Chinese cash for new innovation centre at Nottingham University

Posted on 30 Aug 2012

The University of Nottingham is developing a new University Innovation Centre (UIC) with an aerospace company in China.

Under the agreement with Chinese Avic Commercial Aircraft Engine Company (ACAE), the university will undertake a number of civil aerospace research projects over the next three years.

One of the first pieces of research will be to investigate the impact damage on composite materials, as well as research into thermal barrier coatings to help improve the performance of engine components such as turbine blades, which have to operate in extremely high temperatures.

The University Innovation Centre being developed with ACAE is worth over £1m a year to the university, and follows on from a framework agreement which was signed with ACAE and its parent company AVIC, a large state-owned enterprise and an investment institution, earlier this year.

AVIC employs over 400,000 people in China and owns assets valued at £29bn. The company is already sponsoring a number of its own employees to undertake postgraduate and masters studies at the University of Nottingham.

It is the first time the company has collaborated with a British University. “Our work with the university will enable us to further develop our products and help to give us a competitive advantage in our market,” said Dr Victor Wang, the R&D director at ACAE.

The University of Nottingham is also building a new Aerospace Technology Centre, to strengthen links with global aerospace firms and increase the amount of industrial research undertaken in the sector.

The agreement means that it will be able to further enhance its understanding of composite materials and thermal barrier coatings, leading to the development of new technologies.

Professor Chris Rudd, the university’s pro-vice chancellor for business engagement and knowledge transfer, said: “China and other Asian economies will drive global civil aerospace growth over the next decade. We recognise that there is a tremendous opportunity for us to build close partnerships with ACAE and AVIC, to help develop innovative new solutions for them.”

The collaboration with ACAE is just one of many partnerships the university has recently secured with Chinese businesses this year following its work on the Ningbo campus and the Asia Business Centre.

Nottingham University recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the vehicle manufacturer FAW to undertake research into thermal management and heat transfer for low carbon vehicles.

Chinese drinks manufacturer Wahaha has agreed to establish joint research centres with the University of Nottingham to investigate bioenergy, animal feed, food technologies, electrical motors, and robotics.