Projects benefiting from our funding

Case study: International Consortium on Nanotechnology (ICON) 

A global network to advance the application of nanotechnologies

Strategic theme: Supporting excellent scientific research

Following a research call in August 2014, the Foundation funded The International Consortium on Nanotechnology (ICON) at Southampton University. ICON was awarded £3 million in 2015 with the aims of:

• developing a global capability in nanotechnology by providing partial funding for PhD studentships that address the recommendation of the Foresight review in nanotechnology, and

• establishing a research community in nanotechnology across our grant holders.

ICON, led by Dr Themis Prodromakis from the University of Southampton, has established a programme management board of experts from academia and industry to provide governance and decision making to the project.

In 2015, ICON launched its first open research call targeted at the recommendations of the Foundation’s Foresight review in nanotechnology. The ICON model is to provide seed funding for PhD studentships which must be supported by, at the least, matched funding from academia or industry.

The first call attracted 27 proposals from universities across the globe, each of which went through a rigorous peer review by leading academics before a final selection was made by the project management board. Each project was assessed on novelty of the proposed project, quality of the proposal, fit with the recommendations of the foresight review, and relevance. ICON announced that 10 proposals had been successful from eight countries: Australia, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, UK, and USA.

In 2016, Themis wrote an article explaining why nanotechnology is important, Five ways nanotechnology is securing your future, for The Conversation, another of our grant recipients. The article was republished in the Guardian newspaper in the UK. ICON announced its second call for proposals in June 2016. 

ICON will hold its first conference in April 2017 to bring together nanotechnology researchers from across the Foundation’s grant portfolio together with industry in order to showcase the nanotechnology work that is being carried out by Foundation grant holders. The conference also will also engage with industry to better understand the challenges that future ICON calls can specifically address. 

Find out more at www.lrf-icon.com 

Case study: Joint Programme for Resilience Engineering (JPRE) 

A programme to build resilience in critical infrastructure

Strategic theme: Accelerating the application of research

Resilience engineering is one of the four research funding priorities in the Foundation’s strategy. The Foundation’s Foresight review of resilience engineering: designing for the expected and the unexpected, recommended the Foundation establish and lead a programme to build resilience within and between critical global infrastructure sectors.

Implementation of this programme, launched in January 2016, occupies a key building block in our strategy delivery. The programme is designed to focus on sharing existing experience and knowledge within and between sectors, rather than doing further research, so it is an important part of the delivery of our strategic theme accelerating the application of research. Following a competitive international call, the Foundation selected the Arup partnership as the host institute and Dr Nancy Kete as the Director for the five-year, £10-million programme to build resilience in critical infrastructure.

The Foundation’s programme will build resilience, for example, by addressing:

• governance: incentives, standards, rules, legal and financial 

• capacity building and engagement: professional development, publications, communication and public engagement

• data and supporting tools: shared datasets, modelling and simulation, decision support

• international and global scale networks: studies of global systems, supply chains, knowledge networks.

The Foundation has received expressions of interest from dozens of organisations who would like to participate in the programme. Through the open call and through the publication of the foresight review, the Foundation has become a global catalyst in a movement to collaborate and build a discipline of resilience engineering. The programme under Arup’s leadership will build networks of interested parties and harness this global expertise towards helping to achieve the Foundation’s charitable aims. 

Find out more at the JPRE LinkedIn group

Case study: Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk 

Public understanding of risk institute is first of its kind

Strategic theme: Promoting safety and public understanding of risk

In 2016, the Foundation committed a major grant of £10 million to establish a world-leading centre in collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS), to be named the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk. The area of the public understanding of risk and communication of science is less developed in Asia compared to the UK and USA; and the culture, attitude, and role of science are different in Asian society. As a result, the Institute will be unique and the first of its kind in Asia.

It will undertake research and education and build connections with practical end users such as policy makers, decision makers, and opinion formers in government, industry, regulators, the media, and general public. It will be multi-disciplinary, spanning engineering, statistics, sociology and psychology.

This collaboration with NUS heralds a unique opportunity for the Foundation to make a distinctive difference in the crucial area of the public understanding of risk. It also marks the contribution that the social sciences have towards achieving the Foundation’s charitable aims.

Quite often, the public perception of risk far outweighs the actual engineering risk. The new Institute will help address this by building a better understanding of the socio-technological processes and factors affecting public opinion forming, and using this to produce new tools and approaches for uptake by the end users across Asia and other developing economies worldwide.

Sustainability and the long-term existence of the Institute will be ensured through some of the Foundation grant being used to establish an endowment fund that will underpin in perpetuity a number of key appointments. This includes a prestigious Chair to be named the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Professorship in Public Understanding of Risk. A number of other key posts will also be endowed including fellows, distinguished visitors, and scholarships for PhD students with preference given to those from disadvantaged or underrepresented communities. In line with its commitment to the Institute, NUS is to match the Foundation’s grant with a contribution of £10 million to the endowment fund. 

Case study: Born to Engineer 

Addressing the skills gap

Strategic theme: Promoting advancement of skills and education

Engineering UK report that the lack of engineering skills could be costing the UK economy up to £27 billion per annum and, for level 3 skills, the UK is generating less than half the people it needs. To help address this skills gap, the ERA Foundation, in partnership with other organisations and sponsors, runs the Born to Engineer campaign to:

• improve perceptions and inspire more young people into engineering careers

• encourage the most able students to consider engineering

• improve the diversity of engineers.

Professionally produced videos, hosted on the Born to Engineer website at www.borntoengineer.com/video, feature young role-model engineers talking about their studies and careers.

In 2015/16 the Foundation agreed to fund the production of one video in this series.

The videos are widely used by organisations, teachers, career advisers and societies in teaching and outreach, promoted by partners, and in social and traditional media. Online partners using the material because of its quality and alignment with their own objectives include UCAS, IMechE, The Case study Manufacturer, the IET, and Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, while the videos are shown and shared by, for example, Arkwright Scholarships Trust, Royal Institution, Smallpeice Trust, Imagineering, Young Engineers, and the Women’s Engineering Society.

We ensured our grant funding to the ERA Foundation related to our objective of widening access. The video we funded features Lewis Wilde, a marine apprentice at Island RIBs, talking about his route into his apprenticeship. Lewis’s testimony demonstrates the value of our grant to The Shipwrights Company Charitable Fund for a nationwide apprenticeship programme. It helped Island RIBs to offer Lewis an apprenticeship and he found the right career path for him. We hope the video will broaden knowledge of the diversity of engineering opportunities available to young people, informing their decisions, and encourage more to consider an apprenticeship.

Our funding here recognises that a range of organisations working together can potentially make a real difference. 

To find out more, visit www.borntoengineer.com