Zero Carbon Research Initiative (ZCRI) showcased in University of Liverpool Higher Education Innovation Fund Investments

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Hands holding cogs signifying knowledge exchange

Since 2017, the University of Liverpool has invested £740K through the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) in pump priming projects with external partners, which has resulted in a further £14.6M of funding being awarded from external sources.

Previous schemes

Previous HEIF investments were designed to pump prime projects with non-higher education institution (non-HEI) partners that align with key themes. Various projects went on to apply for over £40M of research funds from a variety of funders, including research councils, direct industry funding and innovation funding, and of this £14.6M has been awarded to projects providing nearly a 20x return on investment.

The Research, Partnerships and Innovation (RPI) Directorate has built on the University’s successful engagement with the Government’s Industrial Strategy to help inform future Knowledge Exchange (KE) plans. The Government’s Industrial Strategy (IS) ran over four years until July 2021, and aimed to boost productivity by backing businesses.

HEIF funding was awarded through pump priming schemes such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which helped university researchers to initiate new relationships with industrial partners, as well as the University of Liverpool’s Partnership, Recovery and Resilience (PRR) Fund – these schemes ran from 2017/18 to 2020/21. The Partnership Innovation Fund (PIF), new for 2022, is currently open for applications, with a deadline of 9am on 5 September. These pump priming schemes act as a catalyst for the successful applicants, providing an initial investment to help get a project started, supporting the research collaboration, before the team go on to apply for future external funding.

Professor Anthony Hollander, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact said: “We are committed to developing partnerships and collaborations that meet the needs of the rapidly evolving external landscape. It’s great to see such a high return on the investment of our HEIF allocation. The collaborations that have emerged from the schemes have accelerated activities that tackle the issues we face, both within the local region as well as nationally and internationally.”

“The pump priming funding enabled us to undertake the initial pilot work that was essential for early proof-of-concept for the project”, said Dr Stephen Finnegan, Director of the Zero Carbon Research Initiative (ZCRI) and Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Sustainable Architecture. He submitted a project ‘KFC Net Zero Carbon (NZC) restaurant of the future’ to respond, in partnership with KFC, to the UK Government requirement for all buildings to be NZC by 2050. This project is progressing well and KFC have since committed a further £100K in funding. “The funding has been instrumental in developing our partnership further to create a new standard for future restaurant construction and means we can help KFC seamlessly integrate changes” he continued.

Previously successful applications have come from across all three faculties. Dr Peter Green, Senior Lecturer in Uncertainty and Engineering for the Department of Engineering was successfully awarded PRR funding in 2021 for a project that has become part of a suite of activities that NSG Pilkington is undertaking, and has led to a further £110K in funding from both NSG Pilkington and TFI Network+.

Find out more about the impact of knowledge exchange at the University of Liverpool.