£11m was allocated using a formulaic approach, and a further £400m through a bidding competition, with a maximum amount per provider of £5.8m. Key assessment criteria were demonstrating value for money, effective project management and environmental sustainability. The main aims of the funding allocation were to support laboratory-based subjects in STEM disciplines and to enhance graduate employability and the skills needs of employers and industry.
The Loughborough University bid was entitled DIGILabs – facilities to support future-fit science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) graduates. The new shared suite of DIGILabs will ensure that graduates are future-fit for the world of work in which digital skills, data analytics, virtual and augmented reality play a key part, and can reap the positive benefits of artificial intelligence and machine learning to support future technologies. Based in refurbished existing spaces, and complete with the highest quality technical equipment, the four DIGILabs (Extended Reality Learning, 3D data capture and visualisation, Robotics, and Simulation, Modelling and Artificial Intelligence) will be supported by DIGIHubs, which will provide an integration space to support learning and proactively bring the DIGILabs to life.
The University is providing an additional financial contribution so that we can ensure that the facilities can be used by all of our students.
Professor Rachel Thomson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience who led the bid commented: “I’m thrilled that we have secured the full amount of this funding (£5.8M) for the University. These new DIGILabs will be transformative for our teaching over the next few years and will build on our digital strategy for learning and teaching to ensure that our graduates are familiar with the latest technologies and can be inspired by new ways of learning and working.
“I am very grateful to James Henry, Director of Finance, James Strong and Ivan Annibal who supported the bid writing, and all the colleagues in our Schools and Professional Services who put forward ideas and excellent rationales for next-generation technologies that we have been able to include.
“We aim to create three DIGIHubs across our East Midlands campus so that all students and staff will be able to benefit from the shared, multidisciplinary facilities and new technologies. We are in the process of setting up groups of ‘champions/early adopters’ so if you would like to get involved, please do get in touch."