University of Exeter
The University of Exeter is globally recognised as one of the top universities in terms of both quality of teaching and impact of research. Key to such successes are the two Cornwall campuses: the Penryn Campus, which is unique in the country for its joint use of space with the highly respected Falmouth University, and the Truro Campus.
The university employs over 600 staff who engage in world-leading research and educate over 2,300 students – some of the country’s most satisfied, according to the National Student Survey. Cornwall’s beautiful landscape provides a perfect ‘living laboratory’ for students and staff from all disciplines.
It has developed an international reputation as the pre-eminent research institute in Cornwall by collaborating with local stakeholders to undertake cutting-edge research addressing scientific, medical, and social concerns.
Together with its campus partners, the university has contributed more than half a billion pounds to the Cornish economy and helped create many high-skilled jobs—one of the the main reasons the local community enjoys the lowest unemployment rates and highest average wages in the Duchy.
The university is home to the UK’s five most influential climate scientists* and for more than twenty years have been leading the way in interdisciplinary research to better understand and tackle environment and climate change. By mobilising its expertise in research and education it is accelerating global action in partnership with governments, businesses and communities.
Almost one-third of the UK’s major environmental research organisations are based in the South West and the stunning natural surroundings and resources provide ample inspiration for the pioneering work. Since 2010, the University of Exeter along with its partners have directly supported over 1,000 businesses in environmental science and sustainability related sectors.
Beyond its research, the wide range of innovative and thought-provoking courses are teaching and inspiring thousands of students to become the next generation of leaders that will embrace the challenges that lie ahead. Exeter is also putting its research leadership in climate change at the heart of its own strategy. The University has created an innovative plan to cut emissions and improve the environment on its campuses and beyond; reducing emissions by 30% by 2025 (relative to 2018/19) – then 100% of scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 2050 at the latest. The plan – which earned Exeter the sustainability prize in the 2020 Guardian University Awards – relies on evidence, transparency and partnerships.
Here are a few of the university’s highly innovative research areas:
ExeterEnergy brings together over 140 individuals from across all disciplines at the University of Exeter to collectively make sense of and facilitate transformation to sustainable energy systems.
For over 20 years, the Exeter Energy group has been building capability and capacity in all areas of innovative and sustainable technologies, implementing both fundamental and applied research. Today, its expertise is at work in the real world. Closely aligned with industry needs, addressing real issues, overcoming challenges and driving the journey to net zero carbon emissions.
The university’s wider research team includes the UK’s top five most influential climate scientists – the only five to be included in the global top 21 – and this region is home to four times as many clean energy scientists than any other in the UK. The work of these experts and innovators, their experience and understanding, feeds into and informs the revolutionary work in renewable energy.
The research spans a wide array of renewable energy technologies including solar, offshore, geothermal and sustainably produced electricity as it strive to find and develop the solutions that can meet the world’s demand for clean energy.
Recognised by a rare award of a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2020, Exeter is one of the first research universities to demonstrate the ecological impact of changes to the marine environment on human and non-human animals. The findings have been pivotal in supporting policy change across the world, including in a UN resolution, and in a legal ban on microplastics in cosmetics in the UK in 2018.
The university is leading the way on investigating the effect 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic – around 10% of the plastics produced – has on marine life, the food chain and human health.
The university’s £30 million Circular Economy Hub is spearheading the transformation to a circular economy that enables and promotes effective reuse, repair and recycle strategies, investigates alternatives and counters the predicted rise in plastic use of 50% by 2030.
In the transition to a low carbon future, the University of Exeter is leading the way in harnessing the potential for Environmental Intelligence to inform and shape the interventions that are needed to make a positive impact on climate change.
Environmental Intelligence (EI) is the key to integrating environmental data and knowledge with Artificial Intelligence to provide the meaningful insight that informs decision-making, improved risk management, and the technological innovation that enables sustainable interaction with the natural environment.
Together with the UK Met Office, the university has set up the Joint Centre for Excellence in Environmental Intelligence.
Exeter’s Climate Impacts Mitigation, Adaption and Resilience (CLIMAR) framework, which will be featured at COP26, is using Data Science and AI to integrate multiple sources of data to quantify the risks of climate change on populations, infrastructure and the economy. By integrating models for climate related hazards with data for individual assets such as energy sources, roads and the vulnerable population, it is assessing exposure and vulnerability to those hazards. This knowledge and capability are vital to designing pathways to NetZero and enhancing the resilience to climate change across many sectors.
The university is working in partnership with Spaceport Cornwall, Virgin Orbit, Cornwall Council, the UK and European space agencies and the South West Satellite Applications Catapult to build Spaceport Cornwall, a multi-million investment that puts Cornwall at the centre of the growing UK space sector and into a £15 billion industry with opportunities in manufacturing, design, engineering and research.
By 2025, Spaceport Cornwall aims to create 150 jobs and add £200 million GVA to the economy.
It is also developing climate critical tools such as ENDGame, a critical component of the Met Office’s weather and climate prediction models, essential to refining and enhancing global and local weather forecasts and set to deliver around £1.5 billion in benefits to the UK economy.
The university is helping to tackle the most important environmental risk factor to global health: air pollution. The innovative work on DIMAQ, the Data Integration Model for Air Quality, is informing the work of the WHO, the UN and countries around the world, and is being used to track progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals that call for international action to reduce air pollution by 2030.
From the deepest oceans to the dusty plains, one thing connects all of earth’s habitats – the impact of human activity. The university’s researchers are working across a diverse range of ecosystems to understand how this impact is affecting life on earth, in all its forms, and what more can be done to protect the species around us.
This research is building our knowledge and understanding and helping to shape conservation and species management for the future. Working with industry to address the decline of pollinator populations and the threat to global food production, the university is creating the tools that are speeding safer pesticide development.
Humans are only one species and the planet is home to millions more. It is our responsibility to protect and preserve it for all forms of life and our research is at the forefront of doing exactly that.
Spokesperson: Garth Davies, Head of Press and Public Affairs
Phone: 01392 72 2616/07584 265572