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A retrofitting revolution

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Cambridge recognised for its leadership in knowledge exchange

The KEF provides a range of information about the knowledge exchange activities of English higher education institutions – in other words, how each institution works with external partners, from businesses to community groups, for the benefit of the economy and society.

When compared with its peer group in cluster ‘V’ (very large, research-intensive universities), Cambridge shows:

  • very high engagement for research partnerships, as measured by co-authorship with non-academic partners and contributions to collaborative research
  • very high engagement for IP and commercialisation, and working with business
  • very high engagement for working with the public and third sector, as measured by income from contract research, consultancy and the provision of facilities and equipment services to these partners
  • high engagement for public and community engagement in line with the cluster average.

Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at Cambridge, said: “The University of Cambridge has a fantastically rich knowledge exchange ecosystem. Here, unique and constantly-evolving support systems, physical spaces and development opportunities exist to enable the pursuit, dissemination and application of world-leading research and knowledge for the benefit of society.

“This ecosystem, together with productive relationships with our industry partners, many of them stretching back over decades with a shared history of innovation, and the many opportunities for public engagement, helps ensure that Cambridge is a vibrant and welcoming place for knowledge exchange.”

Dr Karen Kennedy, Director of the Strategic Partnerships Office, added: “By working in partnership with businesses and other organisations, we are able to turn our research into new technologies, therapeutics and applications that will make a positive difference to people’s lives, both in the UK and around the world. The KEF has an important role to play in highlighting the value of such collaborations and we are delighted that Cambridge has been recognised for its strength in this regard.”

Partnerships

Combining expertise at the University of Cambridge with the insights, resources and capabilities of commercial partners enhances the ability to change lives through, for example, pioneering new cures for disease, making breakthroughs in energy transition and shaping a more sustainable, more equitable future.

This has led, for instance, to the launch of the Cambridge Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine in partnership with AstraZeneca and GSK, the creation of a recruitment programme for neurodiverse individuals in partnership with Aviva, and a partnership with KPMG to look at the future of work, starting with mental wellbeing.

With support from Cambridge Zero, which aims to maximise the University’s contribution towards achieving a resilient and sustainable zero-carbon world, work has been ongoing to establish broad academic–industry networks to promote wider collaborations in key decarbonisation challenge areas. In addition, a partnership with South Korean investment group WP Investment Company (WPIC) is seeking to progress research in sustainable energy systems, particularly the production of lithium and its use in batteries for electric vehicles.

Commercialisation

Cambridge scored highly for its IP commercialisation, in part because of work done by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation arm. Cambridge Enterprise works with academics to protect, develop and move innovations based on University research toward the market. Early stage innovations are licensed to existing companies for development or spun out as new companies. The goal is getting early stage ideas out of labs and into use, for the benefit of society and the economy.

Dr Diarmuid O'Brien, Chief Executive of Cambridge Enterprise, said: “University research and innovation have a vital role to play in confronting huge global challenges such as climate change. That is our mission, to help the University’s researchers bring positive change to the world through their research.”

In the financial year 2020-2021, Cambridge Enterprise approved £5.7m of investments in 21 companies, 7 of which were at seed stage. Among these were three companies developing new technologies focused on reducing carbon emissions – Nyobolt, Echion Technologies and Carbon Re. These three companies collectively raised over £20 million of investment and are helping to move the world to a more sustainable future.

Cambridge Enterprise is part of an extensive support infrastructure that helps postdocs, academics and staff plan, launch and fund successful ventures. Cambridge Enterprise and the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge, for instance, together run an annual Postdoc Business Plan designed to help accelerate the creation of businesses based on Cambridge research.

Now in its eighth year, the competition has led 73 teams through a programme of training, mentoring and business plan iteration. These 73 teams have gone on to raise over £69 million in investment. Among the winners of the competition is Dr Giorgia Longobardi (pictured), whose spin-out Cambridge GaN Devices has developed a range of power devices using the energy-efficient semiconductor gallium nitride, heralding a new era of greener electronics. The £20,000 first prize in 2016 was invested in, and helped accelerate, the company.

Public engagement

The University’s public engagement activities were also rated highly. Public engagement fulfils the University’s mission by creating bridges between researchers and the public, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Partnerships with civic organisations, charities, and arts and community groups help build and maintain relationships with our local communities.

Dr Lucinda Spokes, Head of Public Engagement, said: “Training and advice underpins everything we do. This provides researchers with the skills and confidence to work collaboratively with their communities and stakeholders sharing expertise to co-produce knowledge, improve research outcomes and deliver wider societal benefit.”

University of Cambridge Museums and Botanic Garden (UCM), along with the flagship Cambridge Festival, open up the University's research and Collections to all, with over one million people visiting exhibitions, talks and activities each year. UCM enables significant contributions to connecting with some of the most vulnerable communities, reducing loneliness, enhancing health and wellbeing, and supporting the development of children and young people.

