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Loughborough University’s collaborative work with adidas shortlisted for best UK industry-academia partnership

Loughborough University and adidas are one of only six exceptional industry–academia partnerships from across the UK to be shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering Bhattacharyya Award.

a researcher holding an adidas ball

adidas Al Rihla Pro football testing, Sports Technology Institute

One of the world’s oldest and largest sportswear and equipment manufacturers, adidas has partnered with the University since 2002 to advance engineering knowledge that has brought iconic products to market and been translated beyond the global sports sector for wider societal impact.

Drawing on the University’s first-class capabilities in engineering, aerodynamics, ergonomics and sports science, project teams have worked to make sport safer, more accessible and allow people to perform at their best, whilst developing the adidas talent pipeline.

The collaborative research has influenced all adidas major tournament footballs since 2004, enabling innovative enhancements to ball balance, surface texture and aerodynamics. The most iconic footballs used on the international stage have benefited from the research with learnings from ball aerodynamics research translated to advances in automotive vehicle wake flow.

Expertise developed through the analysis of short duration collisions in football has benefited other sports, with Loughborough research informing new International Standards for cricket helmet performance that have eliminated facial injuries among professional helmeted batters. 

Loughborough and adidas developed the first-ever sweat body maps of males, females, and children to inform the company’s sector-leading clima® product range. These body maps are now widely used as a benchmark for thermal comfort, and are integrated into the first virtual Human Thermal Model which enables organisations worldwide to optimise product design for multiple populations across a range of industry sectors.

Full details of the impacts of the Loughborough adidas partnership are available on the University website.

The Bhattacharyya Award is a tribute to Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya KT CBE FREng FRS, the Regius Professor of Manufacturing at the University of Warwick and founder of WMG who advocated for greater collaboration between industry and universities. Funded by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the annual Bhattacharyya Award is open to UK universities and colleges that have demonstrated a sustained, strategic industrial partnership that has benefitted society and is deserving of national recognition. Industry–academia partnerships from any academic discipline are eligible for the Bhattacharyya Award.

In 2019, the inaugural year of the Bhattacharyya Award, the University was shortlisted for its partnership with Rolls-Royce, which first began in the 1960s and was formalised in 1991 with the establishment of the Rolls Royce University Technology Centre - later leading to the establishment of the National Centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology, on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park.

Professor Nick Jennings, Loughborough University Vice-Chancellor said: “I am hugely proud that the University’s outstanding collaborative track record with adidas has been recognised as one of the UK’s most exceptional industry–academia partnerships. adidas has enabled the University to raise the level of its research ambition, creating a world-class environment that continually opens new opportunities to advance original knowledge, drive innovation and enrich our student experience.”

The full shortlist of finalists including videos of the shortlisted partnerships is available on the Royal Academy of Engineering website.

The Bhattacharyya Award 2023 will be announced on the evening of 24 October and a cash prize of £25,000 will be presented to the winners.


Rajinder Bhuhi

Loughborough's business incubator further boosts support for start-ups

Loughborough University has further boosted its support to business start-ups with the appointment of a new Incubation and Acceleration Associate.

Rajinder Bhuhi will lead on a series of new, targeted programmes designed to enhance support to new businesses in the region, as well as providing specialist business guidance, training and coaching to early-stage entrepreneurs in the University’s dedicated business incubator, LUinc..

Rajinder, who joins from the University of Leicester, brings a wealth of expertise in leading and managing the delivery of innovation growth programmes. An experienced business coach, Rajinder has worked extensively with businesses to help them achieve their ambitions for growth and take their products, services and processes to market.

Rajinder’s appointment further bolsters the vibrant entrepreneurial community at LUinc.. Based at Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP) and at the Careers and Enterprise Hub in Loughborough town centre, the business incubator accepts expressions of interest all year round for people working on start-ups and social enterprises.

A key part of her role will include working to achieve the ambitions of the New Business Wayfinder programme, which aims to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs and help early-stage business founders to design, test and execute new business ideas.  

Part of the Healthy and Innovative Loughborough project funded by Loughborough Town Deal, New Business Wayfinder will lead to the creation of sixty new businesses and see companies gain access to a brand-new product & service Prototyping space at LUSEP as well as a dedicated innovation space in the town centre.

Rajinder said: “I am delighted to have joined the team and to have the opportunity to contribute to the already outstanding work being carried out with supporters and the dynamic community of entrepreneurs and founders within the team. I've received a warm and wonderful welcome to the #Loughboroughfamily, and I'm excited about the potential of further development and growth, both here locally in Loughborough and across the region. It will be great to form further connections and collaborations with our partners and stakeholders within all our networks."

Incubator manager Pete Hitchings said: I am thrilled that Rajinder has joined the team, especially as Loughborough is making significant investments in innovation, enterprise, and incubation to further its ambitions of supporting the growth of startups and spinouts. We have recently refurbished our incubator space and have numerous projects and activities underway to bolster our community of entrepreneurs and founders in their pursuit of growth. Having Rajinder on board is a fantastic boost for both the team and the region, and I look forward to our collaboration."

Support available through the programme is worth up to £10,000 and includes an office space, mentoring, and cut-price software. Other perks include expert-led workshops and training sessions, potential follow-on funding, networking opportunities and events.

Aspiring entrepreneurs who would like to express an interest can complete the online form or email to find out more and speak to an adviser.


Ed Brown, Research Director of the Modern Energy Cooking Services programme

Loughborough researcher shares expertise ahead of UN SDG Summit

A Loughborough University researcher has shared his expertise at a high-profile United Nations event in New York.

Professor Ed Brown, Research Director of the Loughborough-led Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme and Deputy Director of the Climate Compatible Growth programme, joined a consortium of leading voices to discuss potential solutions to tackle the lack of clean, sustainable household energy for cooking around the globe.

The high-level side event formed part of the United Nations' SDG Action Weekend, held ahead of the 2023 SDG Summit on 18 - 19 September. It brought together leading experts and influential policymakers to outline specific commitments and contributions to advancing progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Currently, over a third of the world's population still rely on traditional solid fuels - such as charcoal or wood - for cooking, which carries significant health risks and accounts for around 2% of the world’s total CO2 emissions.

Professor Brown contributed to discussions that explored the intricacies of implementing a 'global roadmap' to guide the transition to universal access to clean cooking - with the overall aim of achieving net-zero CO2 emissions from cooking by 2050.

Professor Brown’s involvement further highlights Loughborough’s position as a global leader in research and commitment to affordable and clean energy. Earlier this year, the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings placed Loughborough University first in the UK and 15th globally for advancing Affordable and Clean Energy – the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7.

The MECS programme – which is led by the Sustainable Transitions: Energy, Environment and Resilience Centre (STEER) within the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at Loughborough - aims to accelerate access to clean, electric cooking on a global scale.

MECS have recently worked with industry partners to form the Global Electric Cooking Coalition (GeCCo), which brings together experts and advocates from across the world to address the need to reduce carbon outputs generated by traditional cooking methods.

A recording of Professor Brown speaking at the event can be found on the MECS website