Representatives of the Loughborough University and adidas partnership with Professor Andy Harland, Director of Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute, and Dr Tim Lucas, adidas Vice President of Engineering and Technology, centre.

Loughborough University’s cutting-edge sports research with adidas wins best UK industry-academia partnership

Loughborough University’s twenty-year partnership with global sports brand adidas was announced the winner of the 2023 Royal Academy of Engineering Bhattacharyya Award in recognition of their stellar academia–industry collaboration.

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.

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

For the first time in the Bhattacharyya Award’s history, joint winners were declared with the University of Manchester and for its twenty-year partnership with the nuclear decommissioning sector, providing expertise for quicker, safer nuclear decommissioning.

The Bhattacharyya Awards were presented yesterday evening by Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, with each industry-academia partnership receiving a £25,000 prize to further extend the impacts of their work.

Funded by the UK’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the annual Bhattacharyya Award is awarded to a UK university or college that has demonstrated a sustained, strategic industrial partnership in any academic discipline that has benefitted society and is deserving of national recognition. The Award was set up in tribute to the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya KT CBE FREng FRS, Regius Professor of Manufacturing at the University of Warwick, and founder of WMG.

Collecting the award with Dr Tim Lucas, adidas Vice President of Engineering and Technology, Professor Andy Harland, Director of Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute, said: “Lord Bhattacharyya was a pioneer in his field, and it was fitting for us that Professor Roy Jones – the world’s first Professor in Sports Technology – was with us to collect this award. Roy pioneered the discipline of sports engineering at Loughborough and his values and principles still guide our group today. It was his vision, together with that of Dr Tim Lucas in adidas Innovation that started our journey that has shaped the lives of so many colleagues and researchers over two decades. Tim and his team have been critical in translating Loughborough research to influence so many iconic sporting products and given international reach to our impact. 

"This award is for everyone who has played a part, from academic colleagues, to students, researchers, technical and admin staff as well as all our partners within adidas who have made the last twenty years so fulfilling and enjoyable. We look forward to building on this award to extend our partnership and influence more lives through great engineering research.”

Loughborough University was shortlisted for the 2019 Bhattacharyya Award 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 by the Royal Academy of Engineering as the UK’s most exceptional industry–academia partnership together with the University of Manchester and the nuclear decommissioning sector.

“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.”

Full details of the 2023 Bhattacharyya Award winners and four finalists are available on the Royal Academy of Engineering website.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 23/162

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.