RENKEI Aerospace Engineering Workshop: Engaging with Industry

What are the current modes of collaboration with the aerospace industry - where are the areas of best practice and what can we do to build upon this work?


Working with industrial partners takes many shapes and forms, with a number of modes of collaboration possible. The catalyst behind successful partnership would seem to hinge upon identifying the key technology drivers within the aerospace industry and working collaboratively towards a common goal with the industrial partner.  

On a UK national level, models of collaboration and best practice are well known; internationally, those models and practices are potentially vastly different, with learning to be exchanged with colleagues from Japan.


The aim of the Aerospace Engineering Workshop was to bring academics, scholars and research managers together in order to provide a platform to:

  1. Connect research managers and academics between the RENKEI universities, specifically the organising institutions of Bristol, Nagoya and Southampton
  2. Develop and grow relations established in 2014 at the first RENKEI aerospace workshop
  3. Facilitate future project collaborations and joint industry-facing academic research
  4. Steer academic research to be relevant to the needs of aerospace manufacturers
  5. Support skills development to better understand modes of collaboration with the aerospace industry within the UK and Japan.  Understand examples of best practice, models of approach and methods of funding to support collaborative activity. 
  6. Provide an overview of the key technology drivers of the UK Aerospace industry and the related research activities in the organising institutions (Nagoya, Bristol and Southampton) seeking to address those key drivers. 


In alignment with specific individual expertise, the University of Southampton focused its programme of activities around aerodynamics and aircraft noise, while the University of Bristol focused its programme of activities on structures and composites.

The key themes of the activities consisted of:

  1. An overview of the UK context and framework for industrial collaborations in aerospace
  2. Technology drivers and models of engagement

Appropriate site visits were arranged for the participants, including visits to Southampton’s University Technology Centres and Bristol’s National Composite Centre, as well as relevant manufacturing companies in the region (Agusta Westland).

Guest speakers both internal and external to Southampton and Bristol were invited to provide presentations on specific areas related to the theme of the workshop. The presentations aimed to provide background, as well as provoking discussion and opening opportunities for further collaboration. Guest speakers included representatives from the UK government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, and the Aerospace Technology Institute.

Invitations to participate were also extended to JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) and UK Aerospace companies already actively working in Japan (Nasmyth Metallics, Silcoms Limited), as well as Southampton colleagues who participated in the 2014 aerospace workshop in Nagoya and the President of the Southampton University Japanese Society.


Cross fertilisation of ideas and thoughts relative to industrial collaboration were evident as an outcome of the workshop, as was the development of closer working relationships between the participating RENKEI universities.

The programme afforded a greater and better understanding of research expertise offered by the host institutions (Nagoya, Southampton and Bristol) as well as by participating RENKEI colleagues. Attendees met with academics in Southampton from the Aero-astro and Computational Engineering as well as the Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics Groups, some of whom are already actively seeking closer relations with Japan.

Attendees were provided with privileged exposure to cutting edge technologies and research taking place in both Southampton and Bristol, as well as gaining insight into current industrial partnerships with Airbus and Rolls Royce.

Links to UK organisations supporting work with Japanese colleagues were strengthened. Links made to those organisations able to fund this work (Daiwa) will be particularly useful going forward. 

Emphasis on a two way flow (dialogue and discussion) was important through the course of the programme and attendees were enthusiastic about collaborative and interdisciplinary work, as well as having a keen interest in developing links with industry. 

Key actions and areas of collaboration going forward were discussed, and collaboration appears possible in the following areas:

  • Computer Code Sharing
  • Pantographs
  • Space Microwave Transmission


  • University of Southampton
  • University of Bristol
  • Nagoya University