University of Sheffield to be Siemens’ top tier innovation partner

12 July 2022

Global technology giant Siemens has announced that the University of Sheffield has been included in its top tier of innovation partners, as part of its new global research and innovation ecosystems. 

The new Research and Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) have seen Siemens evolve its strategic engagement programme with universities to include, for the first time, seven UK universities in its top tier of innovation partnerships. These include the Universities of Sheffield, Birmingham, Newcastle University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of Manchester and University of Nottingham.

Both the University of Sheffield and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), which is part of the university, has a longstanding relationship with Siemens, which has seen it partner with the company on a range of projects to develop pioneering solutions for some of the biggest challenges facing the UK and the rest of the world. 

Steve Foxley, who spent more than 20 years with Siemens before taking up the post as AMRC CEO in 2020, said: “Siemens plays an important role in contributing to our mission to provide sustainable manufacturing technologies and enabling the delivery of sustainable products to our industrial partners - and with the University becoming a top-tier partner, this will only help to strengthen such opportunities.

“This announcement not only reaffirms the strong working relationship between the University, the AMRC and Siemens, but acts as a driver to push ahead with both our innovation and sustainability focus as we strive to continue making an impact on a world stage."

Siemens is a Tier 1 member of the AMRC and gives the company the space, the people, the skills and the time to innovate. Through its membership, Siemens donates the company’s advanced digital technologies, which the AMRC’s world leading engineers use to help Siemens and other manufacturers to innovate in a low-risk environment. 

The AMRC has been working with Siemens for almost 15 years and driven innovation in key areas of manufacturing such as, machining, discrete event simulation, manufacturing planning, augmented reality and the Internet of Things (IoT). The partnership is helping Siemens and other businesses plan future manufacturing facilities.

Professor Alan Norbury, Chief Technologist at Siemens UK and Ireland, said: “The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) should be very proud of the major part it played in achieving this recognition.

“The AMRC is one of a few globally elite innovation centres to receive direct funding for projects by Siemens, something myself and many others across Siemens Great Britain and Ireland have worked towards for many years. As I have said many times, the AMRC's greatest asset is its people; they continue to be so supportive, engaging and passionate in everything they do.” 

Made up of 16 regions around the world, two of which are in the UK, each RIE includes universities, Siemens companies, research institutes, catapult centres, innovation start-ups, creative individuals, business partners and customers, all collaborating to create, scale, and deliver ground-breaking technologies and services to market in the shortest possible time and with maximum impact.

Commenting on the announcement, Carl Ennis, CEO of Siemens UK, said: “This is an important recognition by our global business that UK universities have a lot to offer in innovation, ingenuity and creativity. These universities have demonstrated that they are more than capable of leading and participating in collaborative projects locally and globally.”

The seven UK universities have been selected because they share Siemens’ core interests in digital industries, smart infrastructure, eMobility, and core technologies, and they have been assessed as being in the top 10 leading global institutions for one or more of the fields of interest to Siemens for collaboration. Sheffield’s research remit in the new ecosystems will be around the future of manufacturing. 

The relationship between Siemens and the University of Sheffield has had an impact on how Sheffield teaches its engineering students, forming part of the University’s world class engineering education, which is producing highly skilled engineering graduates to help close the skills gap in business and industries throughout the South Yorkshire region, the North of England and the rest of the UK. The AMRC also has its own training centre, which teaches apprentices the vital skills and education needed in manufacturing and engineering for them to go straight into industry. 

Since 2009, researchers from the University’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering have been collaborating with Siemens Gamesa to develop reliable, innovative and efficient wind turbine generators. As the UK works to reach net zero, the wind turbine generators being pioneered through the partnership will be at the forefront of wind power systems.

Siemens also collaborated with researchers from the University’s Department of Civil and Structural Engineering and Yorkshire Water to develop game-changing artificial intelligence that can predict blockages in sewers. The blockage predictor tool can help to prevent sewers from backing up during heavy rainfall, which could flood homes, gardens and rivers with wastewater. Yorkshire Water is rolling out the new AI to its network of more than 2,000 combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in a bid to reduce pollution risks in the region.

In addition, the University of Sheffield is a member of Siemens’ Connected Curriculum initiative - a teaching programme in which students benefit from industrial experience and develop crucial digital skills needed by industry. The initiative brings academia and industry together by integrating Siemens' Industry 4.0 technology into Sheffield’s curriculum. It supports academic staff to tailor the company’s industrial hardware, software, and learning materials to help students develop Industry 4.0 skills as part of their degree. 

The University’s Careers Service has worked with Siemens to build a joint recruitment strategy, designed to include initiatives that raise the profile of the company and the career options available on-campus, while providing opportunities for Siemens representatives to engage with and get to know students at Sheffield. 

Siemens has worked with the University to unearth the next generation of engineering, technology and business talent through a virtual competition, which challenged students to design a smart, sustainable and interconnected transport system. The winning team won interviews for internship and graduate roles at Siemens’ Mobility, Smart Infrastructure and Digital Industries businesses.

Professor Jim Litster, Vice-President for Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: "For the University of Sheffield, the Siemens partnership provides a great opportunity to connect with real manufacturing operations where our academic work can make a real difference. Our partnership is deep and well established, and this news demonstrates the University of Sheffield's commitment to collaborate closely to advance global research and innovation. 

“We have one of the largest cohorts of engineering students in the UK with over 6,700 students and through this partnership with Siemens our students have been able to put what they learn in the lecture theatre into practice. Our strategic graduate recruitment plan has set a precedent for how Siemens works with its other university partners, and as a result, we've grown to be one of the largest suppliers of highly skilled engineering graduates to Siemens in the UK."

For more information about the University of Sheffield’s partnerships with Siemens, visit: 

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