Imperial in 2022–23: Societal Impact
Our world-leading researchers play a vital role in addressing society’s most pressing challenges – from discoveries in the health sector to developments in future-focused technologies.
Imperial research is defined by its global reach, groundbreaking discoveries, and positive impact on the world. We are proud to have a greater proportion of worldleading research than any other UK university, as published in the Research Excellence Framework 2021.
We continue to encourage the development of brave ideas to manage future challenges and respond to new opportunities through both discovery-led research and the translation of that work into tangible benefits for society.
2022-23 in focus
Launch of Centre for Paediatric Blast Injuries Studies
In May 2023, Imperial joined with Save the Children to launch the world’s first centre dedicated to studying and providing lifesaving innovations to children injured by explosive weapons.
The new Centre for Paediatric Blast Injuries Studies brings together medics, engineers, pain specialists, operational humanitarians and prosthetics and rehabilitation experts who are driving research and innovations to meet the clinical needs of children with blast injuries.
Imperial hosts joint dementia symposium
Experts from across Imperial came together in June 2023, to discuss the latest research progress in vascular dementia, the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s.
Jointly hosted by the British Heart Foundation Centre for Research Excellence and the UK Dementia Research Institute Centre at Imperial, the symposium brought together experts to discuss emerging insights into vascular dementia care and treatment. Four experimental research projects to improve diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and explore new avenues for treatment, are also being driven forward with the support of a £7.5m gift from the Michael Uren Foundation.
Humans of Health Research exhibition
Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) brought its photography exhibition to the White City community and its partners earlier this year.
Humans of Health Research is a series aiming to showcase the value and impact of health research. It features photography and interviews with researchers who discuss why they carry out research, what they’ve learned, and advice for future researchers. Patients are also featured in the series and talk about why they got involved in research and how taking part has affected their health and their life. The images have since been donated to participating hospitals where they will be displayed on the walls for staff, patients and visitors.
Students engage the public
Students taking part in this year’s Public Engagement Horizons module collaborated with WellHome–West London Healthy Home and Environment Study to create activities to explore health impacts of pollutants inside our homes.
This highly interactive module encourages students to reflect on their role and responsibility as future STEM professionals to engage with broader audiences. They applied their learning and projects to engage visitors at public engagement events including Imperial Lates.
“It was new and interesting trying to adapt our skills from talking to Imperial students to then talking to small children and getting them excited about science.”
Janushana Sutharsan, Participant and Faculty of Medicine undergraduate student
White City Campus launch of AI initiative
Imperial’s major new initiative I-X launched in February 2023 at White City.
The initiative is housed over two floors at the Translation and Innovation Hub and brings together over 300 researchers from the Faculties of Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Medicine, as well as Imperial College Business School, working with industrial partners.
I-X will use AI and data science to tackle global challenges by bringing together multidisciplinary academic teams from across Imperial with companies and non-profit labs. Its projects include developing computational tools for improving image-based detection and diagnosis of disease, using AI to direct the design and implementation of new biological systems, and intelligent systems and networks for monitoring, control, and security of critical infrastructure.
Cloud computing of tomorrow
The digital revolution will transform all aspects of society and here at Imperial, we are planning for this future.
A new initiative, known as Communications Hub for Empowering Distributed Cloud Computing Applications and Research, will bring researchers together to drive innovations in cloud computing systems.
The hub will be launched at Imperial with £2m funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, as part of a wider £6m investment into the technologies of tomorrow.
The QuEST for quantum technology
The QuEST for quantum technology Imperial has launched a new QuEST (Centre for Quantum Engineering, Science and Technology) initiative to bring together world-leading experts in quantum science and engineering to develop technologies of the future.
QuEST will help ensure discoveries in quantum science become transformative technologies that benefit society – from quantum ‘compasses’ that could allow navigation without satellites, to creating supercomputers, and developing new algorithms for finance.
World's first transatlantic flight on 100% sustainable aviation fuel
Imperial has continued its research to pioneer breakthroughs and technologies to support the aviation industry’s transition to zero pollution – with work on the world’s transatlantic flight on 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel.
Researchers have been working with partners to launch the passenger flight from London to New York, which will be fuelled by 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel, combined with carbon removal through biochar credits – a material that traps and stores carbon taken from the atmosphere. The initiative is funded by the UK government’s Department for Transport.
Sharing insights on decarbonising buildings
Researchers from Imperial have been sharing valuable insights with climate change and policy experts through the Decarbonising Buildings: Insight from across Europe paper published by the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial.
The report’s authors say that the UK’s efforts to upgrade homes to combat energy bills and climate change are trailing behind Europe, sharing learnings to demonstrate how the UK could decarbonise and increase the energy efficiency of its buildings.
Developing modern chemical manufacturing methods
A major consortium, led by Imperial and chemical company BASF, is pooling expertise to advance flow chemistry, to make chemical manufacturing more efficient, resilient, and sustainable.
The consortium will pool expertise to advance flow chemistry, a production technique in which the required reactions take place in continuous operation rather than in batches. Flow chemistry allows manufacturers to produce more consistent products, use energy and materials more efficiently, and introduce greater automation.
3D printing drones to build and repair structures
Imperial researchers and Empa (the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) have created a fleet of bee-inspired flying 3D printers for building and repairing structures in-flight.
3D printing is gaining momentum in the construction industry. Both on-site and in the factory, static and mobile robots print materials for use in construction projects, such as steel and concrete structures. The technology could ultimately be used for manufacturing and building in difficult-to-access or dangerous locations such as tall buildings or help with post-disaster relief construction.
Imperial and UN leaders to tackle development challenges
Global issues such as health, climate and food security were on the agenda when Imperial’s President, Professor Hugh Brady and Vice Provost (Research and Enterprise) Professor Mary Ryan, met with UN officials in New York this year. They discussed how science and technology can contribute to these major issues.
Imperial also has an ongoing official consultative role with the UN after being awarded consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The new status will see Imperial’s community closely engage with ECOSOC to contribute towards policymaking, hold joint events with the UN, and advance the Sustainable Development Goals through research and collaboration.
Cyclone data on smartphones
Imperial researchers, partnered with Vodafone Foundation, are using the computing power of millions of smartphones to crunch data about cyclones. Researchers at the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and Environment will run thousands of models of cyclones across the world to improve cyclone prediction using the Vodafone Foundation’s DreamLab app.
The app uses the computing power of smartphones while their users sleep with a network equivalent to a virtual supercomputer capable of processing billions of calculations, without collecting or disclosing any user data.
Social media to help monitor wildfires
Data scientists from Imperial’s Data Science Institute have developed a new machine learning model to predict and monitor wildfires. Scientists combined social media data and geophysical satellite data to predict wildfire characteristics with high accuracy.
The study demonstrates how social media could be key to making more informed, socially driven decisions, which could help disaster management teams to identify areas of immediate danger.