SWIP is engaging with regional and national universities, coordinated through the University of Bristol.
It is vital that SWIP’s activities are underpinned by methodological and objective rigour. The challenges that SWIP is addressing are truly systemic and transdisciplinary. Knowledge and capability to tackle these kinds of issue are still limited and are a major focus of much academic research globally.
The regional and many UK universities are at the forefront of this research, which needs to be anchored in real-world contexts and co-produced with wide ranging stakeholder groups.
The SW region is an ideal context. It carries many generic issues that will translate to other regions and countries. Knowledge and understanding of generic issues will underpin global collaboration frameworks and, ultimately, the entrepreneurial marketplaces and supply chains that will deliver the capability to solve these issues.
But the peninsular geography of the SW also raises unique issues that are equally important and must be addressed if the region is to be successful. Such context and situation specific issues are of equal research interest.
UKRI, Government’s overarching research funding body, is directing funding towards decarbonisation and post-Covid-19 challenges. This creates opportunity for imaginative research and development to be funded across the academic and business domains.
The engaged universities are well-placed to access this funding. In particular, the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC – www.ukcric.com), of which the University of Bristol is a founding partner, is a key research provider to the National Infrastructure Commission. UKCRIC is developing a range of state-of-the-art laboratories, urban observatories and national data analytics capabilities that SWIP will be able to draw upon.
SWIP Steering Board member, Professor Colin Taylor CEng, FICE, is responsible for convening the academic engagement and how it is embedded in the emerging SWIP route map.