Guest post by Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace at Cranfield University.
If there is one word that sums up the Industrial Strategy, for me, it is ‘collaboration’. The strategy has at its heart a desire to bring together the best that the UK has to offer.
There are great examples of people working together across the UK but for the country to recognise the bold ambitions of the Industrial Strategy then we need even greater collaboration between business, academia and government.
This week at the Farnborough International Airshow we have seen some fantastic examples of British business and universities working together that have captured the imagination of the world. This shows what can be done when we combine the power of UK business with the research power of UK academia.
At Farnborough, it is easy to get distracted by the amazing products on offer and the amazing technological advances but some of the most significant moments don’t happen in the skies over the airfield but in the cramped, hot conference rooms.
An example of one of these significant announcements is the National Aerospace Research Consortium (NARC), where on Wednesday, 40 of us huddled into one of those conference rooms to announce its launch.
Our aim is simple – to bring the UK’s leading aerospace universities together to provide the global aerospace community with a centralised point of engagement to the UK’s top research capabilities. We want to become a one-stop shop for the global market to access the UK’s leading academic aerospace minds and facilities.
Backed by ADS and ATI, we will aim to support UK-based industry directly through the provision of accessible world-class research facilities, future skills development and centralised research co-ordination.
Our desire is to put NARC in the same league as other international entities, such as NASA, ONERA or NRC, and to support the UK as a global leader in future aerospace research.
The universities that currently make up NARC have already started work with a collaborative proposal for a network of advanced electric and hybrid-electric propulsion development facilities, and this is just the start of our ambitions.
We will focus on the priority needs of the UK industry as identified by ATI and others: future propulsion aircraft of the future smart, connected and electric aircraft, aero structures of the future, high value design and national airborne test and research.
We will also seek to enhance the flow of highly qualified aerospace engineers of the future through closer integration of graduate and postgraduate learning provision.
As universities, we have the ambition to create a future aerospace technology skills base that will enable students to develop world-class expertise within the UK so that they provide industry and academia with the next generation of technical capability.
New members welcome
The founding member universities of NARC are: University of Bristol; University of Cambridge; Cranfield University; Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine; University of Manchester; University of Nottingham; Queen’s University Belfast; University of Sheffield; University of Southampton and the University of Strathclyde.
This is however not an exclusive club, we are actively seeking more leading UK aerospace universities to join us and help us achieve our vision.
It’s an exciting vision - the UK’s leading aerospace universities, backed by industry, offering the global aerospace community a gateway to the very best that the UK has to offer – and one that feels perfectly aligned with the Industrial Strategy.