a pay rise. 

PLASTIC ENERGY

With Plastic Energy, our materials analysis and characterisation research, as well as our hands-on process design and management capabilities, supports the safe recycling of plastics to create a range of useful materials. This reduces the environmental impact of plastic production and end-of-life processing. The company is also increasing its presence on campus with a specialist facility on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park.

And as an industry partner in the University-led National Interdisciplinary Centre for the Circular Chemical Economy, Plastic Energy is pushing the boundaries of chemical recycling, making it greener than ever before. 


Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park

We are an anchor institution in both the East Midlands and in East London, employing over 3,000 staff and working with our partners to secure economic growth and prosperity for local communities and the wider regions through our research and innovation expertise. 

Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP) is central to this. It is one of the biggest in the UK, being home to over 90 start-ups, growing businesses, global brands and sports organisations. 

Below, is a gallery of some of the campus partners on LUSEP, followed by further examples of these organisations and the benefits that co-location on the University campus brings.

Jules Energy staff outside ATIC building

Jules Energy has developed a platform that offers a dynamic approach towards the energy market, to make trading on the energy markets more transparent and achievable. The company established a UK base in LUSEP’s Advanced Technology Innovation Centre in 2020.

Jules Energy has developed a platform that offers a dynamic approach towards the energy market, to make trading on the energy markets more transparent and achievable. The company established a UK base in LUSEP’s Advanced Technology Innovation Centre in 2020.

DR Chowdhury in lab space at LUSEP

Founded at LUSEP in 2011 Nemaura Medical has pushed the boundaries of non-invasive and minimally invasive wearable diagnostic devices, expanding its technology offering to encompass multiple sensors and AI driven digital platforms, positioning itself to become a significant player in the global digital health and wellness revolution. It has recently tripled its medical workforce creating many highly skilled jobs and closed $42 million in funding over the last 18 months.

Founded at LUSEP in 2011 Nemaura Medical has pushed the boundaries of non-invasive and minimally invasive wearable diagnostic devices, expanding its technology offering to encompass multiple sensors and AI driven digital platforms, positioning itself to become a significant player in the global digital health and wellness revolution. It has recently tripled its medical workforce creating many highly skilled jobs and closed $42 million in funding over the last 18 months.

Armstrong building - new HQ for the Access Group - opening

Business technology specialist and campus partner since 2016 The Access Group has committed to creating 500 new jobs as it officially unveiled its purpose-built HQ on LUSEP. (c) The Access Group.

Business technology specialist and campus partner since 2016 The Access Group has committed to creating 500 new jobs as it officially unveiled its purpose-built HQ on LUSEP. (c) The Access Group.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) is the anchor tenant in the £9 million expansion of SportPark, on LUSEP. UKAD’s relocation from London presents an opportunity to strengthen its long-standing relationship with the University, as well as engage with athletes and sports based in the local area.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) is the anchor tenant in the £9 million expansion of SportPark, on LUSEP. UKAD’s relocation from London presents an opportunity to strengthen its long-standing relationship with the University, as well as engage with athletes and sports based in the local area.

SportPark building

SportPark at LUSEP already houses the UK’s highest concentration of sports governing bodies and national sports organisations, and the £9 million expansion – scheduled for completion in winter 2022 – will provide the capacity to welcome yet more mission-driven organisations to the University, and to further anchor the region as an internationally important Sports Innovation Hub.

SportPark at LUSEP already houses the UK’s highest concentration of sports governing bodies and national sports organisations, and the £9 million expansion – scheduled for completion in winter 2022 – will provide the capacity to welcome yet more mission-driven organisations to the University, and to further anchor the region as an internationally important Sports Innovation Hub.

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Jules Energy staff outside ATIC building

Jules Energy has developed a platform that offers a dynamic approach towards the energy market, to make trading on the energy markets more transparent and achievable. The company established a UK base in LUSEP’s Advanced Technology Innovation Centre in 2020.

Jules Energy has developed a platform that offers a dynamic approach towards the energy market, to make trading on the energy markets more transparent and achievable. The company established a UK base in LUSEP’s Advanced Technology Innovation Centre in 2020.

DR Chowdhury in lab space at LUSEP

Founded at LUSEP in 2011 Nemaura Medical has pushed the boundaries of non-invasive and minimally invasive wearable diagnostic devices, expanding its technology offering to encompass multiple sensors and AI driven digital platforms, positioning itself to become a significant player in the global digital health and wellness revolution. It has recently tripled its medical workforce creating many highly skilled jobs and closed $42 million in funding over the last 18 months.

Founded at LUSEP in 2011 Nemaura Medical has pushed the boundaries of non-invasive and minimally invasive wearable diagnostic devices, expanding its technology offering to encompass multiple sensors and AI driven digital platforms, positioning itself to become a significant player in the global digital health and wellness revolution. It has recently tripled its medical workforce creating many highly skilled jobs and closed $42 million in funding over the last 18 months.

Armstrong building - new HQ for the Access Group - opening

Business technology specialist and campus partner since 2016 The Access Group has committed to creating 500 new jobs as it officially unveiled its purpose-built HQ on LUSEP. (c) The Access Group.

