We must achieve enduring excellence in research and education, and use that for the good of society.

Professor Alice P. GastPhotography: Imperial College London/Thomas Angus

Our mission at Imperial is to achieve enduring excellence in research and education in science, engineering, medicine and business for the benefit of society. Our mission is more than an aspiration. It is what guides us in all that we do.

Imperial magazine provides a glimpse of some of the ways that the Imperial community of staff, students and alumni fulfil this mission to benefit society. They do this in a variety of ways and in a wide range of places.

In this issue, for example, we learn how research in synthetic biology helps pave the way for new drugs and new materials. We see how in Liberia, and back in the UK, Imperial scientists and alumni responded to the Ebola epidemic. We are impressed that two of our recent graduates started a company that could revolutionise the building industry. We are thankful that the work of an Imperial team in Borneo may help save rainforests. We are excited about the power of our Imperial ‘hackspaces’ to unleash curiosity.

These are but a few examples of how every day – both on campus and throughout the world – Imperial uses our excellence in research and education in science, engineering, medicine and business for the good of society.

In addition to excellence, it is our commitment to collaboration, patience and sharing that helps us achieve great things. These four attributes are the characteristics of a great university in changing times.

Society’s demands on universities have never been greater. The opportunities for Imperial staff, students and alumni to contribute abound. We are fortunate to be a part of a great university that can meet society’s demands.

Yet, as good as we feel about our work and our association with Imperial, we also know that there is a divide between those who believe that research and teaching brings great value to society and those who feel that they have been left behind and are not reaping the benefits of investment in higher education.

We look beyond the immediate to advance the frontiers of knowledge"

We live and work in a time when universities are viewed by some as part of the problem rather than a source of solutions. Some think that universities are elite institutions that are not relevant to them.

Collaborating with others to improve the world is one of the characteristics of a great university, and it is more important than ever. We need to share our innovations and discoveries more broadly and in ways we have not shared them before. We must continue to address global issues while paying increased attention to the ways these issues are manifest close to home in our neighbouring communities.

Our new campus at White City provides us with an opportunity to do this. In late October, Imperial welcomed our neighbours in the White City community to the opening of The Invention Rooms, the first facility of its kind in the UK. It provides workshops and interactive spaces called ‘maker spaces’ and ‘hackspaces’ that give community members of all ages a place to come together to work personally and directly with our staff, students, alumni and partners to test out their creative ideas, and share in the excitement of research and innovation.

The opening of The Invention Rooms is an important beginning to a strong, respectful and lasting relationship between Imperial and our neighbours in White City. We will benefit from one another’s presence. Imperial and other great research universities educate tomorrow’s leaders, provide solutions to pressing problems, and look beyond the immediate to advance the frontiers of knowledge.

Imperial will continue to rise to the challenge of the times. It is a challenge that requires the collective expertise, strengths and goodwill of the worldwide Imperial community. We are very grateful for your support and encouragement.