Researchers from Sheffield to collaborate on £138m Infrastructure and Cities Hub

In the Spending Review and Autumn Statement announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, last week, construction work on the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) hub, which has secured £138million of funding, was included in the key project starts for next year.

UKCRIC is a collaboration of fourteen UK Universities, including the University of Sheffield, which aims to provide a knowledge base to ensure the long-term functioning of the UK’s transport systems, energy systems, clean water supplies, waste management, flood defences and the development of SMART infrastructures. It addresses national problems, with research conducted at a local level.

The Integrated Civil and Infrastructure Research Centre (iCAIR) is the University of Sheffield’s translational facility that enables the Sheffield City Region, as part of the Northern Powerhouse, to redress the balance and translate advanced technology from high value manufacturing into the low productivity construction and infrastructure sectors.

labsAt the heart of the iCAIR project is one of the UK’s national water infrastructure research facilities which will help the UK tackle our ageing urban water systems.

Researchers from the Sheffield Water Centre, this includes staff from the Departments of Civil and Structural, Mechanical, Chemical & Biological and Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, will explore environmental factors affecting the deterioration of water assets, innovations to improve the UK’s urban water infrastructure and the implementation of new monitoring techniques to reduce flooding and water supply disruption.

Professor Martin Mayfield, who is leading this work at Sheffield, said: “the UKCRIC investment is a springboard that facilitates the creation of iCAIR, a new facility for industry engaged research. iCAIR will support a systematic exploration of the applications for disruptive technologies in Infrastructure to enable our society to thrive within the carrying capacity of our planet.”

Other UKCRIC focused activities at Sheffield include strategic development of a research roadmap for urban observatories, with the aim of bringing together multidisciplinary interests in an urban living lab, in addition to contributing to the development of the Coordination Node.

UCL’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy department is leading on and hosting the Coordination Node for UKCRIC, co-ordinating partnerships between industry, academia and government. This is seed funded by the EPSRC in anticipation of further developments.

Outside national security and medicine, UKCRIC will be one of the largest collaborative research projects in the UK. Current national and international partners include: Bristol City Council, Network Rail, Mott MacDonald, Buro Happold, Atkins, National Grid, DfT, EDF and Thames Water.

UKCRIC’s founding core of 14 Universities will be expanded over the coming years and more national and international partners, both academic and commercial, will be engaged.