£200m investment to solve global challenges

22 Jun 2017 00:15:00.000

Securing sustainable food supplies, ending slavery and developing greener transport systems, are three of six most pressing global challenges the University of Nottingham has today (22 June 2017) set out to solve with a planned investment of more than £200 million.

The investment, the most the University has ever dedicated to research, will support world-leading experts in finding solutions to global issues through ground-breaking research.   

Click here for full story

The University is funding six Beacons of Excellence — multi-disciplinary research groups focused on finding solutions to a global challenge. Together they contribute to all 17 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The investment will help transform the University’s impact: even more world-class facilities and equipment will support the capture and delivery of discoveries with real impact. It will also accelerate a commitment to attracting the brightest and best minds through the recruitment of 100 Research Fellows, while creating and strengthening high-performance teams of researchers from across the University. 

MP Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, spoke as the announcement was made at the Royal Society in London.

He said: “With one of the largest research and development investments in the East Midlands, the University of Nottingham is at the forefront of UK innovation, supporting the creation of hundreds of local jobs and pioneering start-ups.

“Through our Industrial Strategy, we will build on these strengths that exist across the country, supporting our world-class scientists and researchers while ensuring the UK’s valuable contribution to solving the world’s greatest challenges continues.” 

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Nottingham, said: “The University of Nottingham has a long-standing reputation for transformative, world-class research. Our pioneering, multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches deliver sustainable solutions to today’s global challenges. The fact that our Beacons cover all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals goes a step further in demonstrating our impact at an internationally strategic level.

“This unprecedented investment in our research and people gives us the opportunity to find solutions to some of the world’s biggest issues: how to prevent malnutrition by finding crops that can withstand climate change; how scanning the brain can help us treat mental illness; how to change the fact that there are 46 million people enslaved around the world today; how to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels; how to revolutionise greener transport; and how personalising our use of technology can build better-connected societies.   

“The depth and range of research expertise at the University and at our campuses in China and Malaysia is unrivalled by many institutions. Our research partnerships are without borders and span more than 40 countries. We believe we can truly transform people’s lives through the work we are pioneering around the world.”  

The six Beacons of Excellence are: 

  • Rights Lab — finding solutions to ending modern-day slavery
  • Green Chemicals — the next global industrial revolution
  • Precision Imaging — personalised therapies to transform lives
  • Propulsion Futures — the future of propulsion
  • Smart Industrial Systems — sustainable products for the future
  • Future Food — exploring new ways of feeding the world

Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, said: “From the pioneering work of people like Sir Peter Mansfield who developed MRI, to Professor Don Grierson who created the world’s first genetically modified tomato, our University and our people are pioneers of world-changing research.  

“It is right the University makes this investment in these six profoundly important areas, building on existing expertise and enabling us to entice world-leading academics and experts to push the boundaries of possibility.  

“Our Beacons are tackling complex global challenges. Our research informs policies across the world and we work with the United Nations, internationally-renowned organisations and NGOs tackling real-world issues. 

“We live in rapidly changing times, politically, scientifically, economically. The University’s vision to deliver research of global significance remains a constant. But we cannot stand still. We believe our unique approach and proven excellence in research will allow us to help solve these problems facing the world now and in the future.” 

Scale and Vision

Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) welcomed the news.

He said: “The core purpose of the EPRSC is to make the UK the best place in the world to research, discover and innovate. To achieve this we work with universities across the UK to support research and develop skills. This investment by the University of Nottingham is incredibly exciting — not only due to its scale and vision — but because it is predominantly an investment in people.

"People are the well-source for the UK’s prosperity, driving our future discoveries and innovation. I am delighted that the University will be using this investment to bring extraordinary minds from all over the world to Nottingham. Their ingenuity and expertise will then drive the innovation that will create the jobs and prosperity of the future — not just for businesses and communities the East Midlands, but globally as well.”

— Ends —

Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Globelynx fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at University Park campus. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email mediahub@nottingham.ac.uk or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.

For up to the minute media alerts, follow us on Twitter

Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits



Liz Cass - Head of Media Relations

Email: liz.cass@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 748 4734 Location: University Park

Additional resources

No additional resources for this article

Related articles

Emeritus Professor receives top Chinese honour

Published Date
Thursday 14th December 2017

Fighting slavery from space

Published Date
Monday 3rd July 2017

Nottingham's new flying motorcycle prepares for take off

Published Date
Thursday 28th September 2017

PhD students at Nottingham could help solve world hunger

Published Date
Monday 30th April 2018

Nottingham shares £20 million investment in NMR equipment

Published Date
Thursday 17th May 2018

The murky world of the hand car wash

Published Date
Wednesday 5th July 2017

Global slavery expert is honoured by Prince Charles

Published Date
Friday 7th July 2017

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
YANG Fujia Building
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798
email: pressoffice@nottingham.ac.uk