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Three Brunel University research projects hailed as 'Big Ideas for the Future'

ICE/IMechE/IET Professional Engineering Institutions

Three groundbreaking Brunel University research projects – in the fields of metals manufacturing, healthcare systems and human-centred design – have been included in a national report highlighting the 100 most significant ideas emerging from UK universities.

The Big Ideas for the Future report, jointly published today [16 June 2011] by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK, brings together leading university research projects from across the nation. Research from all academic fields was eligible to be included in the report and three of Brunel University’s projects were selected for inclusion from hundreds of submissions. The report is narrated and backed by high-profile names such as Professor Lord Robert Winston, Dr Alice Roberts and Professor Iain Stewart.

Brunel’s research projects – called Foot-LITE, the Cumberland Initiative and LiME – seek to solve fundamental problems facing today’s society and have the potential to make a significant contribution to the UK economy.

Foot-LITE, led by human-centred design expert Dr Mark Young, seeks to address the twin problems of road safety and environmental impact by creating a revolutionary driver information system to encourage safer and greener driving, as well as encouraging longer term behavioural changes. Using existing technologies, Foot-LITE will capture, process and display information about journeys and driving style through user-friendly smartphone applications. With web access, drivers will be able to see post-journey feedback for a comprehensive review of their driving behaviour, as well as share data with an online community.

The Cumberland Initiative is developing and refining simulations of healthcare processes, systems and computer models so that health service staff can operate and deploy resources in the most effective and cost-efficient ways. Led by Professor Terry Young, the Initiative’s ‘20:20 vision’ aims to deliver an extra million quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) from the current £100 billion spent annually on the NHS. It also aims to save 20 per cent of the current annual NHS budget (£20 billion) by identifying the training and research needed to offer credible tools and methods for operations, commissioning and policy.

The Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Liquid Metal Engineering (LiME) is focused on the science and engineering of metallic materials and seeks to transform our understanding of the nucleation process of liquid metallic materials prior to solidification processing. The Centre’s vision is to achieve full metal recirculation through advanced technologies for reuse, remanufacture and recycling of secondary metals and, in doing so, to make a significant contribution to the metals industry, worth £17 billion a year to the UK economy. The LiME group is led by Brunel’s Professor Zhongyun Fan.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Brunel, Professor Geoff Rodgers, said: Brunel University is an institution that prides itself on the innovative nature of its research and its academic community, so I am delighted that three of our research projects have been selected by RCUK and UUK as Big Ideas for the Future. This suggests that Brunel is well placed to make a substantial contribution to the challenges facing society in the next millennium.”

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair Elect of RCUK, said: “Research has an impact on all our lives. Whether it is a breakthrough in experimental science, or a project that leads us to understand better the strengths and weaknesses of our society, research is the key to the UK’s growth, prosperity and wellbeing. Big Ideas for the Future showcases just some of the excellent research being carried out in UK universities that achieves these aims. It is vital we continue to support the talented individuals whose work makes a real difference.”

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, added: “The research that has taken place at UK universities has helped to change the world and the way we live [and] it is great to see this tradition of world-leading innovation continue. I would like to congratulate Brunel University on their inclusion in the Big Ideas for the Future report, and wish them the best of luck with their research.”

The publication of the report forms part of the second annual Universities Week, which takes placefrom 13-19 June 2011, and aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK’s universities. Universities Week looks at the many different ways in which universities affect all of our lives — from supporting the economy, to working within local communities, to looking at how their research programmes could change our futures. Hundreds of events, open to members of the public, will be taking place around the country, as well as high-profile media coverage and activity across social media networks.

To download a full version of the report, please visit http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/bigideas. For more information on Universities Week, visit www.universitiesweek.org.uk and to show your support.



1. Please direct any media enquiries to:

Regional media enquiries contact: 

Brunel University Press Office

National media enquiries contact:

Elizabeth Porter
020 7010 0851  

2. Universities Week is taking place from 13-19 June 2011, and aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK’s universities. A full list of events taking place can be found at www.universitiesweek.org.uk. Supporters can also find out more about the campaign by joining the Universities Week Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/ukuniversities. The campaign is being co-ordinated by Universities UK.

3. Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 133 members and offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh, it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally. Visit: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk

4. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils. We invest annually around £3 billion in research. Our focus is on excellence with impact. We nurture the highest quality research, as judged by international peer review providing the UK with a competitive advantage. Global research requires we sustain a diversity of funding approaches, fostering international collaborations, and providing access to the best facilities and infrastructure, and locating skilled researchers in stimulating environments.

Our research achieves impact – the demonstrable contribution to society and the economy made by knowledge and skilled people. To deliver impact, researchers and businesses need to engage and collaborate with the public, business, government and charitable organisations. www.rcuk.ac.uk