The SDF investment of £10 million in 2010 was a key enabler to the formation of the UK’s largest university-business collaboration at the University of Southampton. It saw the consolidation of the South Coast’s Solent region as a global centre of excellence for marine and maritime activities by proving crucial to the development of the University of Southampton’s Boldrewood Innovation Campus. A £160 million centre for research, teaching, corporate engagement and innovation, the campus is home to the university’s hydro-sciences facility containing a 138-metre towing tank, anechoic wind chamber and teaching space.
All of these facilities are integral to the university’s teaching and research, and are now a magnet attracting further inward investment and relocation into the Solent region. It is also home to the new National Infrastructure Laboratory, which is part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure in Cities.
The creation of the Boldrewood Campus encouraged Lloyd’s Register (LR) to relocate its Global Technology Centre from London to Southampton, bringing over 400 engineers and managers to the city. LR’s custom-built base anchors one corner of the Campus, adjacent to the largest of the university’s research and teaching facilities on the site. This has enabled LR to broaden from its naval architecture base to much more engagement with the university in electronics, electrochemistry, autonomous systems, cyber security, tribology and advanced materials. These activities collectively enhance the overall university-business partnership by providing intelligence about new technologies and the assurance process for accelerating these innovations into the marketplace.
The co-location of the University of Southampton with LR facilitates formal and informal interactions between staff from both organisations, and encourages close engagement with Southampton’s students. The move has clearly tapped into the natural affinity enjoyed by the university and LR, and created a new and enhanced synergy between the two organisations; the university with its mission ‘to change the world for the better’ and LR’s mission of ‘working together for a safer world’.
The Boldrewood Campus is set to continue to enhance the Solent region’s leadership in the marine and maritime sector for decades to come – not just in the UK, but worldwide. The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has built much of its strategic economic plan around the marine and maritime industry, and it has stimulated activities such as the Satellite Applications Catapult South Coast Centre of Excellence, the South Coast Marine Cluster, and the largest concentration of fibre composite manufacturers and engineering developers in the UK. The Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing Team (BAR) has also located itself in the Solent to tap this expertise.
Through the wide range of research, education and enterprise activities focused around the Campus, the economic development of the marine and maritime industry in Southampton and the Solent region is receiving direct benefits. The innovative environment of the Campus provides an enhanced teaching experience for students that forms the basis for their life-long contributions to society.
Boldrewood Campus is also synonymous with collaboration and the focal point for ever-expanding educational and business relationships at local, national and international levels. The University of Southampton’s specialised and unique facilities enable many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with limited resources to innovate and grow their businesses in ways they would not otherwise be able to do, enabling them to employ many graduates.
The Campus has enabled Boldrewood-based Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI) to join together the University, LR, and a number of international partners – Shell, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, BP, Microsoft and ARUP – to work together in tackling global marine and maritime challenges, and keeping the UK at the forefront of the global technology race. These and other partnerships formed on the Campus have also directly led to the development of a joint laboratory in Singapore focusing on Maritime and Offshore Engineering Research & Development with A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing. These collaborations have also led to the joint 2015 publication of the visionary Global Marine Technology Trends 2030 report by LR, QinetiQ and the University of Southampton, which has recently been updated to focus on the future of autonomous systems in marine and maritime industries.
The Lloyd’s Register partnership also helped the university to attract further significant HEFCE funding of £10 million from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) to support the construction of next-generation laboratories on the new campus.
Photograph provided by the University of Southampton