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Academic boost for UK infrastructure research

The University of Edinburgh, which has joined the UKCRIC partnership to advance infrastructure research in the UK.

The UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) are bringing on board two new university partners, the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, known jointly as the Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering.

UKCRIC provides leadership and support for the development and growth of a coordinated and coherent UK-based national infrastructure research community. The collaboration includes a number of leading UK universities, and this addition will bring the total number of UKCRIC university partners to 15.

A key aim of UKCRIC is to provide a strong infrastructure research base from which policy and decisions on infrastructure spending may be better informed. The collaboration will bring with it the added benefit of bringing UKCRIC closer to infrastructure decision-making in Scotland, increasing opportunities to positively influence UK governments.

The Centre for Future Infrastructure within Edinburgh Futures Institute at the University of Edinburgh has several areas of interest that align with and complement those of UKCRIC. Last year, the UK and Scottish governments invested £1.3bn in the ambitious Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, to deliver inclusive economic growth across the region by investing heavily in infrastructure comprising housing, innovation, transport, skills and culture. 

The leverage created by additional funding into related facilities at the Universities of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt open many opportunities for multi-disciplinary collaborative research, a key value of the UKCRIC agenda. The increasing links with Edinburgh’s informatics community, the recently opened Bayes Institute at Edinburgh, and the Alan Turing Institute, of which the University of Edinburgh is a founder member, and the construction of the National Robotarium at Heriot-Watt University will create additional entry points for collaborative data-driven research with UKCRIC members.

Gordon Masterton, chair of future infrastructure at University of Edinburgh, said: “Being welcomed into the UKCRIC group of universities is a testimony to the quality of multi-disciplinary research and data-driven innovation within the Edinburgh Research Partnership and it gives Scotland's infrastructure policy makers a portal to the premier cities and infrastructure research-base in the UK.”

William Powrie, convenor of UKCRIC, said: “We are delighted to welcome both the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University to the UKCRIC family. We gain a wealth of knowledge and expertise through this collaboration, not only through these institutions but from Scottish research more widely, as this collaboration will act as an entry point for all Scottish universities to collaborate with UKCRIC.”

Gareth Pender, deputy principal (research and innovation) at Heriot-Watt University, said: “This expansion of UKCRIC will create fantastic opportunities for UK wide collaboration on infrastructure provision and city design. We are looking forward to developing these with the UKCRIC team.”