A project with a recycling business that supports charitable work won the 2018 Times Higher Education Award for ‘Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration’.

In partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Recycling Lives worked to avoid sending waste residue to landfill sites, after the company shreds vehicles at the end of their lives.

At the National Centre, we believe such collaborations between universities and business are crucial to delivering the knowledge rich economy the UK needs. With the idea of celebrating successes, we created the ‘Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration’ Award with the Times Higher Education back in 2016 and we’re delighted that HSBC sponsorship has enabled the award to continue in 2018.

2018’s winning collaboration is the result of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between UCLan and the Preston-based business Recycling Lives. The team led by Dr Ala Khodier, a chemical engineer and associate at UCLan found a heat treatment could turn the residue away from landfill into a saleable product and electrical energy – with potential annual savings of £1.5 million while generating 1,200 megawatts of electricity. As well as supporting social projects such as prisoner rehabilitation and homelessness through its recycling work, Recycling Lives, with UCLAN, also identified metals in the residue, allowing them to be extracted to further boost recycling rates.

Suzy Verma, