Case studies



Energy Research Accelerator



At the forefront of energy transformation.

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) will play a central role in tackling some of the biggest global energy challenges. It involves creating a world leading hub of energy talent, technology research, development and deployment, based on the academic expertise and industrial heritage of the Midlands. As well as partnering the Midlands Innovation Universities, ERA also partners with the British Geological Survey.

Core objectives

The core objectives of ERA are to make better use of primary resources, develop smarter energy systems, reduce dependence on importing energy, enhance energy security and resilience and help achieve ambitious carbon reduction targets.

To do this, it will focus on three critical areas of energy research:

  • thermal energy
  • integrated energy systems
  • geo-energy.

Working alongside its industrial partners, ERA will create new products and services for the energy, automotive and manufacturing sectors. It will also create new highly skilled jobs, and provide a platform of productivity for the Midlands and wider UK.

Brief history

Established in 2015, ERA is a partnership between the Universities of Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick and the British Geological Survey. To date it has received over £180 million of investment from Government, industry and universities.

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Kit-Catalogue equipment sharing database



Driving efficiency, stimulating collaboration.

Kit-Catalogue is an online directory of the research equipment, specialist machines, tools and facilities that organisations have and descriptions of their capabilities, especially in higher education.

By facilitating more efficient and sustainable sharing of equipment across organisations, it reduces the costly duplication and double purchasing of equipment within institutions. It also stimulates more collaborative working, providing more opportunities for new areas of research.

Developed in 2011 out of an equipment database held by Loughborough University, today Kit-Catalogue is used by institutions across the UK and overseas. It also powers the Midlands Innovation universities’ Equipment Database – the first such regional database in the UK – which allows staff and students to search through the equipment records of each of the Midlands Innovation universities and book to use the equipment.

Staff and students at universities are able to borrow any of the listed items for their research or teaching use. Kit-Catalogue is also open to industry and SMEs, allowing them to hire out equipment that might otherwise be lying idle.

Kit-Catalogue was named winner of the 2012 S-Lab Award for Laboratory Equipment and Services and was shortlisted for the Outstanding ICT Project of the Year at the Times Higher Education awards

Jisc, which champions the importance and potential of digital technologies for UK education and research, is now running a national pilot of Kit-Catalogue applications with UK higher education institutions.

The aim is to assess the efficiency savings that the system is achieving and how it facilitates new collaborations between universities and with industry

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Midlands Physics Alliance


World-class research and teaching.

MPA-accordion-compThe Midlands Physics Alliance is a coordinated research group and joint Graduate School with the critical mass to compete with the top US and EU Universities.

The Alliance was established in 2007, with £5 million from the Engineering and Physics Sciences Research Council to invest in new, pioneering groups on cold atom physics. At its core, the Alliance consists of the Universities of Birmingham, Nottingham and Warwick. The Universities of Leicester and Loughborough are also represented on the Graduate School Steering Committee.

Building on this foundation, the Alliance hosts one of the four UK Quantum Technology Hubs, at the University of Birmingham, supported by £80 million in funding from both government and industry partners.

This promises to ensure that the Midlands is central to one of the key emerging fields of the 21st Century and will continue to create innovative, grounded and enduring solutions to real-world issues via quantum technology.

The Alliance has also established a £7 million Graduate School for training PhD students. The Ivy-League subject coverage this makes possible would be beyond the reach of each individual University and is made possible through real regional collaboration. Industrial placements play a key role in the joint Graduate School, providing essential real-world experience for students during their training.

The Alliance will continue to form the basis for further leading initiatives and provide a valuable template for the Midlands across other subjects.



National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands


At the forefront of healthcare innovation.


The National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands (NCSEM-EM) provides a brand new model in healthcare delivery, allowing academics to work in close collaboration with clinicians and, most importantly, with the members of the public who will benefit directly from the academics’ research.

