Three of Scotland’s leading universities have agreed to work together to establish a research partnership in engineering and related disciplines.
Aberdeen, Dundee and the Robert Gordon Universities have collaborated to establish the Northern Research Partnership (NRP). This initiative has received more than £8 million funding from the Scottish Funding Council to respond to the challenge of increased international competition in engineering research.
The purpose of the partnership is to establish groups of research excellence in clearly defined and strategically important areas of engineering and related disciplines. The NRP will collaborate, through the proposed over-arching Scottish Research Partnership, to raise the international competitiveness of Scottish engineering research and postgraduate training.
The partner universities have set up a common Graduate School to support and enhance research student activities. This mirrors the establishment of similar regional partnerships in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Professor C Duncan Rice, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of Aberdeen, will join partners for the launch of this new initiative at the University of Aberdeen today (Monday, March 19). At the afternoon event, Professor Rice will welcome around 50 invited colleagues with an interest in the Northern Research Partnership initiative. Speaking ahead of the reception, he said: "The presence of three large engineering research clusters in Scotland, each with a particular focus on the specific needs of the economy within their region, will bring about a step change in competitiveness in attracting grants and national and international industrial partners, and research output for all of Scotland.
"It will make practical research contributions to the needs of Tayside and the North East, as well as opening opportunities to compete with much larger institutions in the UK or further afield, and creating new ways of working across the regional partnerships, and collaborating on a national and international level."
Professor Mike Pittilo, Principal and Vice Chancellor, The Robert Gordon University, said: "RGU's research strategy is very much focused on working in partnership to find solutions to real problems. The Northern Research Partnership fits in very well with this ethos in that it is building on the expertise of RGU and its partners to generate excellent research and ultimately bring new products to market."
Professor Michael C.R. Davies FRSE, Deputy Principal and Dean of Engineering and Physical Sciences, at the University of Dundee, said: "The Northern Research Partnership is a very important development not only for the University of Dundee but for all the universities in the region. It builds on collaborative research currently taking place in the partner institutions and provides an exciting opportunity to develop new research collaborations where potential synergies exist. The establishment of a strong research presence for Engineering and related disciplines in the region, that will compete in research at an international level, will be facilitated greatly by SFC funding that will allow the partner institutions make key appointments of new senior academic staff."
The NRP is an opportunity to pool the strength in areas common to partner universities and to exploit areas of complementarity. It is the first time that the institutions have agreed to go beyond collaboration on an ad-hoc basis towards bringing together research priorities in the area of engineering research. This will enhance research performance of the participating groups in all partner universities by increasing significantly the competitiveness of research groups in the region.
Roger McClure, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council said: "The NRP is responding to the challenge of the competitive environment our universities operate in, not only in Scotland but internationally.
"Their regional collaboration, and indeed national collaboration with other research partnerships in Edinburgh and Glasgow, will build up the quality of engineering research in Scotland's universities. This can only be of benefit to one of Scotland's traditional industrial strengths."
Each of the collaborative research groups will work to place Scotland at the forefront of international engineering research and the partnership represents a cluster of research groups in the engineering area.
Professor Albert Rodger, Vice-Principal & Head of the College of Physical Sciences, at the University of Aberdeen, is the first Northern Research Partnership Director to be appointed. Professor Rodger and Professor Michael Davies, Deputy Principal, University of Dundee will deliver a presentation to the invited group of guests at today's ceremony unveiling extensive details of the Northern Research Partnership.