Chinese aerospace business funds £3m University Innovation Centre

31 Aug 2012 10:46:22.703

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The University of Nottingham is developing a new University Innovation Centre (UIC) with one of China’s biggest aerospace businesses.

Under the agreement with ACAE (AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine Company Limited) the University, will, over the next three years, undertake a number of civil aerospace research projects in the UIC. 

The research will include investigating impact damage on composite materials, as well as research into thermal barrier coatings to help improve the performance of engine components such as turbine blades, which have to operate in very high temperatures. 

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A £3million deal
The University Innovation Centre being developed with ACAE is worth over £1 million per annum to the University, and follows on from a framework agreement which was signed with ACAE and their parent company, AVIC, earlier this year. 

AVIC is one of the giants in the Asian aerospace industry, employing over 400,000 people in China and owning assets valued at £29 billion. The company is already sponsoring a group of around 20 of its own employees, who are undertaking postgraduate and masters studies at The University of Nottingham.

First collaboration with a British University
Dr Victor Wang, the R&D Director of ACAE visited Nottingham to witness the contract being signed by the University and to take the documents back to China for signatures. Dr Wang said: “This really is an historic moment for ACAE, as it is the first time we have collaborated with a British University. The University of Nottingham has an excellent reputation for its work in engineering and aerospace, and I am confident that our work with them will enable us to further develop our products and help to give us a competitive advantage in our market.”

Professor Andy Long, who is the executive director of the Innovation Centre, said: “The partnership with ACAE is a very exciting development for the University. We have significant expertise in the aerospace sector, and this agreement means that we will be able to further enhance our understanding of composite materials and thermal barrier coatings in this area, leading to the development of new technologies.”

Aerospace expertise
Speaking about the University’s work in the aerospace industry, Professor Chris Rudd, the University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business Engagement and Knowledge Transfer, said: “China, together with other Asian economies will drive global civil aerospace growth over the next decade. We recognise that there is a tremendous opportunity for us to build close partnerships with ACAE and AVIC, to help develop innovative new solutions for them. I am sure that this will be just the start of a long and mutually beneficial collaboration between our two organisations.”

Strong relationships with Chinese businesses
The collaboration with ACAE is one of a number that the University of Nottingham has recently secured with Chinese businesses this year, through its work on the Ningbo campus and the Asia Business Centre. 

The University recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the vehicle manufacturer, FAW, to undertake research into thermal management and heat transfer for low carbon vehicles. In addition, China’s largest drinks manufacturer, Wahaha, has agreed to establish joint research centres with the University to investigate a number of areas, ranging from bioenergy to animal feed, food technologies, electrical motors, and robotics.

For more information about The University of Nottingham’s services for business and the work of the Asia Business Centre, visit

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For more information,  please contact Nick King, Marketing Projects Manager, Business Engagement and Innovation Services, University of Nottingham. Tel: +44 (0)115 82 32184, or email 

Or contact Tim Utton, Deputy Director, Communications, University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 846 8092.

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Notes to editors

The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is also the most popular university in the UK by 2012 application numbers, and ‘the world’s greenest university’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. 


Story credits

More information is available from Professor Andrew Long on +44 (0)115 95 13779, or from Jason Feehily at the Asia Business Centre on +44 (0)115 74 84135
Nick King  

Nick King - Marketing and Communications Manager, Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 74 86727 Location: Coates Building, Faculty of Engineering, University Park Nottingham

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