Research and industry leaders to develop technologies of tomorrow

Supplementary content information

  • Research partnerships to keep the UK at the cutting edge of efforts to develop quantum computers and hybrid electric vehicles, reduce the time and cost of producing new drugs and protect against cyber attacks
  • Industry names including Microsoft, Jaguar Land Rover and Eli Lilly and Company team up with leading UK universities
  • Six new Prosperity Partnerships, funded with £40 million, launched by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Leading researchers will team up with major industry names to place the UK at the forefront of efforts to build quantum computers, protect wireless networks from cyber-attacks and research the next generation of hybrid electric vehicles.

Eight universities will team up with industry partners such as Microsoft, Jaguar Land Rover and Eli Lilly and Company in six new Prosperity Partnerships after a £40 million investment was announced today, Friday 18 October 2019, by Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom. She announced the new Prosperity Partnerships alongside a major investment in cyber security partnerships with industry partners.

Funded partnerships include:

  • A project led by Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Oxford to research a new generation of electrified, hybrid vehicles that will reduce demand on the electricity grid and be prepared for new forms of fuel
  • A partnership led by Toshiba Research Europe and the University of Bristol to protect the wireless networks we rely on at work and in our social lives from cyber-attacks
  • A collaboration led by Eli Lilly and Company and Imperial College to significantly reduce the time and cost of producing new drugs, speeding up new treatments for a range of conditions.

The five-year partnerships announced today are supported with £18 million of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, £18 million from industry partners and £4 million from universities.

They are the latest in a series of Prosperity Partnerships, launched to support existing, strategic, research-based partnerships between business and universities and deliver societal and economic impact. To date, £195 million has been invested by EPSRC, industry partners and universities in 30 Prosperity Partnerships.

EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Lynn Gladden said: “By combining expertise from across academia and industry, the Prosperity Partnerships will break new ground in areas of fundamental research that also provide major commercial opportunities.

“The partnerships announced today demonstrate the critical role that collaboration between UK researchers and industry partners will play in developing the revolutionary technologies of tomorrow.”

Summaries of each of the Prosperity Partnerships announced today can be found in the Notes to Editors section.

Notes to Editors:

For further information contact James Giles-Franklin, UKRI Media and Communications Manager, 01793 234170.

UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

Summaries of the partnerships:

Transforming Synthetic Drug Manufacturing: Novel Processes, Methods and Tools
Led by:
Eli Lilly and Company and Imperial College London
Partner: UCL

The discovery of new molecules is crucial to the development of new medicines but the process is both long and costly, with the total cost per new chemical entity reaching $2.6 billion and ten years. Combining expertise from academia and the pharmaceutical industry, the partnership aims to break down barriers to the cost and time-effective manufacturing of synthetic drugs. To do so, they will develop advanced techniques for drug substance crystallization and purification, advanced manufacturing and stability analysis of drug products, and cross-cutting systems engineering methods.

The partnership aims to benefit patients through the rapid development of new drugs to treat a range of illnesses and conditions and position the UK at the cutting edge of expertise and innovation in the manufacturing of high-value synthetic drugs, contributing to the growth of a value-creating innovation ecosystem.

Secure Wireless Agile Networks (SWAN)
Led by:
Toshiba Research Europe and the University of Bristol
Partners:  GCHQ

Wireless access is essential to the networks that underpin modern life, but many networks are vulnerable to cyberattacks carried out for reasons such as financial extortion, terrorism or subversion. The partnership will work towards the creation of Secure Wireless Agile Networks that will be resilient to both cyber-attacks and accidental or induced failures, such as jamming.

The partnership will identify how the Radio Frequency (RF) interfaces that wireless networks rely on can be attacked, and develop techniques to detect RF cyber-attacks and mitigate their effects. Radios whose RF characteristics can be updated to deal with new threats, and enabling technology which allows data to be shared efficiently and safely will also be a subject of the research.

Machine Learning for Tomorrow: Efficient, Flexible, Robust and Automated
Led by:
Microsoft and University of Cambridge

Machine learning, which uses data analysis and pattern recognition to allow computers to perform tasks, offers opportunities to transform a wide range of fields ranging from medical imaging to driverless cars. However, there are still fundamental limitations within the underlying machine learning technology that need to be addressed to unlock its full potential for society and industry.

The partnership will address challenges such as the data inefficiency of current approaches which require extremely large and painstakingly-curated datasets, inflexibility in solving single tasks that are fixed through time, loss of performance in the face of missing data or noise and the requirement for experts to design and tune them. In doing so it aims to develop machine learning that is data-efficient, robust, flexible and automated for use across fields such as health, enterprise tools and games development.

Scalable Qubit Arrays for Quantum Computing and Optimisation 
Led by:
M Squared Lasers and University of Strathclyde

Quantum computers will be far more powerful than the technology of today, promising impact in areas such as quantum chemistry for improved drug design or the designing of new materials for aerospace and engineering. One major barrier is the development of a system which can handle large numbers of qubits, the tiny particles which will power quantum computers, with low levels of noise or interference.

This partnership will combine advanced laser systems with cold-atom and quantum algorithm expertise to develop Scalable Qubit Arrays (SQuAre), a new approach based on reconfigurable arrays of neutral atoms that offers a route to scalable quantum computation and aims to place the UK at the forefront of the rapidly-growing field of neutral atom quantum computation.

Nikon-UCL Prosperity Partnership on Next-Generation X-Ray Imaging 
Led by:
 Nikon X-Tek Systems and UCL

X-Ray Imaging (XRI) has a fundamental role in a wide range of sectors and industries, from medicine and security to manufacturing, aerospace and cultural heritage. Combining phase-based XRI with energy-resolved “colour” XRI could greatly increase the amount of information that can be obtained from any imaged sample. Phase-based XRI allows more information to be gathered from X-ray images than is currently possible while also detecting features that are considered to be ‘x-ray invisible’, and energy-resolved XRI is a transformation akin to the transition from black and white to colour photography.

The partnership aims to place the UK at the forefront of this major change in XRI that could have major repercussions across a range of sectors, from medical scans to industrial inspections.

Centre of Excellence for Hybrid Thermal Propulsion Systems  
Led by:
Jaguar Land Rover and University of Oxford
Partner: University of Bath, Siemens Digital Industries

This partnership will accelerate the UK’s transition to zero emission mobility by researching the next generation of world-leading electrified hybrid powertrains, as the next step on the UK’s Road to Zero. The centre will develop hybrid propulsion simulation and examine low-carbon fuels in highly-efficient thermal propulsion systems and electric motors, while minimising demand on the electricity grid, and preparing for future fuels. Ultra-high efficiency zero well-to-wheel emission vehicles are in-line with Jaguar Land Rover's Destination Zero vision for a world of zero emissions, zero accidents, and zero congestion.