Rolls-Royce is a leading global business providing integrated power systems for use on land, at sea and in the air. As well as market leader for business jet engines, the company is the world's second biggest aerospace engine manufacturer.
Rolls-Royce: A powerful partnership
Rolls-Royce is a world-famous brand, synonymous with quality and innovation. Maintaining that global status requires constant innovation and improvement – and, as its research partner, the University of Nottingham is a cog in that continuous process.
Mark J Jefferies, Chief of University Research Liaison at Rolls-Royce, acknowledges that the company’s ties with the University of Nottingham have a rich heritage that’s been further strengthened in recent years. “We’d been working with Nottingham for many years before setting up our University Technology Centres (UTCs) in 1999,” he explains. “That’s when we took a business decision to focus our research activity on high-quality academic organisations with a critical mass of talented people and modern facilities.”
Each UTC is ‘owned’ by a specific part of the business, ensuring a good technology transfer. “The main benefit is the collaboration between academics and engineers,” reports Mark. This collaboration extends from PhD students who subsequently join Rolls Royce to the creation of patented products.
“These relationships are part of our long-term approach to strategic research,” he continues. “When academics are faced with the challenges in our industry, they bring a wider perspective.”
Reducing risk, improving performance and the ability to manufacture faster and more effectively are among the tangible business benefits which warrant Rolls Royce’s significant investment.
“We spend many tens of millions of pounds on research,” reveals Mark. “It’s a key element in our long-term strategy.”
So why choose Nottingham as a corporate partner? Mark points to several factors: “Academic excellence, of course – the university needs to be capable of attracting high-calibre students. And we expect a good track record of delivery in research. Overall, the relationship needs commitment – at both organisational and individual levels. We constantly assess our partnerships to ensure they meet those expectations. The University of Nottingham certainly does that – and it also has the advantage of a truly international focus. The two overseas campuses (in China and Malaysia) send a positive message about its commitment as a major player overseas, producing research with an international dimension. As a global company, we need partners that play on the world stage.”