The Structural Integrity Research Foundation (SIRF) was founded in 2012 by TWI Ltd, BP and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. The aim of the foundation is to ensure that university research into issues related to structural integrity align closely to the needs of industry.
Assessing the impact of the Structural Integrity Research Foundation
To achieve this, SIRF is broken down into three distinct areas – Innovation Centres to undertake research programmes in disciplines related to structural integrity, the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) a postgraduate engineering and educational facility, and Accelerated Innovation Programmes (AIPs) which conduct R&D to address the most pressing needs of TWI Members.
Although the AIPs have only recently been launched and therefore cannot yet provide much data, the Innovation Centres and NSIRC are already showing benefits to the UK economy, industrial strategy, research, and closing the skills gap for industry by providing experienced employees. This impact has been measured by Oxford Economics to assess the forecasted contribution of SIRF to the UK economy from 2013 to 2021.
The economic impact of SIRF has been estimated as being worth £189 million to the UK economy (or £109 without the capital impact of setting up the foundation). This can be broken down into four areas:
- Direct Impact – The impact of SIRF through the employment of staff and the GDP and taxes that are generated as a direct result of this: £35 million
- Indirect Impact – Money spent with other businesses in a supply chain who also employ staff, generate GDP and pay taxes: £28 million
- Induced Impact – Employees, including suppliers, who spend their wages in the wider economy, thereby also generating GDP, jobs and tax revenues: £46 million
- Capital Impact – Using suppliers as part of the investment in buildings and equipment, which in turn filters through as staff employment, GDP and taxes: £80 million
In addition to this direct impact, for every 10 jobs at SIRF, 12 more are supported elsewhere in the economy, creating further benefit to the UK.
While difficult to measure, SIRF also supports the UK’s productive capacity by driving innovation through R&D and improving the UK’s skills base. £47 million of funding is expected to be secured between 2013 and 2021. The resulting R&D work is estimated to offer a return of between £20 million and £160 million to the UK economy, depending on various factors.
UK Skills Impact
The education and training of NSIRC students will help provide a highly-skilled workforce and, even allowing for some of the 407 UK and foreign graduates leaving to work abroad, the returns to the UK economy as a result of taxes paid on their earnings are expected to top £101 million. Of course, this is without taking consideration of the benefits of closing the skills gap for industry in general too.
Aside from the millions of pounds that SIRF will provide to the UK economy, there are also distinct benefits for industry from the Innovation Centres, NSIRC and the AIPs. In addition to creating a workforce capable of helping to close the skills gap in the UK workforce SIRF will provide advances for industry via research work, employment and the application of knowledge and skills to the needs of business. Tapping into research and development will offer a wider benefit for UK industry by creating products and services that can be exported to global markets worth billions.
SIRF has already provided millions of pounds to the UK economy and is set to continue this trend over the next few years. In addition to the financial benefits associated with the work of SIRF at TWI, there are also benefits for industry as a result of the training and education of skilled staff, while the resulting projects themselves will advance industry to provide products and services that can be exploited for the future.
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