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Sustainability Research Institute

Partnerships and Collaborations

Non-academic impact is integral to the Unit’s research agenda, which emphasises the application of a critical and rigorous approach to address the practical problems faced by our external partners and other non-academic users, particularly in industry and policy-making organisations. SRI focuses on the cultivation of relationships that facilitate knowledge transfer; many of its researchers are also practitioners, for whom research and impact are different facets of the same activity. The group encourages and facilitates external collaboration as a means of effecting knowledge transfer, partly through its flexible, client-focussed research approach. Herein, methods are adapted to best meet the specific situational and client needs of the client in order to maximise the value of our work particular briefs and projects, and to broader policy outcomes.

Commissioned research constitutes an important cornerstone of our approach to realising and maximising non-academic impact, particularly in terms of ensuring the relevance of our work in meeting specific partner needs. Examples of commissioned research conducted since 2008 include our delivery for the Commission for Sustainable London (CSL) of a peer review of the Olympic Scheme. This built on SRI's previous development of an Olympic Games Impact Study for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). The Unit’s 2012 Manufactured Aggregate Research Centre (MARC) project, demonstrates the further significance of collaborative work to our capacity to deliver important non-academic impacts. In this instance, SRI worked with RTAL Ltd (Hong Kong) and Trefoil Technology Ltd (UK).

We also seek to engage the public in our research itself including, for example, through our annual 'Live Project' Workshop Programme, which involves community-based research in projects designed to influence and improve community environments. The spectrum of partners and clients benefitting from these sorts of community-based participatory research and dissemination projects span local communities and Schools (Newham, Camden, Westminster); local Councils and policy-makers (Borough, Newham, Tower Hamlets); international NGOs such as Article 25; charitable foundations and private clients.

Since 2008 the Unit has also fostered numerous research partnerships with HEIs beyond the UK, supporting diversity and pluralism within the research community and maximising localised non- academic collaborative opportunities. Our partners include the Universidad Finis Terrae - Santiago (UFT); Venice (IUAV); Kazan (Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering); St Petersburg (SUACE); Akmi University (Athens), and Guangzhou University in China. These have allowed us to deliver extra-academic impacts, for example through the 2012 China UK Challenge (CUKC), which encourages new business ventures between China and the UK.

Alongside collaborative and commissioned research, the group uses its expertise in coordinating large co-research projects involving non-academic partners. This approach helped ensure our involvement in the 'Transitioning towards Urban Resilience and Sustainability' (TURaS) project, a five-year, €6.8m EU funded scheme set up in 2012. TURaS brings together a total of 28 European partners (9 Higher Education institutions, 11 local authorities and 8 SMEs) with urban communities and businesses to develop sustainable solutions to the challenges of climate change, natural resource shortages and rapid urban growth. SRI’s contribution to the project, which is led by Newport and Connop, focuses on a number of key research themes, including leading on policy guidance for innovative ‘Green Infrastructure’.

Consultation activity and staff engagement with influential advisory boards and committees providing expert advice to policy-makers and other organisations constitutes another significant channel for our transfer of research insights and expertise to both policy-making and practitioner audiences. Chandler was invited to develop the award winning ‘New Conservation’ project in Chile based on his RIBA standing as an expert in building Conservation, leading to policy influence with the Chilean Government around the conservation of national monuments (see case study UEL16-02). Minton has provided policy reports for the RIBA, Demos, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, CABE and the homeless charity Shelter. Lindsay was a specialist scientific advisor for IUCN at the ‘UK Peatland Program Commission of Enquiry’; this led to the IUCN running the DEFRA sponsored event at COP10 Convention of Biological Diversity (Nagoya, Japan 2010) and, in turn, to the development of learning resources including the IUCN Field Guide as catalogues for partner organisations (see UEL16-01).





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SRI: Sustainability Research Institute
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