University pump-priming funding with impact

The University of Liverpool can provide you with access to some of the brightest minds in the country. We work with organisations of all sizes to address local and global scientific, health and social challenges.

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.

The summaries below represent a range of Knowledge Exchange activity that has benefitted from pump-priming funds such as our Partnership Innovation Fund.

Co-creating a sustainable digital resource (LivCare) to foster cooperation between arts/cultural organisations and healthcare providers in addressing the COVID-19 impact on mental health in Liverpool City Region

Professor Josie Billington and Dr Katia Balabanova, School of the Arts.

This project builds on an AHRC-funded study which found that arts and cultural activities were essential in overcoming isolation in the Liverpool City Region (LCR) during COVID-19 lockdown. Collaborating with all relevant LCR stakeholder-groups and furthering LCR Combined Authority’s people-focused integrated recovery plan (Building Back Better 2020), the team will co-create a digital resource, LivCare, of best practice in inclusive arts-in-mental-health provision. LivCare will inform policy, widen provision and foster cross-sectoral co-operation, as well as provide a prototype for broader regional and potentially national scale-up supported by external funding.

KFC Net Zero Carbon (NZC) restaurant of the future

Dr Stephen Finnegan, School of Architecture

This project with one of the world’s largest Quick Service Restaurants, KFC, is responding to the UK Government requirement for all buildings to be NZC by 2050. This project aims to make the restaurant of the future and, through this partnership, KFC and the UoL will explore the construction materials currently being used to build new restaurants and will consider the low carbon alternatives to further reduce the embodied carbon. The KFC Zero Carbon Restaurant will enable KFC to make existing and new restaurants much more efficient through utilising available renewable energy and low carbon technologies. This will help KFC to tackle both the operational and embodied carbon footprint, as well as helping the business to investigate its Scope 3, value chain emissions.

Bridging the community asset data gap: Building Back Better in Liverpool City Region (LCR)

Sue Jarvis, Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place.

This research will contribute to LCR’s ‘Building Back Better’ strategy by advancing and developing an asset-based approach to local economic development in the context of the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated aftershocks. While asset-based approaches are of increasing interest to economic development practitioners, there remain significant gaps in the data eco-system around local assets, meaning these approaches sometimes struggle to fulfil their potential. This project seeks to address this issue collaboratively with partners at a neighbourhood level before scaling up to work with partners from LCR Combined Authority (LCRCA).

Maritime Mercantile City 2.0: Designing the innovation vision for Liverpool City Region Freeport

Professor Andy Plater, School of Environmental Sciences

The Liverpool City Region has an impressive track record for supporting clean growth and recognising the challenge of transitioning industry, and in particular the maritime sector, to zero carbon (‘net zero’). This project will engage major industrial partners to articulate the challenge of net zero, create and develop the vision for a Liverpool maritime innovation ecosystem and produce a blueprint for how that ecosystem can be a service to deliver solutions to meet the challenge. This aligns with the vision of LCR Freeport’s ‘hotbed’ of innovation and will help to establish where the city wants to be in the immediate and long term and the road map of how to get there.

Carbon dioxide reduction using molecular catalysts to make useful products

Professor Alex Cowan, Department of Chemistry

The chemicals industry is a key national and regional sector, and production of carbon dioxide at chemical plants and industrial sites more generally will continue to occur for the foreseeable future. This project aims to enable sustainable growth and tackle climate change by finding new ways to capture, store or convert this waste product. This will build on recent EPSRC funded research on catalysts that can convert carbon dioxide to useful chemical products, working with a potential beneficiary of this new technology and studying how to tailor the catalyst operating conditions and devices to the specific waste gas streams generated by this industry.

Low carbon solutions for infection control in healthcare settings

Dr Raechelle D’Sa, School of Engineering

This project is developing nanomaterial-based technologies that can control biofilms in hospital water systems, brought about by the specific heating and cooling requirements of these buildings. Hospitals have a significantly higher need for hot water for washing, hygiene, kitchens and disinfection of water systems. Microorganisms can attach to hospital water systems, which eventually form biofilms which are difficult to eradicate - currently only possible with hot water (>60C) in combination with biocides, which is extremely energy intensive. This project aims to develop nanomaterial-based technologies that can control biofilms in hospital water systems at lower water temperatures, thereby reducing the carbon footprint.

Interaction of bacteria and viruses with cellular and hard surfaces

Dr Jude Curran and Professor Eann Patterson, School of Engineering

This research is developing real time non-invasive label free tracking technologies that will be used to characterise and quantify bacterial motion through biological solutions and direct interactions with surfaces using light microscopy.  It uses caustics and associated tracking technologies as a platform that can be used to track bacterial behaviour in vitro and will have significant impact for many microbiology researchers and associated external partners.

BIO-COncrete for REsilient and Green WALLS for Infrastructure (BIOCOREWALLS)

Dr Luigi Di Sarno and Adam Mannis, School of Engineering

This project with leading concrete manufacturer JP Concrete and Sensicon, a smart construction products provider based at Sensor City in Liverpool, is developing the next generation of ultra-low carbon and resilient materials to decarbonise the construction sector. Concrete is the most widely used man-made material on Earth but is a major emitter of carbon dioxide. It is estimated the cement industry contributes 7% of all CO2 emissions worldwide. This project is developing ultra-low carbon concrete mixes that are highly durable in any environment and can be used in pre-cast concrete units. Due to their unique concrete properties, these products not only increase the lifecycle of structures but also self-heal to fill cracks in concrete that might occur over time.

Low energy/emissions production of materials using additive manufacturing methodologies for the iron and steel making process

Dr Kate Black, School of Engineering 

The iron and steel industry is one of the biggest industrial emitters of CO2. Iron ore, a raw material staple in the ironmaking process, typically comes in the form of fine powders unsuitable for use in blast furnaces. The thermal agglomeration process required to enable their use is thermally expensive and emits considerable amounts of CO2. This project aims replace this step with a new printing process which reduces greenhouse gas production, lessening the environmental impact whilst allowing for optimisation of steel materials produced. If the proposed system is successful, it will play a significant role in the reduction of global CO2 emissions.

Thermo-regulating magnetic covers for autonomic zero-CO2 heating of domestic and industrial areas

Dr Dimitry Shchukin, Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, School of Physical Sciences

Around 48% of energy consumption in UK is accounted for water and space heating. These numbers indicate the enormous potential for new innovative solutions for harvesting thermal energy from zero-CO2 emission sources. The sun is one of the main sources of CO2-free energy. However, the current use of sunlight is mainly focused on UV/vis part, leaving the IR part mostly not employed as a CO2-free energy source. This project, based on the ERC project ENERCAPSULE, will develop magnetic cover sheets with thermo-regulating properties, provided by innovative energy capsules, for thermal energy storage. This simple but ambitious idea will lead to products that reduce thermal energy losses and CO2 emissions.


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