Cranfield University Digital Innovation Hub
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316, Conway House, Cranfield University, Cranfield, MK43 0AL, Bedford (United Kingdom)
Digital Innovation Services and Facilities
Cranfield University is host to a range of Digital Innovation Opportunities, supported through its Research and Innovation Office and several domain-specific digital innovation centres, including DARTeC (Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre, IVHM (Integrated Vehicle Health Management), IMEC (Intelligent Mobility Engineering Centre), AIRC (Aerospace Integration Research Centre), CUBIC/Cranfield Innovation and Technology Centre, Cranfield Eagle Labs, with over 100 members from Aerospace, Transport, & Manufacturing sectors. Furthermore it supports SMEs through its ERDF grants (Innovation in Manufacturing, Aerospace and Green Economy https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/business/develop-your-technology-and-products/image). It offers data engineering testbeds supported by a range of state of the art digital design, modelling and simulation tools, IoT-enabled physical testbeds, as well as latest Augmented Reality and visualisation technologies, and a recently launched digital control centre, making it the first Digital Ait Traffic Control Tower in the UK. It includes High Performance Computing platforms, namely ‘Astral’ and ‘Delta’, with the latter distributed computing system offering 18 Tflops across its 1280 cores, equipped with 2.4GHz memory, 4x NVidia K80 GPUs for accelerated compute capabilities, accessed via its PBS pro scheduler, and using EDR Infiniband networking (100Gbps), 117TB of usable scratch storage, with applications software stored on separate redundant BeeGFS file store. Data-driven innovation is a key activity across a large spectrum of Cranfield University activities, benefiting direct industrial members of its centres, associate members, clients, and partners of the above.
Digital Innovation Hub Centres
DARTeC: The 67m£ Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre with strong funding from industry (Thales, SAAB, Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited, Aveillant) and a strong focus on connected systems) presents new opportunities for Digital Twin technologies across the spectrum of activities supporting the Digital Aviation technologies of the future.
Integrated Vehicle Health Management Centre (IVHM), with members/clients such as Boeing, BAE Systems, THALES and Meggitt involved in cutting edge development and innovation on data-driven vehicle health management services, strongly linked to Digital Twins.
IMEC: The Intelligent Mobility Centre together with the MUEAVI (Multi User Environment for Autonomous Vehicle Innovation) offer a strong innovation environment to boost the impact of Digital Twin technologies on connected and autonomous vehicles.
AIRC: The Aerospace Integration Research Centre jointly funded by Rolls Royce and Airbus is a central hub for Aerospace Research and Innovation, including facilities with visualisation screens, flight simulators, air traffic management simulator, drawing also also capabilities of the on-site Cranfield airport, National Flying Laboratory Centre, large scale gas turbine test area, would offer opportunities for Digital Twin technologies.
Cranfield Innovation Centre, Technology Park (hosting among other the Nissan Technical Centre), and Cranfield University Business Incubation Centre (CUBIC), Cranfield Eagle Labs for avaiation technology supported by Barclays, along with IMAGE initiative (Innovation in Manufacturing, Aerospace and Green Economy) offer thriving Innovation Hub opportunities, which alongside Cranfield’s links with National Innovation Hubs (Digital Catapult, Transport Catapult, and High Value Manufacturing Catapult) in various contexts will offer interfacing and innovation diffusion opportunities.
Cranfield University Context
Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.
We are focused on the specialist themes of aerospace, defence and security, energy and power, environment and agrifood, manufacturing, transport systems, and water. Cranfield School of Management is world leader in management education and research.
We are home to many world-class, large-scale facilities which enhance our teaching and research. We are the only university in Europe to own and run an airport and to have airline status.
Cranfield teaches over 4,500 postgraduate students each year and employs 1,500 academic and support staff. We have the largest number of engineering master’s students in the UK. Our staff-to-student ratio is one of the best for any university in the UK (one member of academic staff to every seven students).
We work closely with business, industry and government across the world. Through our industry partnerships, applied research projects and our executive education and professional development programmes, we currently work with over 1,500 companies and organisations.
We are ranked number one in the UK for research income from industry per academic, with 81% of our research classed as world-leading or internationally excellent by REF (Research Excellence Framework, 2014).
We formed in 1946 as the College of Aeronautics, the first postgraduate college of its kind. The School of Management was founded in 1967.
Link to national or regional initiatives for digitising industry
Cranfield University activities are fully aligned with UK industrial strategy for digitisation and are supportive of EU digital single market initiatives. Specifically Cranfield University and its innovation centres are directly addressing the UK’s Digital Strategy for industry in the areas of Digital Infrastructure Connectivity, Development of Digital Skills, Business Digital Transformation, Cyber - Secure, Safe, and Resilient workplaces and business environments, and unlocking the potential of Data-Driven innovation in the Economy, which are all also directly relevant to the EU’s digital single market.
