Our research journey

As the ‘University for Birmingham,’ our core mission is to transform lives by creating forward-thinking graduates, and serving as a regional anchor and civic university for the benefit of students, citizens, businesses, public bodies and third sectors alike.

This is underwritten by our commitment to foster economic growth, social innovation and cultural vitality in our region, our nation, and beyond.

The discovery of new knowledge, development of new understandings, processes and products and their purposeful application is hardwired into our DNA.

Our approach to research is rich and varied, with our staff population including both career academics and those with professional industry backgrounds.

Our research can be fundamental, often termed ‘blue-sky’ or ‘curiosity-led,’ to develop new understanding and insights. Our research can be applied or ‘demand-led’, aiming to find solutions to problems of direct relevance to individuals, society, and organisations, often in collaboration with end-users. Our research can also take the form of experimental development, drawing on existing knowledge to create new products, processes, and services.

All our scholarly activity and our research, whether fundamental, applied, or experimental in nature, is equally valued and contributes to maintaining our academic vitality and sustainability by:

  • Nourishing the academic well-being of our curriculum.  We ensure our students benefit from the embedding of new knowledge and understanding into their teaching and by providing opportunity for students to participate in real-world research projects.
  • Empowering academic staff to contribute to the global subject knowledge base. Our academics share their research findings with the wider academic community and user-base by publishing journal articles, attending conferences, authoring books, and sharing via our open-access institutional repository.
  • Enabling external support for innovation and enterprise. Through our demand-led and collaborative research, our academics work with organisations of all types across sectors. They conceptualise and implement impactful solutions to regional, national, and global challenges, thereby contributing to societal, cultural, and economic well-being including the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
  • Enhancing our reputation for high-quality and impactful research with our peers, with funders of research and innovation and with organisations seeking new research and innovation collaborations.

BCU has a heritage of creative, professional, and practice-based education spanning almost 180 years, with our roots founded in the Birmingham Schools of Art (1843), Music (1886) and Jewellery (1890). 

Our new cross and inter-disciplinary STEAM initiative harnesses our arts heritage to our strengths in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) to fuel innovation in research, teaching, and partnerships. Our STEAMhouse building in Birmingham is a unique centre dedicated to providing a space for collaboration, innovation and the development of new ideas, start-ups, and ventures.  Our Indian counterpart to our Birmingham-based STEAMhouse - the Munjal Birmingham Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MBCIE) - opened in April 2022. 

Carrying out research and discovering new knowledge makes us a university. Coupling the results of our research to our teaching and to our innovation and enterprise activities to deliver real-world impacts outside academia helps us deliver our mission as the University for Birmingham.