UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


Scottish universities join UCL in UKCRIC partnership to advance UK infrastructure research

1 October 2019

The UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) has announced that they are bringing on board the Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering, swelling UKCRIC’s total number of leading university partners, including UCL, to 15.

A view of Edinburgh castle and the city at night.

The addition of the Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering - constituted of the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University – indicates UKCRIC’s continued growth and development. UKCRIC’s capacity to improve infrastructure will directly benefit UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE), and UCL as a whole, with researchers able to take advantage of this added knowledge and resource.

UCL has been a member of UKCRIC since it was founded in 2015, when the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) provided capital funding of £130m to initiate the development and construction of the UKCRIC test facilities. 

This news coincides with the launch of the new UKCRIC website, detailing information on each of the eleven test facilities, and six urban observatories under the UKCRIC umbrella.

UKCRIC, the coordination node for which is currently based within CEGE, provides leadership and support for the development and growth of a coordinated and coherent, world class, UK-based national infrastructure research community. It is working to improve infrastructure for the benefit of all citizens, and is doing this by adhering all research projects to a set of missions. These missions are designed to facilitate the delivery of interconnected, integrated and multi-disciplinary research programmes and projects. 

A key aim of UKCRIC is to provide a strong infrastructure research base from which policy and decisions on infrastructure spending may be better informed. This collaboration will bring with it the added benefit of bringing UKCRIC closer to infrastructure decision-making in Scotland, increasing opportunities to positively influence UK governments. 

The Centre for Future Infrastructure within Edinburgh Futures Institute at the University of Edinburgh has several areas of interest that align with and complement those of UKCRIC. Last year, the UK and Scottish governments invested £1.3bn in the ambitious Edinburgh and South East City Region Deal, to deliver inclusive economic growth across the region by investing heavily in infrastructure comprising housing, innovation, transport, skills and culture. The leverage created by the significant additional funding into related facilities at the Universities of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt open many opportunities for multi-disciplinary collaborative research, a key value of the UKCRIC agenda. The increasing links with Edinburgh’s informatics community, the recently opened Bayes Institute at Edinburgh, and the Alan Turing Institute, of which Edinburgh University is a founder member, create additional entry points for collaborative data-driven research with UKCRIC members. 

Brian Collins, Professor of Engineering Policy at UCL and UKCRIC Deputy Convenor, noted: "The UK Collaboratorium for Research on Cities and Infrastructure (UKCRIC) facilitates major research activity across initially 13 UK Universities, involving about £250M investment by the UK Government and partners in laboratories and research programmes. The programme is coordinated from CEGE in UCL, and UCL also has a major laboratory under development, PEARL, led by Professor Nick Tyler. We are now entering a phase of expansion of UKCRIC and I am delighted that the combination of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt universities are joining the Collaboratorium with immediate effect. They bring facilities, skills and knowledge that complement those already present in the consortium and I am sure will enable UCL and others to collaborate on programmes of great value to UK society and its economy."

Gordon Masterton, Chair of Future Infrastructure at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Being welcomed into the UKCRIC group of universities is a testimony to the quality of multi-disciplinary research and data-driven innovation within the Edinburgh Research Partnership and it gives Scotland's infrastructure policy makers a portal to the premier research-base in the UK."

William Powrie, Convenor of UKCRIC, said: "We are delighted to welcome both the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University to the UKCRIC family. We gain a wealth of knowledge and expertise through this collaboration, not only through these institutions but from Scottish research more widely, as this collaboration will act as an entry point for all Scottish universities to collaborate with UKCRIC."


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  • An aerial view of Edinburgh at night. Credit: Roan Lavery on Unsplash.