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Winter 2017

The Head of School's Preface to the Annual Plan

As I explained last year, the School prepares a strategic plan each autumn, drawing on the departments and guided by the University planning office.  This year, we are facing a number of key issues relating to the development of the School estate.  I therefore used the plan preface to highlight the academic importance of the challenges involved.

 


1. A great opportunity for The Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), and for the School as a whole.

We have long wished to find a way to enable CISL to connect its work and integrate its considerable network more effectively across the University.  While significant progress has been made, it has always been limited by a lack of space to enable its growth and build for collaborative activity.

The opportunity for CISL to occupy the whole of the building at 1 Regent Street will allow them to significantly expand their current work, and in addition will enable them to channel philanthropic and industrial resources into sustainability-related research across the University and attract companies to engage with this research.  This will include:  

  • 12 research fellows funded to work on issues relating to sustainability and linked to departments across the University;
  • 40 corporate fellows that collaborate on sustainability projects and pay to co-locate with the Institute;
  • Up to 50 SME representatives supported by the local enterprise partnership with European structural investment funds;
  • Co-location opportunities for related initiatives such as the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence.

These new initiatives, made possible by the additional space, will also provide an efficient pathway to impact for many research groups and students, and a rich source of case-studies to enhance the educational work of the Institute.

All this will be achieved in a way that more than covers its costs.  In addition to currently agreed taxation arrangements, 25% of all the income from those who pay to share collaborative space will be paid to the Chest.  A further 25% of this income will be used to appoint a facilitator who will maximise the value of the co-located fellows and companies to the wider University research community. 

The development of new paradigms for structuring departments and engaging efficiently with industry, financial institutions and governments is central to the strategy for the future of the School of Technology. This is a unique opportunity to build on the current strengths of the Institute for Sustainability Leadership in a way that is perfectly aligned with and enhances the mission of the University and will deliver significant benefits to research, teaching, impact and the generation of income.

 

2.  The academic need for a central high-quality hotel where we can make large advance bookings.

The School of Technology has a particularly strong emphasis on outward-looking engagement.  We are by no means the only part of the university to do this, but it is noticeable that a high proportion of the education and research in the School is strongly linked to industry, commerce, governments and non-governmental organisations across the world.  Our engagement is often highly structured, involving groups of people.  We travel to meet these groups wherever appropriate, but we also regularly need a way to enable them to come to Cambridge.  For this we require a high-quality hotel where we can influence the booking process to ensure accommodation for groups of distinguished visitors.  This will be commercially viable because we will guarantee a certain volume of trade in return for the right to block-book well in advance.

This is not just an issue for the Judge Business School who would definitely need 5,000 room-nights per year; the Department of Engineering expects to need at least 500 room-nights per year, the Institute for Sustainability Leadership needs approximately 1,000 room-nights per year, and the other departments in the School may require an additional number. This combined demand would occupy about a third of a good-sized hotel with academic activity alone.

 

3.  Vision for a unique partnership in EECS.

Unlike some other universities, we do not have a department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).  But we will shortly have a collaborative focus in this field that is much more powerful than any single department.  Once an appropriate new home can be found for the University Information Services, we hope to locate the Information Engineers in the Roger Needham Building.  This is right next to the Department of Computer Science & Technology on one side, and all the Electrical Engineers on the other.

 There is already significant collaboration among these world-leading research groups.  Co-location will enable us to develop the scale and agility of this joint research.  We will draw on the diverse strengths of each entity: spin outs, European funding, industrial consortia, and DARPA experience to create a collaborative whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.  We already have ideas for exciting joint initiatives and facilities in the field of cyber-physical systems.  This is a great opportunity for us to capitalise on existing strengths in a uniquely Cambridge way.

 

Richard Prager
Head of School