World's first academic 5G research centre named UK's best university-industry partnership – FE News

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The Royal Academy of Engineering and WMG at the University of Warwick have announced the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) as the first ever winner of the Bhattacharyya Award. The Award, which carries a £25,000 prize, has been presented in recognition of an exemplary academia-industry partnership that has helped to build the UK’s work in 5G technology from the ground up, and produced world-leading innovation in the field.

The Bhattacharyya Award is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and was created to encourage more private and academic entities to collaborate, as a tribute to the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya KT CBE FREng FRS, Regius Professor of Manufacturing at the University of Warwick and founder of WMG.

Surrey’s 5GIC has built collaborations with more than 27 global industrial partners and over 300 UK SMEs since its launch in 2013, bringing together leading academics and companies to help develop the 5G infrastructure that will underpin the way we communicate, work and live our everyday lives. 5G technology is estimated to be worth up to £173 billion to the UK economy by 2030, increasing productivity, driving modernisation and enabling transformative applications in automation, healthcare, manufacturing, self-driving vehicles, and remote robotics. Its evolution to 6G is set to address grand societal and industrial challenges, such as the digital divide, and privacy, as well as support efforts towards achieving the net-zero national agenda.

Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli FREng, Head of the Institute for Communication Systems (ICS) at the University of Surrey and Founder and Director of the 5GIC, said: “Collaboration with industry partners is at the heart of our achievements. The challenge of 5G could not be met without the close cooperation of major businesses with academia and realising the benefits of the new technology by reaching out to regional communities and SMEs.

“We will use the Bhattacharyya Award funding to expand our overseas relationships – particularly with South Korea and Japan – and maintain our international profile. We will also use the prize to provide collaborative industry opportunities for training, knowledge exchange, and skills development for early careers researchers. All of these activities will be co-developed with industry to ensure that they meet the future needs of the UK and global workforce. We feel that this boost to skills development is particularly important to help offset the disruption caused by the pandemic.”


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Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “I am delighted to see the first Bhattacharya Award go to the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), whose work to bolster the UK’s competitiveness in 5G technology has already helped to attract nearly £100m of industry funding.

“5GIC puts collaboration between industry and academia at the core of its work, and I hope this award inspires other researchers, academics and industry experts to join forces as part of our efforts to build back better from the pandemic.”

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, immediate past-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, is chair of the judging panel for the Bhattacharyya Award. She said: “Had companies been working individually and with more limited collaboration with academia, these outputs and outcomes would have taken far longer to achieve. The collaborative work at 5GIC is enabling the UK to be a leader in the international competition. The Bhattacharyya Award aims to transform how universities research and educate to meet the needs of industry and society, which is exactly what the University of Surrey’s 5GIC has done, and we congratulate the team for setting such a high bar in this first cycle of the Award.”

Margot James, Executive Chair at WMG, University of Warwick, said: “This partnership exemplifies innovative academia-industry collaboration, for which Professor Lord Bhattacharyya was a keen advocate. He believed in effective industrial strategy, with a focus on the impact of research and training and technology partnerships between industry and universities. This inaugural Lord Bhattacharyya Award will inspire the next generation of academics and industry experts to come together to create more ground-breaking research.”

Notes for Editors

  1. About the Bhattacharyya Award

The Bhattacharyya Award is a new annual award to celebrate collaboration between academia and industry. The UK government announced the £25,000 award in July 2019 as a tribute to Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya KT CBE FREng FRS, the Regius Professor of Manufacturing at the University of Warwick and founder of the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG).

Eleven exceptional university collaborations were shortlisted for the inaugural 2021 Award and more information about their work is available here.

  1. About WMG, University of Warwick

WMG is a world leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes.

As an international role model for successful partnerships between academia and the private and public sectors, WMG develops advancements nationally and globally, in applied science, technology and engineering, to deliver real impact to economic growth, society and the environment.

WMG’s education programmes focus on lifelong learning of the brightest talent, from the WMG Academies for Young Engineers, degree apprenticeships, undergraduate and postgraduate, through to professional programmes.

An academic department of the University of Warwick, and a centre for the HVM Catapult, WMG was founded by the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing and improve competitiveness through innovation and skills development.

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone.

In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public.

Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.

For more information please contact:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: 020 7766 0636

E: Jane Sutton

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