The Centre is one of three centres across the UK established as part of the Government legacy programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The aim of the Centres is to improve the nation’s health and prevent the onset of disease.

As part of this, the staff are researching, developing and implementing effective preventive and treatment strategies for sports-related injuries and illnesses.

The Centre enables experts who specialise in conditions such as chronic disease, sports injuries and musculoskeletal health to work together to treat and prevent injuries caused by exercise and to tackle conditions associated with a lack of exercise.

As part of this, the staff are researching, developing and implementing effective preventive and treatment strategies for sports-related injuries and illnesses.

It also plays an important role in the ‘exercise is medicine’ agenda – helping those with diseases such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and osteoarthritis to alleviate their symptoms through exercise and enjoy a better quality of life.

The NCSEM-EM has been recognised as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Research Centre for Prevention of Injury and Protection of Athlete Health – one of just nine around the world.

Based on the Loughborough campus, the Centre is a joint initiative between Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham Universities, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, positioning the Midlands at the forefront of innovation in healthcare.



Enterprise Research Centre


Helping businesses understand how to drive growth and productivity.


The Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) undertakes research to develop our understanding of the factors affecting business investment performance and growth, focused on Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME), and to investigate the barriers to business start-ups and growth.

Focusing on the drivers of SME growth and productivity, ERC research is addressing the role of innovation and commercialisation in promoting productivity, the impact of barriers to finance on internationalisation, the role of management and leadership in promoting growth, and team size and entrepreneurial ambition.

ERC work has made an important contribution. The Unlocking UK Productivity report, produced in partnership with Goldman Sachs, the ERC and the British Business Bank, showed that UK productivity is boosted by increasing exporting and innovation among small and medium-sized firms, with productivity falling behind other economies because it is slower to turn ambitious smaller firms into exporters of innovative new products and services.

In addition, the ERC’s study, Benchmarking Local Innovation, mapped the UK’s ‘innovation geography’ for first time. The 2015 UK Growth Dashboard also revealed a surprise landscape of SME growth in the aftermath of the Great Recession, pinpointing growth hotspots in every region of the UK. The ERC also hosts the annual State of Small Business Britain conference.

Launched in 2013, the ERC is a partnership between leading Business Schools at the Universities of Aston and Warwick, together with Imperial College , Queens University Belfast and the University of Strathclyde. Funding for the Centre is provided by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Innovate UK and the British Business Bank.

Download buttons to both the Growth Dashboard and Innovation Benchmark are found on the ERC Reports page:



Manufacturing Technology Centre


Inspiring Great British manufacturing on the global stage.


The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) bridges the gap between research and industrial application, employing highly-skilled engineers and cutting-edge equipment to develop innovative new manufacturing processes and systems.

A university and industry partnership, including Airbus UK, Aero Engine Controls and Rolls-Royce, the centre seeks to stimulate major improvements in manufacturing competitiveness across industrial sectors throughout the supply chain.

The MTC houses some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment in the world, developing and demonstrating new technologies such as assembly systems, component manufacturing systems and data systems on an industrial scale. The purpose-built 12,000m2 facility is a unique environment, bringing the country’s leading academics, engineers and industry professionals together to deliver real change.

The MTC also hosts the Lloyds Bank Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre, to develop the next generation of skilled engineers that the UK manufacturing industry urgently needs to stay globally competitive.

The training centre aims to revolutionise engineering training, teaching young engineers in an unrivalled training environment, providing large and small companies in the manufacturing supply chain with skilled apprentices, and up-skilling existing engineers with the skills they need for the future.

In addition, the MTC’s Manufacturing Operational Efficiency team helps established businesses (SMEs, midcaps or large corporates) develop new products in a small scale manufacturing environment and start-ups and SMEs to incubate new business ideas and accelerate their journey to market.

Opened in 2011 at Ansty Park in Coventry, the MTC is a partnership between Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham universities and TWI Limited. It was established through a £40.5 million public grant with additional support from UK manufacturers and research organisations.