Soaring ambition for aerospace

November 2nd, 2014

Nottingham is cementing its reputation as an internationally recognised centre for aerospace research in what is said to be the best funding environment for the industry since the Concorde era.

The University’s Institute for Aerospace Technology (IAT) joined key players at the 2013 Paris Air Show, a showcase for the international aviation industry that drew 2,200 exhibitors from 44 countries and 200 official delegations.

Led by Professor Pat Wheeler, the IAT showcased its innovative approach to integrated, multi-disciplinary research and strong links to industrial partners.

The air show was also an opportunity for the IAT to forge ties with companies and funders as the sector vies for a share of UK and European aerospace funding worth billions of pounds.

Under the Aerospace Growth Partnership, the UK Government is offering £1bn in aerospace funding, which will be matched by industry, as part of a drive to answer the challenge of a projected doubling of global air traffic in the next 15 years.

This environmental impact of this growth in air traffic will be offset by further funding of €3.6bn under Clean Sky 2, a partnership between the European Union and industry aiming to develop technologies to reduce noise and carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft.

Speaking alongside the delegation from Nottingham and other members of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance in Paris, Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, announced a further £23m of Government funding for a National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP), which will assist small and medium-sized aerospace suppliers in addressing skills shortages and to improve research and development collaboration.

The IAT is well-placed to seize these funding opportunities. It has a £56m portfolio of more than 70 externally funded projects and is developing leading edge research in aero engines, aircraft systems, metal and composite materials and aerospace manufacturing to support its industry partners.

Its £5.1m Aerospace Technology Centre, which opened on The University of Nottingham Innovation Park in October 2012, enables the Institute to develop, integrate and demonstrate new technologies at a scale and complexity unrivalled by other research institutes in the UK.

In the year since the launch of the Centre, the Institute has signed collaboration agreements with 40 SMEs, underlining its commitment to Midlands businesses, which make up one the world’s major aerospace clusters. The UK boasts the world’s second largest aero industry, a quarter of which is based here in the Midlands.

IAT Director of Research Dr Hervé Morvan said another key success was securing €3.6m funding for Innovate, a Marie Curie Innovative Doctoral Programme (IDP). Innovate’s 13 research engineers, working with 14 industrial partners, will be schooled in the Institute’s integrated, holistic approach to answering the challenges facing the aerospace industry.

Innovate’s research engineers and the IAT are able to draw on the full range of research expertise across the University. IAT Project Manager Rachel Brereton c said:  “We have been identifying all the aerospace-related research across the University and where we can work in an integrated way. We are working with Chemistry, the Business School, Computer Science, Physics, Maths… it’s a truly multi-disciplinary, cross-faculty approach. We have spent a lot of time exploring how we can bring everybody together and engage them in strategic initiatives.”

Dr Morvan added: “We are responding to what industry would like to see. The Institute brings together all the University’s excellent research groups to take on the challenges that have been set by industry. We are able to offer solutions of sufficient scope to interest key players in the aerospace sector.”

Next month, the Institute for Aerospace Technology is holding its second showcase for aerospace technology and innovation. Attendees will hear about UK and EU funding opportunities, visit the Institute’s cutting-edge research facilities, and watch demonstrations of technology developed in collaborations with partners including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Boeing and GE.

The IAT team also wants to raise awareness across the University that the Institute can offer researchers and academics from a range of disciplines the opportunity to work collaboratively to lift innovative ideas to the technology readiness level required by industry.

The IAT showcase for aerospace technology and innovation takes place at the Sir Colin Campbell Building, Jubilee Campus, on Friday 8 November.

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