Neil Crout

October 20, 2022, by Rob Ounsworth

Our commitment to sharing knowledge for the benefit of all 

Update from Professor Neil Crout

Nottingham has been reaffirmed as one of England’s leading universities for working collaboratively with industry and the public sector. 

Research England’s Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) demonstrates our commitment to the sharing of knowledge and is an opportunity for universities to evidence how we support regional and national priorities and sustainable economic growth. 

KEF’s new interactive website includes a dashboard where our sector-leading performance, which also includes the commercialisation of Intellectual Property, can be viewed alongside those of other universities. 

KEF and Nottingham: find out more 

Electrification business unit is UK first 

Our commitment to working with business – as evidenced in the latest Knowledge Exchange Framework – is underlined by news that Nottingham has become the first UK university to create an independent business unit for the industrialisation of electrical motors and drive systems. 

Nottingham Drive Specialist Services (NDSS) is delivering commercial services to companies across the world and support the UK’s drive towards electrification by providing bespoke development, manufacturing and testing of electrical motors to businesses across the supply chain. 

The unit underlines our commitment to making our world-leading facilities and knowledge available for societal benefit and is based at the recently opened Power Electronics and Machines Centre (PEMC), where businesses can access a unique service that spans the life cycle of a project – from design through to manufacture and testing – as well more than £20 million of state-of-the-art equipment. Of course the industrial income generated also helps us to maintain these brilliant facilities. 

Funding for innovative space technology

The university’s  Aerospace Unlocking Potential (UP) programme has meanwhile pledged more than £110,000 in funding to three UK businesses working to improve sustainability in space exploration, from cutting down on space debris and waste by developing sustainable satellite propulsion systems and tanks, to improving transfer and analysis of data from orbit. 

Such support for industry is a key pillar of the university’s mission. Our renewed research strategy includes research and innovation clusters in net zero technologies, as well as health, and digital, underlining our commitment to building partnerships to accelerate the translation of our research into real impact. 

Supporting and recognising great work 

A cornerstone of our vision for research at Nottingham is to support you to do the highest quality work possible research we can all be proud of and that is recognised as excellent by our peers. 

To translate such topclass research into benefits in the wider world requires time and world-class facilities, infrastructure all of which costs money. It is not surprising that professional researchers spend a lot of time chasing money and tend to score their successes in cash terms. But we should also remind ourselves this is just a shorthand – what we really care about is great research and great research outcomes.  

Our funding successes allow teams of outstanding people to deliver innovations and solutions that will truly make a difference. I am delighted to share news of such notable successes, plus recognition for researchers who are emerging as leaders in their field. 

£23.3m for NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre 

The NIHR (National Institute for Health and Social Care Research) Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre is to receive £23.3m in funding to help accelerate the development of new treatments for common illnesses such as asthma, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, depression and arthritis. 

Nottingham BRC has also brought in a further £182m of external funding to support research and published 3,000 papers since it was founded in 2017, leading to breakthrough treatments and diagnostics including significant contributions to both Covid-19 and Long Covid research. 

Led by Ian Hall, Professor of Molecular Medicine, the centre brings together experts in mental health, respiratory, gastrointestinal, liver and musculoskeletal conditions as well as hearing loss from the university and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, plus NHS and academic partners across the East Midlands. The funding will also significantly contribute to the development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging technologies for health, which is a cornerstone of our research programme in Nottingham. 

Nottingham scientists receive funding to tackle complex biological problems 

A team led by Dr Boyan Bonev from the School of Life Sciences and other world-class experts have been awarded more than £19m by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to explore how bacteria rescue and repair their cell membranes during acute stress.  

Working with experts from the universities of York, Cambridge and Newcastle, Dr Bonev’s team’s research will help advance knowledge of antimicrobial resistance and applications for industrial biotechnology. 

Royal Society Research Fellowship 

Ben Pilgrim from the School of Chemistry has been awarded a five-year fellowship from the Royal Society for research that could help secure a sustainable future for the global chemical industry. 

The award, worth over £1 million, will allow Dr Pilgrim to develop his research into the molecular self-assembly of “nanoboxes”, which are 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. These catalysts will have a transformative impact by offering agile, sustainable alternatives to reliance on dwindling supplies of chemical elements, which are currently essential for the manufacture of everyday products. 

Royal Society University Research Fellowships are among the most prestigious awarded to scientists in the UK at the beginning of their career. They allow researchers to pursue high-risk, high-reward long term goals that cross the boundaries of traditional disciplines. Congratulations! 

China role for Future Food expert 

Congratulations also to Tania Dottorini of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and the Future Food Beacon, who has been appointed the Director for the Centre of Smart Food for Health, at the University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus. 

Dr Dottorini is currently working on a large project – FARMWATCH – which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to understand and contain the emergence of antibiotic resistance in the livestock production system in China.  

The latest paper for Dr Dottorini and her team was published in ISME: Dissecting microbial communities and resistomes for interconnected humans, livestock and soil. 

Young Criminologist of the year 

Philippa Tomczak, Principal Research Fellow in Criminology, has received the 2022 Young Criminologist Award from the European Society of Criminology, in recognition of her research into prison safety. 

Dr Tomczak, who is Director of prisonHEALTH, a group of multidisciplinary academics who deliver research to help improve health in detention, won the award for an article published in Theoretical Criminology, “Reconceptualizing multisectoral prison regulation: Voluntary organizations and bereaved families as regulators”. 

Researchfish: get ready for 2023 submissions window 

Researchfish is an online platform that allows researchers to report to funders on the outcomes and impact of their research. 

It’s an essential tool supporting the university’s research strategy and helps us demonstrate the value of over £45 billion of funding to universities from government, donors and stakeholders. 

I am sure you are all super-excited to know: Researchfish’s submissions opens on 6 February 2023 and closes at 4pm on 16 March 2023.  

Even if not overly excited I’m afraid we need to do our bit to help our funders show that research investment is a good thing in the world! 

In 2022, we achieved a 98.6% Researchfish compliance rate, with a 100% compliance for submissions related to UKRI Research Councils. 

I would like to thank colleagues for their continuing support and recognition that Researchfish allows us to demonstrate how investment in our world-class research links to impact that changes lives. 

By submitting such data, our researchers also raise the profile of their work, as Researchfish case studies inform reporting to government and other stakeholders. 

For guidance please contact the Business Analysis and Reporting Team on 

Improving our world ranking 

Finally, it is good to see that the University of Nottingham has jumped an impressive 11 places to position 130 according to the Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2023, our highest position for almost a decade. We maintain our position as 18th in the UK. 

Analysis of the rankings indicate that the university’s position has been enhanced by the volume, income and reputation of our research, including our influential response to Covid and contribution to recovery; improvements in highly cited research; knowledge exchange and income from industry, as well as our international outlook and teaching environment. Loathe them or not, league tables are a fact of life and are influential in student recruitment – so we do need to keep an eye on them. 

Best wishes 

Neil Crout signature

Professor Neil Crout
Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange



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