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New Italian research base puts UK university on the map for R&D in low-carbon air travel


The University of Nottingham is establishing a research base in Italy that will strengthen both its close alliances with Europe’s aerospace leaders and its position at the forefront of technological innovation in green aviation.

Situated in the Campania region, the University of Nottingham Italy (UnIT) will allow its researchers to participate in High Technology-Readiness Level (TRL) aerospace programmes and maintain access to key industrial partners such as Leonardo, Airbus, Rolls-Royce Deutschland, Safran, Liebherr and Thales.

Campania is home to the Italian National Centre for Aerospace Research (CIRA), and significant aerospace industries, including one of the University of Nottingham’s long-standing partners, Leonardo Aircraft Division – the second largest manufacturer of aircraft in Europe.

Chris Gerada, Professor of Electrical Machines in the Faculty of Engineering, said: “Establishing a research base in Italy is exciting for us. It underlines our capabilities and is testament to the strengths of our existing partnerships with Europe’s aerospace leaders. It also demonstrates our determination to explore new collaborations in the journey towards low-emission, sustainable air travel.

“Participation in the proposed European Partnership for Clean Aviation and other Large Scale Demonstrator programmes has the potential to exploit the University’s research expertise related to the electrification of aircraft, advanced manufacturing technologies and other key areas such as hydrogen energy systems.”

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University said: “The University of Nottingham in Italy is a testament to our strategic ambitions as a global university; playing to our research strengths in sustainable aerospace technologies, and together with our European partners, will help to deliver aviation’s net zero commitments.”

Nottingham is already the leading university contributor to Clean Sky 2, Europe’s largest research programme focussed on the reduction of emissions and increasing the competitiveness of the aeronautics industry.

Through its Institute for Aerospace Technology, the University is now planning to work with aviation leaders on the European Partnership for Clean Aviation, which is due to go online in 2021. This will be the European Union’s flagship programme dedicated to reducing the impact of aviation on the planet and strengthening the technological leadership of the region’s aerospace industry.

Nottingham has attracted £19.5m from Clean Sky 2, and its current EU-funded aerospace research portfolio is £24.5m – 40 per cent of the University’s EU portfolio. Nottingham’s participation in Clean Sky 2 has led to direct research investment by several aerospace Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), expansion of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Gas Turbines Transmission Systems and a partnership with TT Electronics.

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