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The University of Southampton

University of Southampton to showcase the global impact of its research

Published: 12 October 2010

The University of Southampton will demonstrate how its research has changed the world, such as building the foundations for the internet and reducing aircraft noise, at a special event in London tomorrow.

SETsquared, the research and enterprise partnership of the universities of Bath, Bristol, Southampton and Surrey, hosts the “Changing Worlds” event on Wednesday 13 October, to showcase the global impact of their research.

Celebrating a decade of working in collaboration, the SETsquared Partnership’s goal is to maximise the benefit of its university research to the economy, society and the environment. The unique event will showcase 20 case studies from a range of fields, all with world-changing outcomes. Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Universities & Science Minister is the key note speaker, following a panel discussion between representatives from industry, government and academia. The event opens at 9.30am at One Great George Street in the heart of Westminster. A full programme can be found at

Keith Robson, Chair of the SETsquared Management Group explains the purpose of the event: “Our everyday lives, our health, our work, how we travel and communicate are all dependent on products and services that are the result of major scientific discoveries, many of which have originated in our best UK universities. At Changing Worlds, the SETsquared Partnership is showing how important industry collaboration and government funding can be in helping academic research reach its full potential.”

Academics and their external partners - from industry, medicine, NGOs and many other fields – involved in these hugely successful developments, will present their discoveries and demonstrate how research has stimulated billion dollar markets, or improved the lives of thousands of people around the world.

Our research is vital to the understanding and response to climate change
Understanding climate change

The University of Southampton case studies will show, for example:

  • how ‘blue skies’ research at the University of Southampton built the foundations for the modern internet;
  • how the science of Oceanography is becoming increasingly vital to our understanding and response to climate change;
  • how the University opened up access to public information in a new way to create new applications, services or businesses;
  • how the University has been working to cut the noise from aircraft for over 40 years; 
  • how the University is helping to improve the performance of British athletes in major sporting events.

Representatives from a variety of industrial backgrounds, including spin-out companies and larger businesses who have worked in partnership with the universities on long-term research, will explain how they have benefited, not least because of the universities’ ability to generate ideas and innovate in times of recession.

The SETsquared Partnership promotes close links with industry and specialises in the commercialisation and transfer of the four universities’ research and technologies. The ten year relationship has generated substantial impact on the UK and global economy through its university-based research programmes. In addition, the flotation of the top 5 spin-out companies from the Partnership has created a combined market capitalisation of over £230 million, the Partnership has raised over £225 million of follow-on funding for ventures in difficult markets and currently supports around 200 high-tech start-up companies through its four business acceleration centres, with more than 1000 jobs created.


Notes for editors

  • The University of Southampton case studies:

    Pioneering optical fibres research: connecting our world together:
    Having generated a cluster of start-up companies with revenues in excess of £100m, the University of Southampton has become a global centre of excellence in photonics through its work on fibre optics. Developed from ‘blue skies’ research in 1987, fibre optics are used in everything from high speed internet connections, to eye surgery and date marking on food.

    Understanding climate change: National Oceanography Centre, Southampton:
    Oceanography is a relatively new science, but one which is becoming increasingly vital to our understanding and response to climate change. Sea level rises, the ocean’s currents and even the wellbeing of tiny creatures living within our oceans can indicate how the Earth’s climate has changed, and help forecast future patterns.

    Transparency and Open Data:
    In January this year a new portal,, was launched by the UK government which opened up access to public information in a new way. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web, and Prof Nigel Shadbolt from the University of Southampton, developed the website and it now contains over 4000 sets of non-personal data to be used to create new applications, services or businesses.

    Reducing aircraft noise:
    For over 40 years the University of Southampton has been working to cut the noise from aircraft: jets flying today make less than 100th of the sound generated by previous aircraft. Since 1999 Rolls-Royce has been working in partnership with the University, incorporating the resulting new technologies into its engines, such as the Trent 900 (found within the A380) and Trent 1000, on the “Dreamliner”.

    Striking Gold: innovation in performance sports:
    Since 2006 research engineers at the University of Southampton have been working with UK Sport to help improve the performance of athletes in major sporting events, including winners Amy Williams and Chris Hoy.

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