Global Research Challenge 2017

Creating (y)our future

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

The best way to create the future is to determine, develop and support great ideas that will stand the test of time. This is why we are running the Arup Global Research Challenge 2017.

Our annual competition aims to deepen understanding of topics that cut across all of our skills and businesses. It focuses upon selected significant issues of the day that challenge all of us, helping foster creativity whilst responding to new trends and establish collaborations that will increase the impact of our research. We welcome applications from academic and industrial collaborators, as well as from Arup’s own staff from around the world. We have selected TWO themes for this year:

Theme 1: Application and impact of machine learning on/in the built environment 

Machine learning is a massive disruptive force. It presents both tremendous opportunities and significant challenges for the design, procurement and creation of the built environment at all scales. It will impact our industry in the very near future, but we really do not know how and to what extent.

How will “the separation of thinking from the thinker” change the value chain? How will it impact how we perceive our world around us? What will be impacted first? What will not be impacted? Is it only about the data? What will the engineer/designer of 2030 need to now? What will ‘practice’ look like? This theme hopes to address these and many other questions

Theme 2: Adaptation of circular economy principles on/in built environment projects

The built environment ecosystem is notoriously slow at adapting to any new processes or technologies. Our environmental footprint is too large and we must integrate the principles and processes of the circular economy in order to reduce it. There is a need to co-develop and share research that can challenge us all to apply circular economy principles in practice. This theme hopes to find demonstrations through project examples, prototypes and pilots with partners.

Who can apply and how to enter the competition

The Global Research Challenge (GRC) is open to all. In every case there is a requirement for successful projects to have a collaboration with a current member of Arup staff. External organisations, whether current research collaborators or not, are encouraged to submit and Arup’s Global Research team will help to identify appropriate potential collaborators within Arup (stage 2 of the application process will need to be led by an Arup member of staff). Arup will seek contributions-in-kind from private organisations and will not ordinarily provide direct cash funding.

If you have an idea, please complete the brief expression of interest form.

External applicants, prior to submission of Stage 2, need to contact the Arup team they are interested in engaging with. If you do not have an existing relationship with Arup, please contact Agnieszka Krzyzaniak who will  connect you to the right team.

The winners and the funding

Arup’s Global Research Funding Panel will evaluate entries based on novelty, relevance, quality, potential impact for our business and value of collaboration (preferably cross region and multidisciplinary).

We anticipate funding 5-8 projects per theme with budgets of £30k to £50k.

Examples of projects funded in previous years can be found at our research page.

Key dates for 2017

  • 17 February - deadline for EoIs
  • 03 March - announcement of shortlisted proposals
  • 31 March - deadline for full proposals
  • 24 April - announcement of winning projects & funding approval
  • 01 May - commencement of projects

External applicants will be asked to discuss the terms of the collaboration agreement early on to help speed up the engagement.

Submit your expressions of interest. Shortlisted candidates will then be invited to submit full proposals.

We look forward to hearing your ideas and working with you!

Dr Chris Luebkeman
Fellow, Director Global Foresight+Research+Innovation

Agnieszka Krzyzaniak
Senior Research Analyst

Expression of interest form — Please apply here


  • Global Research Challenge 2017

    Our annual competition focuses upon selected significant issues of the day that challenge all of us.