Universities Minister visits campus

Maths, artificial intelligence, robotics and fluid dynamics were on the agenda when Universities Minister Chris Skidmore visited campus.

Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, with Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, and Dr Bruno Scaglioni, Research Fellow in Surgical Robotics, during the visit to Leeds

Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, sees some of our research in action.

In the region yesterday as part of a fact-finding mission, the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation was at Nexus to hear about the research and teaching taking place at Leeds across these key areas.

He also met talented early career researchers and spoke to two of the businesses based within Nexus – Vet AI and Scaled Insights.

Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, who welcomed the Minister along with Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “We welcome the opportunity to highlight how work at Leeds is focused on solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, whilst boosting private sector R&D, jobs and economic progress in Leeds.

“Our research has great impact because our researchers work in multi-disciplinary teams, spanning engineering, science and health disciplines, large and small companies and the public sector.

“In this way, we are helping to transform human health, address the impacts of climate change, transport, engineering design and security.”

We have one of the largest mathematics research departments in the UK, delivering high-impact research across applied mathematics, financial mathematics, pure mathematics and statistics.

Researchers in the School of Mathematics are actively involved with colleagues across the University working to solve a wide range of societal challenges, including Leeds Institute for Data Analytics and the Leeds Institute for Fluid Dynamics (LIFD).

Fluid dynamics: going with the flow

The Universities Minister met key researchers from LIFD, a cross-disciplinary research institute that brings together the expertise of more than 200 members of staff, postdoctoral and PhD researchers.

We have a 50-year interdisciplinary track record of research and a strong international reputation in fluid dynamics, which lies at the heart of numerous challenges faced by industry and society across the world.

Fluid dynamics focuses on fundamental physics and underpinning methodologies for fluids, as well as applications across energy and transport; environmental flows; geophysical and astrophysical flows; biomedical flows; and industrial processes.

The University hosts the UK’s only centre for doctoral training (CDT) in fluid dynamics, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which will train more than 50 PhD students over five years.

Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, looking at some pioneering robotics prototype with Dr James Chandler and Professor Pietro Valdastri.Pictured (from left) are Dr James Chandler, Research Fellow in Medical Robotics, demonstrates a prototype to Chris Skidmore and Professor Pietro Valdastri, Chair in Robotics and Autonomous Systems in the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Artificial intelligence, real advances

The Minister also learnt more about our contribution to the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence (AI). We are leading the way by exploring the integration of advances in deep learning, symbolic reasoning, vision, language and robotics.

In the health domain, amongst other nationally-important research centres, we lead the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence for Medical Diagnosis and Care, partnering with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and several other key industry and public sector organisations.

Pioneering robotics

Leeds also hosts the £4.3m EPSRC National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems, providing academic leadership in robotics and autonomous systems, expanding collaboration with industry and integrating and coordinating activities across the research council’s activities in this discipline.

Other pioneering robotics work is carried out by the Science and Technologies of Robotics in Medicine (STORM) Lab, where researchers work across several fields of surgical robotics to enable earlier diagnosis, wider screening and more effective treatment for life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

Connecting business and research

The backdrop for Chris Skidmore’s visit was Nexus, which connects business to our world-leading research capabilities, talent and facilities, building on a strong reputation for transforming academic research into commercial success – Leeds has created more than 110 spinout companies in the past 25 years.

Nexus is now supporting a growing community of members comprising technology-led, high-growth businesses aligned to key areas of strength and expertise at Leeds.

Successful collaborations between the University and Nexus members have already attracted more than £5.3m of research funding.

Regional leader

We are leading a Leeds City region team through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP), run by the Sloan School of Management.

The programme will ensure that Leeds continues to be the city of choice for entrepreneurs and start-ups, and provides the right support and infrastructure for innovation driven entrepreneurship.

Find out more information about Leeds’ place on the REAP and its successful bid to host the MIT REAP workshop.

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