New Institute of Technology could lead the UK’s digital and green revolution

Pioneering graduates from a new East Midlands Institute of Technology (IoT) would lead the UK’s green and digital revolution and form the beating heart of the country’s post-pandemic recovery.

Loughborough University, the University of Derby, Loughborough College and the Derby College Group (DCG) have joined forces on a £13m plan to create the highly advanced workforce needed to lead the digital revolution – otherwise known as Industry 4.0.

The East Midlands IoT would focus on levelling up the critical engineering, manufacturing and digital skills needed by employers to address the grand engineering challenges of clean growth by embracing the advanced skills required for AI and a data-driven economy.

Graduates will be part of a net zero carbon workforce and support the UK’s journey to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Based in the heart of the East Midlands, the IoT would:

  • Support students by specialising in programmes such as Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies; Information and Communication Technology; Science and Mathematics and Construction, Planning and the built environment;
  • Work closely with global powerhouse employers, including Rolls-Royce, Toyota, National Grid ESO, Alstom, Fujitsu, Uniper and Bloc Digital, to ensure programmes level up the workforce with the right skills
  • Create an exciting new IoT centre in Loughborough, with students able to access all four sites, including world class training environments in Derby at the University of Derby’s Enterprise Centre and DCG’s Roundhouse technical and professional skills college.

The East Midlands IoT has been selected by the Government to enter the final round of applications to become one of eight new UK IoTs.

Professor Rachel Thomson FREng, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching at Loughborough University, said: “We are really excited to be working with our partners - Loughborough College, University of Derby and Derby College Group - and key employers in Leicestershire and Derbyshire to create an outstanding Institute of Technology which will deliver much-needed digital and engineering skills to support industry and business across the region. Importantly, the IoT will provide access to the right training and skills development at the point of need to support our local community to have fulfilling careers throughout their working life.”

Jo Maher, Principal and CEO at Loughborough College, said: “Reaching the final stage reflects Loughborough College’s proven track record of delivering pioneering STEM programmes which prepare students with the skills for working successfully in Industry 4.0.

“We are so proud to collaborate with such exceptional partners and anchor employers on creating a pathway which will genuinely help accelerate the UK’s journey to net zero carbon economy and provide incredible training and employment opportunities throughout the region.”

Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for our region, and we are delighted to be working with further and higher education partners from Derby and Loughborough and with industry to bring vast expertise and experience to this initiative.

“As an applied university, offering placements and apprenticeships in the engineering and technology sector, we understand the importance of ensuring graduates are ready to meet the region’s skills needs.

“Our strong industry links and TEF Gold-standard teaching, combined with our specialisms in areas such as data science, advanced manufacturing, architectural technology and low carbon business support, make us very well equipped to help deliver the Institute for Derbyshire and Leicestershire.”

Mandie Stravino, CEO of Derby College Group (DCG), added: “DCG has a proven track record in working with employers to co-design and co-deliver our curriculum which will be a crucial element in the development of the IoT. 

“By working together, we will be able to provide a clear progression for workforce and employers to access the higher level skills they need to remain competitive in their global markets and offer an accessible route into high wage and high skilled employment both for young people entering the world of work and adults looking to up-skill.”

The IoT would work in close partnership with its roster of anchor employers to develop the right skills and programmes, from T-Levels through to postgraduate degrees, required for those industries.

Mark Jefferies, Chief of University Research Liaison at Rolls-Royce, said: “Rolls-Royce creates amazing products and services to meet the world’s vital power needs. We’re one of the few global companies best-positioned to shape the future of power and reduce its carbon impact, and it’s our people who make us who we are today. I am delighted to support this exciting new initiative which promises to deliver enhanced skills and support an increasingly diverse range of talent for the region.”

Kayte O’Neill, Head of Markets at National Grid ESO, said: “Our mission is to be able to operate a zero carbon electricity system by 2025 and if we are to succeed, we need to attract and train the brightest and best people. We are thrilled to participate in this innovative initiative that will create a talent pipeline of net zero experts.”

Will Tanner, Communications Director, Alstom UK & Ireland, said: “As the UK’s leading provider of sustainable mobility solutions, and with our strong presence and heritage in the East Midlands, we are delighted to support the East Midlands IoT initiative. We very much look forward to working with the East Midlands IoT as it develops and feeds into the process of selecting the rights skills and programmes for the green careers of the future.”

Keith Cox, Director of the Derby-based innovation and immersive technology company Bloc Digital, said: “The opportunities the East Midlands IoT presents to young people to gain industry-informed qualifications in areas of digitisation and decarbonisation are critical to the long-term success of companies in our region. The power of immersive, digital solutions will allow manufacturing industries in our region to continue to innovate and remain globally competitive.  We are delighted to be part of the East Midlands IoT bid.”

Tim Freeman, Deputy Managing Director of Derbyshire-based Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Limited, said: “We are delighted to be a core signatory of the East Midlands Institute of Technology bid. A key part of our mid-term plan is to ensure we have the right skills for our workforce of the future, that we continue to decarbonise our processes and we capitalise on innovative solutions to advance our technologies.  We see the skills, qualifications, research and innovation delivered through the East Midlands IoT as an excellent opportunity to achieve these strategic priorities.” 

Nick Booth, Head of Uniper Engineering Academy, said: “Uniper is pleased to support the East Midlands IoT bid as we recognise that partnerships between industrial training providers, such as Uniper’s Engineering Academy, and the region’s universities and colleges, are essential to deliver the green skills needed to achieve net zero.”

Ash Merchant, Education and Healthcare Director at Fujitsu UK & Ireland, said: “Fujitsu is delighted to be supporting the East Midlands Institute of Technology Bid. As an anchor employer partner, Fujitsu is committed to co-creating the vision of a strong digital infrastructure, with outstanding curriculum that will ensure the growth of the data-driven digital economy for the East Midlands and beyond. We look forward to working in close partnership with the East Midlands IoT and the employer partner network to develop the right skills and programmes that will enable individuals to be fit for the digital economy.”

Loughborough MP Jane Hunt said the East Midlands IoT would help deliver the green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. She added: “Loughborough College already has a strong track record of delivering high-quality teaching of STEM subjects and Loughborough University are world leaders in technological research. Both the College and University teamed with Derby College and the University of Derby to present a winning combination, perfectly placed to deliver an Institute of Technology that will deliver the skills that are needed by employers in our region.”

Pauline Latham OBE, MP for Mid Derbyshire, said: “I strongly support this proposal to establish an East Midlands Institute of Technology. Skills and Innovation are both key elements of the Government’s Build Back Better Plan for Growth and this high-quality partnership provides an excellent opportunity for the region to drive up the supply of higher technical skills in the current and future workforce. Access to such a talent pipeline will not only be crucial to driving up regional productivity, but also the retention in our region of such significant employers that serve global markets.”

The successful applicants will be revealed later this year.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 21/108

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 2021 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. 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.