Business technology specialist and campus partner since 2016 The Access Group has committed to creating 500 new jobs as it officially unveiled its purpose-built HQ on LUSEP. (c) The Access Group.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) is the anchor tenant in the £9 million expansion of SportPark, on LUSEP. UKAD’s relocation from London presents an opportunity to strengthen its long-standing relationship with the University, as well as engage with athletes and sports based in the local area.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) is the anchor tenant in the £9 million expansion of SportPark, on LUSEP. UKAD’s relocation from London presents an opportunity to strengthen its long-standing relationship with the University, as well as engage with athletes and sports based in the local area.

SportPark building

SportPark at LUSEP already houses the UK’s highest concentration of sports governing bodies and national sports organisations, and the £9 million expansion – scheduled for completion in winter 2022 – will provide the capacity to welcome yet more mission-driven organisations to the University, and to further anchor the region as an internationally important Sports Innovation Hub.

SportPark at LUSEP already houses the UK’s highest concentration of sports governing bodies and national sports organisations, and the £9 million expansion – scheduled for completion in winter 2022 – will provide the capacity to welcome yet more mission-driven organisations to the University, and to further anchor the region as an internationally important Sports Innovation Hub.

Researchers in the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport
Researchers in the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport
ParalympicGB team winning bronze in Tokyo
Previsico team working with Flood Map technology
Previsico team working with Flood Map technology
PING team in their specialist lab facilities on LUSEP

Delivering impact in wheelchair sports

The Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport supports many wheelchair sport partners to deliver impact. Loughborough research has helped to identify and confirm talent within GB Wheelchair Rugby, and embed research to enhance the performance and well-being of players in the GB squad.

Following on from its classification research with GB Wheelchair Rugby, the Centre partnered LUSEP-headquartered British Wheelchair Basketball to develop a new set of Minimum Impairment Criteria to ensure the sport remains part of the Paralympic programme for Paris 2024.

ParalympicsGB Wheelchair Basketball Team athletes win bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Following the impacts of British Wheelchair Basketball’s partnership with Loughborough, the sport can enjoy competing on the world stage.

© ParalympicsGB

Predicting and preventing flood impacts

Previsico was launched in 2019 to accelerate the global impact of an innovative flood forecasting solution, founded on 20 years of academic geography and data science research by Professor Dapeng Yu.

Since launching on LUSEP, the company has been on a fast track, raising £2.7 million and gaining traction in the global insurance market through partnerships with Zurich and BT, as well as advancing humanitarian impact through a partnership with the Kenyan Red Cross. 

Photos credit: Maps ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Pushing the boundaries in golf innovation

The golf brand PING is establishing specialist lab facilities on LUSEP to strategically co-locate with the University’s Sports Technology Institute.

The development builds on the partnership which has seen 30 students participate in the company’s internship programme and an increasing number of graduates employed at both its Arizona headquarters and PING Europe.   


Entrepreneurial students and graduates

Our research and innovation system also needs to support entrepreneurial students.

Our diverse partnerships ensure that every undergraduate can undertake a year-long work placement or overseas study. Loughborough is ranked first for the number of placement students in the UK and has held this position for the last three years.

Nowadays many students have the desire and potential to build purposeful, sustainable ventures that can stimulate the economy as well as have a positive impact on society. The Loughborough Enterprise Network supports students and graduates on their enterprise journeys.

Again, we have some notable successes. These include 2021 graduate Joseph Bentley, winner of the inaugural International James Dyson Award for a device to reduce blood loss from knife wounds, and two fast-scaling tech startups that are flourishing at their LUSEP headquarters:

Memohub technology
Alex Nash and Jonathan Grace
memohub
INCUS technology being used by swimmer
INCUS technology being used by runners
INCUS tech being used by swimmers during training
Close up of INCUS technology

ALCURIS

Witnessing the challenges his family faced when his grandfather developed dementia was the starting point for Alex Nash’s startup. He saw a gap in the social care system caused by the absence of smart technology that could support caregivers to take pre-emptive care action faster and help meet the desire for people to live independently for longer.

Alex founded Alcuris in 2016, creating 16 jobs and raising over
£3 million.

In November 2021, Alcuris was acquired by The Access Group, a long-standing partner headquartered in a brand new £20 million building on LUSEP

Alex Nash founder of Alcuris and fellow Loughborough alumnus Jonathan Grace, Chief Technology Officer.

INCUS

Chris Ruddock was also inspired as a student to develop a new system to improve technique and performance for triathlon sports. Chris founded INCUS Performance in 2016, creating 20 jobs and raising over £2 million.

Exploiting cross-cutting research in sports science, engineering and AI, INCUS enables everyday athletes as well as world-champions to tell their sports stories, syncing everything to their smartphones.

Launched to great acclaim in 2020, INCUS has the potential to be the next Garmin or Whoop. 


Looking ahead

Our new strategy, while still being finalised, will have a significant focus on research and innovation.

We already have some real areas of strength - in 2020/21 we secured 294 new grants worth £45 million - but we need to push further. 

Special things happen at Loughborough and we must shine a light on these incredible achievements; sharing inspirational stories about the difference our research and innovation makes to everyday life. By so doing, we will be creating better futures, together.

For further examples of research at the University and opportunities for working together visit the research website.



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