World-leading research

Vision and investment

​We believe research can shape the future. We bring together talented, passionate and dedicated people striving to deliver world-leading research to solve today’s global challenges - research that transforms lives and shapes societies around the world. Our pioneering spirit delivers sustainable solutions to the biggest challenges of the 21st century, and to support this goal we are making a significant investment in a new Research Vision.


Our Vision is to deliver research excellence across academic disciplines, at all the University’s campuses. We are building on our successes and further raising the quality of research across all our research priorities, supporting research leaders and ensuring that as a research-led University we continue to produce research of the very highest quality. At the heart of the new Research Vision is a major investment programme, with particular areas of focus including:​

  • six Beacons of Excellence​
  • world-class researchers and teams​
  • industrial collaborations​
  • international collaborations​
  • transdisciplinary research​
  • a world-class research environment​
  • the University of Nottingham World Institute​

This unprecedented level of funding will support 100 early career fellowships throughout the University over the next five years, as well as multidisciplinary Beacons of Excellence which will deliver transformative research in six broad areas:

  • Future Food: exploring new ways to feed the world 
  • Rights Lab: helping to end global slavery 
  • Precision Imaging: transforming healthcare with pioneering imaging 
  • Propulsion Futures: at the heart of a revolution in greener transport 
  • Green Chemicals: securing the low carbon bio-economy of the future 
  • Smart Industrial Systems: towards smart production of smart products

Our world-leading facilities and equipment, libraries and professional services are dedicated to supporting our researchers and translating their discoveries into applications with real impact for people across the world. We are also working hard to ensure they have the best research environment, with significant investment in facilities and infrastructure, such as the GSK Carbon-Neutral Laboratory for Green Chemistry, which had its official opening in 2017.


Our research has a profound impact on societies and economies across the globe. We contribute to wealth creation, cultural enrichment, better public policy and improvements in professional practice. In the recent Research Excellence Framework, Nottingham was ranked eighth in the UK on a measure of ‘research power’ which takes into account both the quality of research and the number of research-active staff who were included in the REF return.

This was a powerful confirmation both of Nottingham as a global research-intensive university, and of the quality, breadth and impact of our research. It was not just affirmation of quality, but quality at scale. It reflected sustained and continuing investment in our research base, and most of all a reflection of the talent, dedication and sheer hard work of Nottingham staff.

Nottingham submitted 32 returns in 29 units of assessment, underlining its status as a comprehensive university. In 16 of those units, the University features in the UK top 10 by research power.

More than 97% of research at the University is recognised internationally, with wide-ranging impacts on society, the economy, health and welfare, culture, public policy and the environment.

Knowledge exchange

We have a long reputation for transformative fundamental and translational research, taking findings and discoveries from the desk or laboratory and creating practical uses and products that improve people’s lives. The Nobel Prize¬winning work of Sir Peter Mansfield on imaging, developing and using MRI is an excellent example of both. We have also enjoyed record levels of continued success in gaining grant funding, alongside a superb track record in doctoral training.

With the increasing emphasis on delivering impact, knowledge exchange has never been more important to the University’s future sustainability. We are aiming to consolidate the University’s position as a UK leader in knowledge exchange, with an aim to double income from industry over the next five years, and setting bold new targets for knowledge exchange performance internationally.

Knowledge exchange is firmly established as a key feature of the research lifecycle, and this builds on a strong tradition going back to the roots of the institution. This includes early work with Boots on drug discovery at the start of last century; ground-breaking applications of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in healthcare; technological discoveries that have been applied in the manufacturing and aerospace sectors; and research which has influenced government policy-making.

Research and Innovation Services provides vital support for research staff. It leads the University’s drive to achieve research excellence with impact, including doctoral training activities through the Graduate School, and supports knowledge exchange, business partnerships and the commercialisation of intellectual property across the University. The University is involved with 35 Doctoral Training Programmes and leads 25 of these. The programmes deliver high-level academic and skills training for our postgraduate students. These are the University’s flagships of doctoral training, innovative research and engagement with business and industry.

The University continues to build research capacity and capability at both campuses in Asia, and our academics work across three different but complementary national contexts. Examples include the Crops for the Future initiative in Malaysia, which facilitates the adoption of under-utilised crops, and in the establishment in China of the International Academy for Marine Economy and Technology.

Collaborations and partnerships

The University of Nottingham was founded on the philanthropy of Sir Jesse Boot and his inspiring vision that science and industry should combine for social and economic benefit. Now, the University’s research spans many industry sectors across the globe, including medicine, computing, manufacturing, energy and sustainable housing. Building international and industrial collaborations with an increased focus on commercialising our research, and working with industry partners to gain access to increasingly competitive funding, are vital elements of achieving our vision.

We are known for being entrepreneurial and innovative, and for working in partnership with a range of bodies to do research and commercialise discoveries.

The University works together with a very wide range of local, regional, national and international partners on joint research and knowledge exchange activities. These include collaboration with the NHS through the Institute of Mental Health and Biomedical Research Units at the local level, partnering with other Midlands universities through the Midlands Physics Alliance and Midlands Energy Consortium, and the development of major partnerships at national-level in Brazil (in Drug Discovery) and leading institutions in China such as with the China Agricultural University. Between 2014 and 2016 the University co –authored 10,091 publications and has collaborated with 3,386 institutions. The majority being from the Asia pacific, Europe and North America. 
The Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham have a long history of collaboration. Over many years they have developed a special partnership, enabling a distinctive approach to research, international activity and teaching and learning to enhance the success of both institutions. This framework of co-operation saw the launch in 2016 of The Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE) – a unique £10m project that brings together researchers from both institutions to develop novel methods for visualising single membrane proteins and to use these to identify new approaches for prevention and treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The University is a member of the global Universitas 21 network, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the UK’s Russell Group of research-intensive universities.