Digital public engagement, driven by necessity at the start of the pandemic, provided the University with new ways to engage with people both locally and globally. Since 2021, digital engagement as part of the Cambridge Festival has resulted in over 150K views of research-led content by audiences in over 170 countries.

KEF

The KEF has been developed by Research England, a public body who fund Higher Education Institutions to undertake research and knowledge exchange.

David Sweeney CBE, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “Knowledge exchange is integral to the mission and purpose of our universities, and its importance in contributing to societal and economic prosperity is strongly supported by the Government.

“Today’s new version of the Knowledge Exchange Framework takes further forward the vision and potential of KE activity, providing richer evidence to demonstrate universities’ strengths in different areas when set alongside their peers.”

Cambridge’s leadership in knowledge exchange has been recognised in today's Knowledge Exchange Framework 2 (KEF2) results, published by Research England. Cambridge secured the highest performance scores in many areas of knowledge exchange, with very high engagement for intellectual property (IP) commercialisation, research partnerships, working with business, and working with the public and third sectors.

“The University of Cambridge has a fantastically rich knowledge exchange ecosystem. Here, unique and constantly-evolving support systems, physical spaces and development opportunities exist to enable the pursuit, dissemination and application of world-leading research and knowledge for the benefit of society" Andy NeelyStillVisionDr Giorgia Longobardi, winner of a Cambridge Enterprise Postdoc Business Plan Competition


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Cambridge research centre puts people at the heart of AI

The Centre for Human-Inspired Artificial Intelligence (CHIA) brings together researchers from engineering and mathematics, philosophy and social sciences; a broad range of disciplines to investigate how human and machine intelligence can be combined in technologies that best contribute to social and global progress.

Anna Korhonen, Director of CHIA and Professor of Natural Language Processing, said: “We know from history that new technologies can drive changes with both positive and negative consequences, and this will likely be the case for AI. The goal of our new Centre is to put humans at the centre of every stage of AI development – basic research, application, commercialisation and policymaking – to help ensure AI benefits everyone."

Artificial intelligence is a rapidly developing technology predicted to transform much of our society. While AI has the potential to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems in healthcare, education, climate science and economic sustainability it will need to embrace its human origins to become responsible, transparent and inclusive.

Per-Ola Kristensson, Co-director of CHIA and Professor of Interactive Systems Engineering, said: “For true progress and real-life impact it’s critical to nurture a close engagement with industry, policy makers, non-governmental organisations and civil society. Few universities in the world can rival the breadth and depth of Cambridge making us ideally positioned to make these connections and engage with the communities who face the greatest impact from AI.”

Designed to deliver both academic and real-world impact, CHIA seeks partners in academic, industrial, third-sector and other organizations that share an interest in promoting human-inspired AI.

John Suckling, Co-director of CHIA and Director of Research in Psychiatric Neuroimaging, said: “Our students will be educated in an interdisciplinary environment with access to experts in the technical, ethical, human and industrial aspects of AI. Early-career researchers will be part of all our activities. We are committed to inclusivity and diversity as a way of delivering robust and practical outcomes.”

CHIA will educate the next generation of AI creators and leaders, with dedicated graduate training in human-inspired AI.

Professor Mark Girolami, Chief Scientist, The Alan Turing Institute, said: “As artificial intelligence becomes increasingly pervasive, it’s critical to align its development with societal interests. This new University-wide Centre will explore a human-centric approach to the development of AI to ensure beneficial outcomes for society. Cambridge's depth of expertise in AI and a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration make it an ideal home for CHIA.”

Apart from research and education, the CHIA will also host seminars, public events and international conferences to raise awareness of human-inspired AI. Forums will be convened around topics of ethical or societal concern with representation from all stakeholders.

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “If we’re to ensure that AI works for everyone and does not widen inequalities, then we need to place people at its heart and consider the societal and ethical implications alongside its development. Cambridge, with its ability to draw on researchers across multiple disciplines, is uniquely positioned to be able to lead in this area.”

Neil Lawrence, DeepMind Professor of Machine Learning, added: “Artificial intelligence is provoking new questions in our societies. It’s vital that we deliver the answers in a people-centric manner. The Centre in Human-Inspired AI will provide a new interdisciplinary hub that delivers the solutions for these challenges.”

The University of Cambridge today launches a new research centre dedicated to exploring the possibilities of a world shared by both humans and machines with artificial intelligence (AI).

Introducing The Centre for Human-Inspired Artificial Intelligence Olemedia (Getty Images)Illustration representing artificial intelligence


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New Cambridge Latin course reflects diversity of the Roman world

Breaking news from 79 CE: Caecilius has a daughter. Barbillus is a Greco-Syrian man of colour. Enslaved people aren’t always happy. Metella is reading in the atrium.

These statements may read like indecipherable babble to some, but for students of Latin, they are among the most notable changes in the new edition of the Cambridge Latin Course: the leading textbook in the ancient language.

The course, a mainstay of Latin learning in British schools since the 1970s, has something nearing cult status with its fans. Its vivid stories, beginning in Book One with the adventures of a Pompeiian family featuring Caecilius, his wife, Metella, son, Quintus, and cook, Grumio, have inspired fan fiction, artistic tributes and even a cameo on Doctor Who.

