Prosperity Partnerships to address generational challenges across the globe

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Pioneering new partnerships have been launched to speed up the production of medicines, utilise Artificial Intelligence to complete household tasks, develop ultra-high strength alloys for the automotive industry and create new materials that will not make a noise underwater, reducing its harmful impact on marine wildlife.

The four Prosperity Partnerships will be jointly led by universities and industry partners including BAE Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, Constellium and Dyson. Industry partners are providing an investment of £17.5m in addition to a £12 million UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The partnerships were announced by Science Minister Chris Skidmore today, Wednesday 10 July 2019. He said: “The UK is home to world-beating businesses and researchers and these partnerships will grow that reputation, bringing together the best minds from industry and academia to create technologies that address generational challenges facing the globe.

“Research and development is the cornerstone of our modern Industrial Strategy and we are spending record amounts to build on the strengths of this research base. Through it we are committed to making sure the UK blazes a trail in innovating and capitalising on the opportunities presented by the global transition to cleaner, greener economies. The partnerships we’ve unveiled today will help us do just that.”

The partnerships will:

  • Develop new materials that do not make noise underwater, led by BAE Systems with the University of Southampton, the University of Nottingham and Lloyd's Register. Noise pollution can cut the life-expectancy of fish, dolphins and other marine life, while also affecting human health, and these new materials will help protect vulnerable marine life
  • Use AI and machine learning to speed up production of new medicines from vaccines to tablets in order to get them from the lab to the clinic faster, led by GlaxoSmithKline with the University of Strathclyde with University of Nottingham
  • Develop a new range of fully recyclable ultra-high strength aluminum alloys for the automotive industry, led by Constellium and Brunel University
  • Creating the next generation of household products using AI to pave the way for robots to complete advanced household tasks, led by Dyson and Imperial.

The projects, which join the 11 earlier Prosperity Partnerships announced in 2018, will be funded with £12 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UKRI, and have leveraged £17.5m in cash or in-kind contributions from industry.

The partnerships are an important step towards meeting the commitment of boosting private and public sector investment in R&D by 2.4% of GDP by 2027, as set out in the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

Professor Lynn Gladden, EPSRC’s Executive Chair, said: “These four Prosperity Partnership projects link the UK’s world-class research base to some of the country’s most successful industries. As these proposals were advanced by business, they will address challenges that are relevant to industry’s need but will also advance science and engineering.

“The value industry places on these collaborations is evident from the level of finance and resource committed in each of the partnerships.”

The Government’s modern Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.

Summaries of the partnerships:

Accelerated Discovery and Development of New Medicines. Prosperity Partnership for a Healthier Nation – GlaxoSmithKline, University of Strathclyde – with University of Nottingham

The partnership will utilise Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to revolutionise the processes for developing new medicines, from fundamental chemistry upwards, rapidly reducing the time taken to get new medicines from the lab bench to the clinic.

The software developed will incorporate green chemistry principles with the goal that the chemical methods employed are as efficient and sustainable as possible.

Perceiving, Modelling and Interacting with the Object-Based World – Dyson and Imperial College London

This partnership builds on previous collaborations that have resulted in innovate robotic vacuum cleaners. It aims to push the forefront of visual scene understanding and vision-enabled robotic manipulation into new and more demanding application areas. The team will develop the next generation of household products with AI embedded at their heart, enabling them to perceive, understand and navigate complex social scenarios.

Intelligent Structures for Low Noise Environments – BAE and University of Southampton – with University of Nottingham

The partnership will develop new materials to reduce ambient noise in maritime sector which can adversely affect marine life and will seek to exploit the technology to address society noise, which is all pervasive and problematic in workplace and home environments.

The team, which includes the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research and the Noise and Vibration Engineering Department of BAE Systems Maritime, will develop ‘Intelligent Structures’ that integrate novel sensors, propulsion - including morphing materials, energy scavenging and energy storage, printed electronics, data storage, computing and communications.

STEP Aluminium – Constellium and Brunel University London

The partnership will develop a new generation of high performance aluminium alloys, with ultra-high strength, good ductility, high crashworthiness and high thermal conductivity.

It will take a holistic approach to effective, vehicle light weighting through developing a circular economy approach to high strength aluminium for automotive markets.

For further information please contact the UKRI press office on 01793 234136 or email