Building Global Engagements at the University of Nottingham

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Research & Graduate Services


The University of Nottingham is widely recognized as a pioneer in the internationalization of research and teaching through the development of our overseas campuses in China and Malaysia, our membership of Universitas 21, and numerous specific partnerships with leading institutions across the world. Indeed, the Times described the University of Nottingham as "the closest the UK has to a truly global university".

We now wish to undertake a step change in the way that we approach global partnerships by establishing a new multilateral approach in which multiple research teams join up across multiple regions to tackle the most pressing global challenges.

We will drive this forward through a series of initiatives that develop global partnerships in three key priority themes across three geographic regions. Our three themes of Digital Economy, Energy and Quantum Technologies are all key priorities for the UK and are underpinned by critical mass funding at Nottingham, including large EPSRC portfolios. Our three regions of India, North America, and South Korea are strategically important for Nottingham, and have been chosen to strike a balance between building on established relationships with world-leading partners while also opening up important new opportunities.

We will fund a combination of catalyzing and integration activities. Ten catalyzing activities will deliver tailored programmes of visits and exchanges addressing specific areas of overlap with our chosen partners. These focused explorations will be integrated into a wider multilateral approach through theme-based roadtrips, high-level regional delegations, a final integrating workshop, and a reflective final report.

Planned Impact

Our proposal will impact on knowledge in several key ways. We will grow key international collaborations to underpin future scientific advances over the coming years. We will also undertake activities to increase the impact of ongoing research at partners including the joint analysis of existing data and the integration of complementary techniques. From a broader institutional perspective, our proposal represents an opportunity to try out a distinctive new approach to stimulating multilateral research collaborations so as to tackle major global challenges, and our ultimate goal is to embed this into our culture and practice at Nottingham.

We will develop the skills of researchers at all levels of our organization, from PhD students to Pro-Vice Chancellors. PhD students will benefit through increased skills and international experience, which will also enhance their future employability. Early- and mid- career researchers will benefit from opportunities to collaborate with the best researchers world-wide in their fields, advancing their knowledge and giving them access to facilities that are not available at their home institutions. We include twelve senior research leaders who will benefit from a deeper understanding of how multilateral international activities can enable a step-change in research leadership.

In terms of impact on the economy, Nottingham's research across the three themes of Digital Economy, Energy and Quantum Technologies is deeply connected to industry partners who will also benefit from new opportunities for international collaboration. The Horizon Centre for Digital Economy Research is already working with a network of more than one hundred industry partners who engage in collaborative projects. Our Energy themed projects involve a wide spectrum of industrial partners from the power, chemical manufacturing and automotive industries. Similarly, Nottingham's quantum technologies research involves collaboration with many UK and EU companies.

Finally, our proposal will impact on our society. RCUK strategy recognises that "collaboration with overseas partners increases the impact of research and enhances the reputation of the UK as a preferred location for research and business investment." The overall purpose of our proposal is to stimulate such collaboration and so this will be an especially significant form of impact for us. Our chosen themes explicitly address key societal concerns, especially with regard to quality of life. The global challenge of sustainability is addressed head on by the Energy theme that focuses in sustainable energy technologies. The Digital Economy theme also addresses key quality of life issues through a focus on enhancing our essential digital infrastructure, both in everyday homes in developed economies as well as in rural communities in India. This aspect is also addressed by the rural bio-energy project.


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Description Building Global Engagements has acted as a catalyst and an enabler for the formation and development of a suite of new and emergent connections, and for established relationships to be deepened and extended. The insights and networks of our Alumni and in-country resources have been a powerful addition to the formation of these new connections.

The strategically defined regions (India, USA and Republic of Korea) and thematic areas resulted in the Quantum Technologies and Energy themes forming new internal connections which wouldn't have otherwise happened, and cascade of new opportunities and connections were driven out of this new internal network.

By combining a top down approach with bottom up, researcher/academic led activities, Building Global Engagements has generated an impressive mix of immediate outputs, and a strong appetite and desire to build upon the efforts of the previous 12 months.

Many relationships are emergent, but have a high potential to generate long term collaborations with the University.
Exploitation Route The primary outcomes of the grant are:
(i) Establishing and building on connections across the themes/countries. Subsequent to the grant, a wide range of follow-on opportunities are being explored including student mobility, joint workshops, potential joint research and publications.
(ii) Learning from the project to inform approaches to international collaborations. A key output from the grant was a reflective study on international collaboration mechanisms which will inform University strategy in this area.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Other

Description The project was designed to establish and build on connections in specific countries (India, USA, Republic of Korea) across three priority themes: digital economy, energy and quantum technologies. Within the 12-month grant period, the University of Nottingham has engaged with more than 50 institutions across the priority themes and countries which will lead to new research opportunities that will lead to impact. More than 20 of these connections are entirely new. It is too early to determine the specific impacts at this stage.
Description Optimising Phosphate Recovery from Community Bioenergy Systems: Low Cost Sustainable Fertiliser Production for Rural Communities
Amount £36,072 (GBP)
Funding ID UGC86 
Organisation UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2013 
End 05/2015