Offered services are directly aligned with UKZ RIS3 priorities:
Professional business services
Oil and Gas
04 - Transport, telecommunication and other infrastructures
05 - Energy
06 - Industrial production and technology
08 - Agriculture
H - Service innovation, H.51 - New or improved organisational models, H.52 - New or improved service processes, H.53 - New or improved service products (commodities or public services)
D - Digital transformation, D.24 - Digitising Industry (Industry 4.0, smart and additive manufactruing), D.25 - E-Commerce & SMEs online, D.26 - e-Government (e.g. e-Procurement, open data & sharing of public sector information), D.27 - e-Health (e.g. healthy ageing), D.28 - e-Inclusion (e.g. e-Skills, e-Learning), D.29 - ICT trust, cyber security & network security, D.33 - New media & easier access to cultural contents (e.g. heritage)
B - Blue growth, B.13 - Offshore mining, oil & gas
J - Sustainable innovation, J.68 - Sustainable energy & renewables
A - Aeronautics & space, A.01 - Aeronautics, A.02 - Aeronautics & environment, A.03 - Bio fuels & energy efficiency, A.04 - Remotely piloted aircrafts, A.05 - Safety & security, A.06 - Space, A.07 - Transport & logistics
J - Sustainable innovation, J.66 - Smart green & integrated transport systems
J - Sustainable innovation, J.67 - Sustainable agriculture
Examples of relevant H2020 projects:
PROTEUS - Development of simulation methods and tools to predict the idle and sub-idle behaviour of future very large high bypass ratio geared civil turbofan engines
FRIENDS2 - Framework for Innovation for Engineering of New Durable Solar Surfaces
I3DS - Integrated 3D sensors suite
Future Sky Safety - WP 3.3 (Lead project code)
pPHEV - Predictive energy management in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
SHERLOCK - Seamless and safe human-centred robotic applications for novel collaborative workplaces
Market and Services
- Agriculture, hunting and forestry
- Mining and quarrying
- Electricity, gas and water supply
- Wholesale and retail trade
- Transport, storage and communication
- Financial intermediation
- Public administration and defence
- TRL1 - Basic principles observed and reported
- TRL2 - Technology concept and/or application formulated
- TRL3 - Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept
- TRL4 - Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment
- TRL5 - Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment
- TRL6 - System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment
- TRL7 - System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- Awareness creation
- Ecosystem building, scouting, brokerage, networking
- Visioning and Strategy Development for Businesses
- Collaborative Researchs
- Concept validation and prototyping
- Testing and validation
- Digital Maturity Assessment
- Incubator/accelerator support
- Access to Funding and Investor Readiness Services
- Education and skills development
The IMAGE programme, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, is offering funding opportunities for SME businesses to work with universities and tap into their leading expertise.
IMAGE can help your business through funded opportunities in a number of ways:
- Research and development
- Bespoke training
- Specialised events and workshops
Cranfield University in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, can support you in conducting a range of activities - from prototyping, development and testing of your product through to management coaching, finding business solutions and networking solutions.
Example of Cranfield Digital Innovatio hub supporting SME to innovate products with IoT enabled data analytics:
Keep it Sold Ltd helps its clients reduce unnecessary returns using an app installed on products and connected via the Internet of Things to data storage in the Cloud.
- The diagnostic data captured from the app provides transactional data to our customers’ returns process and allows analysis of usage and faults for input into future product design and service supply chain
- Keep it Sold can provide a diagnostics app for white and high value brown goods and our technology has the potential to assist the after-sales process for any connected device
- The R&D project funded through IMAGE enabled Keep it Sold to work closely with Cranfield on the analysis of available technologies in IoT, data analytics and similar areas with a view to evaluating the maturity of these areas and building an understanding of future developments.
Cranfield supported Plextek Services Ltd in developing their Digital Innovation Services Strategy.
This activity was offered as part of the IMAGE ERDF programme for supporting SME business innovation. Specifically, Cranfield University assisted Plextek Services Ltd to develop a new Manufacturing Digital Innovation Service Strategy, by analysing the strategic priorities for UK Manufacturing, taking into account the Current National Industrial Strategy, the composition of value added by UK manufacturing, the current trends in Global Manufacturing Value Chains, as well as Industry 4.0 opportunities for product and service innovation. By linking Industry 4.0 to specific manufacturing sectors, a concrete analysis of implications regarding the transformative effect of Industry 4.0 digital transformation on the requirements for future manufacturing jobs was produced. This involves core and projected future manufacturing, as well as digital skills and competences. The offered digital innovation service enabled Plextek to assess their current baseline and future requirements in order to develop an effective Innovation Support Service Strategy aimed at UK Manufacturing companies in their digital transformation journey.More details: https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/business/develop-your-technology-and-products/image
At CUBIC we offer knowledge-based businesses the opportunity to establish and grow in a science and technology environment. Businesses based within CUBIC span a range of industry sectors and openly share their knowledge and experience with one another creating an inclusive environment.
Digitwell Solutions specialise in providing tools to help businesses gain the maximum value from your customer through the use of mobile applications.
Cranfield Eagle Labs
Innovation centre for ‘AvTech’ opened in January 2019, with advice and mentoring for SMEs to accelerate their business and access to world-class experts and facilities in the aviation space.