The newly-published fifth edition represents one of the most significant new editions in its 50-year history. It draws on a wider range of sources and on new scholarship to give a more accurate, evidence-based picture of the classical world. In doing so, it better prepares students to engage with classical works and to think critically about the past, while addressing concerns raised by teachers, academics and students about the representation of women, enslaved people, and minorities in the Roman world.

While the original cast are as central as ever, new characters have been introduced, stories rewritten and features updated. Women have greater prominence (Caecilius has a new daughter called Lucia, for example), readers learn more about the lives of enslaved people, and the multicultural reality of Rome’s vast, intercontinental empire is represented in greater detail.

The course, written by the Cambridge Schools Classics Project at the University of Cambridge, has been informed by a fact-finding exercise in 2018 which involved school visits, surveys and interviews with hundreds of teachers and pupils, confirmed other long-held doubts about representation in the course books, prompting a more thorough reassessment.

Caroline Bristow, director of the Cambridge School Classics Project, said: “The aim has always been to introduce students to the complexity of the Roman world and get them to think critically about it while learning Latin. That prepares them to engage more thoroughly with authentic classical sources. The feedback we got told us we weren’t doing enough in that regard.”

Girls were especially keen to see more of the female characters – many had already started inventing their own backstories for them.

The stories in the new edition are, as ever, rooted in historical research, but expand women’s roles and devote more attention to their lived experiences. Lucia, for example, is being pushed into an arranged marriage in Book One. Caecilius also hires a female painter, Clara, to introduce students to the fact that poorer Roman women had to work as well as men.

Bristow said: “We wanted to provide students with a more rounded picture of people and events, while ensure the stories remain historically grounded. We’ve done that by drawing from that wider range of sources and events.”

This also helps to address the challenges that inclusion, access and minority representation can present for Classics educators. In particular, research highlights the imposter syndrome that people of colour feel when encountering the inaccurate, but standard, depiction of Rome as predominantly white. Other studies have shown that without being prompted to see diversity, even students of colour automatically make this assumption about the Roman world – a finding backed up by teachers’ experiences in the classroom.

Responding to this, greater attention was given to cultural diversity in the new edition. For example, Barbillus, a wealthy Greco-Syrian merchant character, features more prominently and is clearly presented as a person of colour. His early presence in the stories is partly intended to challenge another general misconception, that such people were always enslaved.

Jasmine Elmer, a Classics educator and media personality whose work focuses on trying to broaden access to, and understanding of, the ancient past, was one of several experts who reviewed the new edition. “We’ve tended to take an all-white view of an empire that clearly wasn’t,” she said. “If you’re a person of colour, it’s natural to wonder whether people like you were even there. The new course seems to be braver about those issues. It doesn’t run away from complicated subject matter; it turns it into teaching points.”

Enslaved characters were, in earlier editions, sometimes depicted in simplistic terms: as “happy”, “hard-working” or “lazy”. In the new edition, slavery is now depicted through the eyes of its victims, focusing on their anxieties and gruelling lives.

Other changes reflect developments in historical scholarship since the series was last updated. Ingo Gildenhard, a Professor of Classics at Cambridge, advised the production team on a section on gladiators in Book One. Traditionally, gladiatorial combat has been presented as a strange, bloodthirsty aspect of Roman culture. Without ignoring its horrors, modern research nonetheless shows the reality was more complex: arena combat also stirred Roman audiences because it reinforced key contemporary values, such as martial prowess.

Teaching materials in the new edition draw attention to that more nuanced perspective. “It’s essential that instead of brushing aspects of Roman culture under the carpet, we look at it in the round,” Gildenhard said. “Part of this is about empowering teachers with new scholarship they might not have encountered. It’s also about inviting students to think critically about the past and its relationship to the present. That’s a valuable skill whether or not you end up doing Latin long term.”

Pupils and teachers have tested the new edition and responded positively. One young reviewer told the team: “I like that Lucia is educated, but I would like to know whether she actually wants to marry or not.” Of Clara, another commented: “It’s good that Caecilius is hiring women”.

Bristow said: “We sometimes get told that children just want to learn the language, study the amazing things Romans did and dress up as gladiators,” she said. “There’s lots that was inspiring, but this was a complex world. We’re teaching children to be Classicists. We’re not teaching them to be Romans.”

 

This story was first published by Cambridge's Faculty of Education.
 

The latest edition of the leading Latin course has been designed to more accurately depict the roles of women, minorities and enslaved people in the Roman world.

It’s essential that instead of brushing aspects of Roman culture under the carpet, we look at it in the roundIngo GildenhardCharacters from the Cambridge Latin Course, Book OneCharacters from the Cambridge Latin Course, Book One


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

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Cambridge commended for communication of research

"Creative, resourceful and innovative" approaches to communicating research have been recognised with four international CASE Circle of Excellence awards.

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