Department of Engineering / News / Backing Britain: The James Dyson Foundation donates £8m to University of Cambridge to fuel invention powerhouse.

Department of Engineering

Backing Britain: The James Dyson Foundation donates £8m to University of Cambridge to fuel invention powerhouse.

Backing Britain: The James Dyson Foundation donates £8m to University of Cambridge to fuel invention powerhouse.

James Dyson with a student during a visit to the Department of Engineering

The James Dyson Foundation has donated £8m to create a technology hub at the heart of Cambridge, providing the University of Cambridge’s brightest engineers with some of the world’s most advanced engineering laboratories. The donation is the largest gift ever received to Cambridge’s engineering faculty, which has long been the most successful in Europe.

I’m hopeful that this new space for Britain’s best engineers at the University of Cambridge will catalyse great technological breakthroughs that transform how we live

James Dyson

The donation expands the existing work of the Foundation which now supports design, technology and engineering from primary school through to start-up businesses, having donated £35m to these causes. The building will provide space to a number of Cambridge postgraduate scholars whose research is supported by the Foundation.

Due to open in 2015, the Dyson Engineering Design Centre will become the focal point in teaching Cambridge students about the design process, providing specialised printing machinery, scanners, lasers and routers. The building will provide the space for over 1,200 engineers to conduct their research. An open plan design featuring dozens of incubator units will encourage the sharing of ideas and a collaborative research environment. Student led projects housed within the building include solar powered electric racing cars, vehicles engineered for arctic ice, quad-rotor drones and helium balloon spaceflight systems.

A separate new four storey building, the James Dyson Building for Engineering, will house postgraduates and support world leading research in areas including advanced materials, smart infrastructure, electric vehicles, and efficient internal combustion systems for cars. Bridge links across buildings will allow easy access to testing laboratories housing world-class fluid dynamics machinery, aerodynamics equipment and areas for aeroacoustics analysis.  Specialist knowledge on research strategies and funding advice will be available on-site, supported by Philip Guildford Director of Research at the Department of Engineering.

Research undertaken in the hub will build on a rich tradition of invention: it was at Cambridge that Harry Riccardo pioneered the internal combustion engine and Frank Whittle revolutionised travel with his jet engine invention. The Department is located at the heart of the Cambridge cluster, which has created over 1,500 spin-out companies over the last decade. Technology we take for granted, including: Concorde ‘droop’ nose design, the microchips developed by ARM that now power 90% of the world’s mobile phones and the pregnancy test.

James Dyson said: “Developing the intellectual property that will help Britain succeed in the global technology race depends on applying our brightest minds to ambitious and exciting research projects. I’m hopeful that this new space for Britain’s best engineers at the University of Cambridge will catalyse great technological breakthroughs that transform how we live”.

Dame Ann Dowling, Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge said: “Academic rigour must meet with practical invention. The Dyson Engineering Design Centre and the James Dyson Building for Engineering bridge the gap, encouraging engineers to apply their minds to creatively experiment and try new things.”