- ‘AvTech’ Eagle Lab at Cranfield University provides a co-working space for ambitious entrepreneurs to scale and grow, drawing on the University’s aerospace heritage stretching over 70 years
- The Lab, located at the heart of the University campus features facilities to support rapid prototyping, product development and specialised AvTech equipment
- The announcement marks the first step in the University’s broader initiative to support start-ups and SMEs in the aviation industry, and follows from the Barclays launch earlier this year of a new £370m investment fund for small businesses in the Midlands
One of the first companies in the Eagle Lab is Herotech8
https://www.commonwealthfirst.org/exportchampions/profiles/herotech8/ which started out in CUBIC. HEROTECH8 creates wide-scale support infrastructure for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to automate monitoring operations, recharging & the loading or delivery of payloads.
Real time collaboration using gaming technology for JLR
We have prototyped a platform that enables remote, real-time collaboration between geographically separated teams.
We made unique use of low-cost gaming depth imaging sensors and virtual environments to develop the platform.
The platform enables just in time contextual information to be provided to engineers as well as the sharing of task contexts, knowledge, skills and transfer of expert services.
We validated our approach using an automotive use case.
This enabled our partner Jaguar Land Rover to have a platform that would enable engineers to view and solve problems in a different part of the world without having to fly staff members to the location.
Flexible Approaches for Low Carbon Optimised Network for Energy providers
The four-year Project FALCON (Flexible Approaches for Low Carbon Optimised Networks) saw us partner with CGI, Alstom, Cisco and Aston University, while Milton Keynes Council and ELEXON were also supporters. We undertook the work for Western Power Distribution (the electricity distribution network operator for the Midlands, South Wales and the South West in the UK).
We trialled a series of new techniques in addition to developing a new tool for modelling the electricity distribution network with the aim of simplifying and increasing flexibility in energy network management.
The project delivered:
Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre
Launching DARTeC’s five research priorities at the Farnborough International Show, Professor Graham Braithwaite, Project Lead and Director of Transport Systems at Cranfield University, said: “Aviation is a key sector for the UK economy contributing £52 billion to UK GDP but the sector’s present rate of growth is simply not sustainable.
“We need new digital solutions to tackle the challenges of over-capacity in both airports and airspace, we need to create passenger experiences more fitting of the 21st century and we need to create more sustainable air travel. Working with our partners, DARTeC will greatly advance the application of innovative technologies within the air transport sector and will unlock the potential of digital aviation.”
Addressing the digital aviation challenge, DARTeC’s five primary research areas will be:
- Connected systems – developing digital systems that will operate at speeds that the current Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) and the Aircraft Condition Monitoring System (ACMS) are not capable of producing.
- Unmanned traffic management – developing airspace management solutions that will bring higher levels of system resilience, safety and security while adapting to competition from UAVs to operate in the same airspace.
- Seamless passenger experience – developing a more personalised, intuitive and less stressful passenger experience by using digital integrated technology to examine challenges such as unified security, the elimination of triple waiting areas, optimised passenger flows and baggage separation.
- Distributed airport and airspace management - developing the next generation of air traffic control in an environment of steadily increasing air traffic density and ‘on-demand’ requests.
- Conscious aircraft – developing technology and systems that would allow aircraft to monitor its current health, allowing it to reliably predict the useful life of components and systems, while automatically adapting to optimise their remaining life
More details: https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/centres/digital-aviation-research-and-technology-centre
Health Monitoring System for Airbus helicopter gearboxes
Intelligent Gearbox for Endurance Advanced Rotorcraft (iGear) is developing a multi-sensor health monitoring system for the lateral gearboxes of the Airbus Racer helicopter, providing real time information for maintenance actions. The project is part of
Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, partnering with Active Space Technologies and Avio Aero.
More details: https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/research-projects/igear
(part of) Public organization (part of RTO, or university)
Number of employees
- European Regional Development Fund
- National basic research funding
- National specific innovation funding
- Regional funding
- Private funding
- Partner resources
- Horizon 2020
Number of customers annually
Type of customers
- Start-up companies
- SMEs (<250 employees)
- MidCaps (between €2-10 billion turnover)
- Large companies, multi-nationals
- Research organisations
University of Birmingham
University of Leicester
University of Nottingham
University of Warwick
- Micro and nano electronics, smart system integration
- Sensors, actuators, MEMS, NEMS, RF
- Photonics, electronic and optical functional materials
- Cyber physical systems (e.g. embedded systems)
- Robotics and autonomous systems
- Internet of Things (e.g. connected devices, sensors and actuators networks)
- Artificial Intelligence and cognitive systems
- Location based technologies (e.g. GPS, GIS, in-house localization)
- Interaction technologies (e.g. human-machine Interaction, motion recognition and language technologies)
- Cyber security (including biometrics)
- Advanced or High performance computing
- Data mining, big data, database management
- Augmented and virtual reality, visualization
- Simulation and modelling
- Software as a service and service architectures
- Cloud computing
- Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
- Laser based manufacturing
- Organic and Large Area Electronics (OLAE)
- ICT management, logistics and business systems
- Internet services (e.g. web development, web production, design, networking, and e-commerce)