An aerial shot of Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park, featuring a number of buildings

Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park, where a new battery-electrolyser will be installed, with the ambition to be coupled to a solar PV array to generate green hydrogen.

Universities to receive first East Midlands Freeport funding to accelerate green hydrogen adoption for a net zero future

Loughborough University, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, has been selected to receive a significant funding boost from East Midlands Freeport.

The investment will help accelerate the translation of zero carbon research into high-impact innovations with commercial and policy solutions to meet the climate challenge.

More than five million pounds from East Midlands Freeport, match-funded by Loughborough University and the University of Nottingham, has been pledged to the first phase of a zero carbon innovation centre. This will be led by the University of Nottingham and based at its Jubilee Campus and Loughborough.

The centre will consolidate the East Midlands’ position as a world leader in the development and deployment of innovation in green industries, attracting international investment and providing support for global businesses.

The first phase of the project, anticipated to commence in Spring 2024, is part of longer-term plans to develop an innovation ecosystem that enables the East Midlands to build on its industrial heritage and help deliver advanced technologies and manufacturing to reach net zero. It will see construction begin for a green hydrogen production, testing and training facility at Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP) where a new battery-electrolyser will be installed, with plans to couple this to a solar PV array to generate Green Hydrogen.

The battery-electrolyser facility, underpinned by novel Loughborough University intellectual property, is an important milestone in the development on LUSEP of The Hydrogen Works Innovation Facility which will provide flexible facilities for research, innovation, incubation and scale up activities, and adoption and testing of transformative hydrogen technology.

Professor Dan Parsons, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Loughborough University, said: “We are delighted that funding has been secured for the new centre, which will help ensure the East Midlands is at the forefront of net zero carbon innovation. We look forward to working with our colleagues at the University of Nottingham, and bringing our combined strengths together in renewable energy and hydrogen to help accelerate progress towards achieving net zero emissions.”

Professor Tom Rodden, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Nottingham, said: “With world-class facilities and research, this innovation centre will enable us to collaborate more closely with industry to accelerate the translation of zero carbon research into real-world solutions. This will not only help tackle the climate crisis but also deliver economic benefits to the East Midlands, as new businesses bring quality jobs to our region. The goal is for the East Midlands to become a global model for a flourishing zero carbon economy.”

Loughborough University and the University of Nottingham are the first of seven initial projects chosen to receive funding from East Midlands Freeport. As the UK’s only inland freeport, it has attracted £150m of investment, signed off more than five million pounds to fund these first projects, and created 200 brand-new skilled jobs.

Tom Newman-Taylor, Chief Executive at East Midlands Freeport, said: “Today marks a big milestone for East Midlands Freeport as we start to deliver on our objectives and invest in major projects, like the Innovation Centre, to boost skills and jobs across the region. It’s only nine months since we received Government approval but, with major investors building on our sites, the second £22m phase of Maritime UK’s and Segro’s rail freight terminal nearing completion and more interest in the pipeline, we’re building momentum.”

Professor Parsons continued: “Green hydrogen will be central to the solution for an accelerated net zero transition. We look forward to working with the University of Nottingham, the cluster of organisations based at LUSEP and many other partners to create a globally-leading green hydrogen ecosystem in the East Midlands.”

Find out more about Loughborough University’s hydrogen research and innovation capabilities online.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 23/179

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2023 QS World University Rankings – the seventh year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2024 and 10th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.