The GRP (Global Research Priority) is a global centre of excellence at the University of Warwick for multidisciplinary research that underpins manufacturing priority areas. The GRP brings together engineers, chemists, physicists, computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and life scientists.
Academics and industrial R&D (research and development) teams are collaborating to turn the challenges facing the manufacturing sector into opportunities. They are doing this by creating innovations to advance manufacturing across three themes:
- Circular economy
- Agricultural manufacturing
- Industrial biotechnology
These themes align to national and international priorities for both industry and society.
“We cannot continue to use resources the way in which we currently use them. We have to make more sustainable products in the future.” — Dr Guy Barker, GRP Academic Co-Lead
The GRP team is committed to developing the circular economy; the goal is to keep resources in use for as long as possible. The idea challenges society's current paradigm in which we make, use and dispose of resources with little thought for the future. One research area is water:
“For example, we flush a lot of valuable stuff away in our water, and we are working on many projects to recover things like phosphates and precious, heavy and rare earth metals.” — Professor Kerry Kirwan, GRP Academic Lead
Agricultural production faces many challenges. By 2050, there will be two billion more people on earth than at present. As a result, there will be a spike in global demand for the resources required to feed these people, such as land, energy and water. Increasing urbanization and industrialization will also put pressure on land requirements. Environmental change, water availability, soil degradation and biodiversity loss will likely threaten food security.
Researchers in the GRP are innovating along the whole agricultural supply chain – from field to fork – to solve these challenges. They are focusing on creating and improving machinery. Also, they are exploring ways to reduce inputs into the agricultural system, to maximize outputs and to extend the shelf life of food.
Industrial biotechnology refers to the use of living cells and/or their enzymes to create industrial products which are more degradable, require less energy, create less waste during production, and sometimes perform better than products created using traditional chemical processes. The UK is committed to developing a strong bioeconomy, in which all economic activity would be derived from bio-based products and processes.
To help create this economy, GRP academics are exploring opportunities within industrial biotechnology. This research combines the University’s expertise from life sciences through to synthetic biology.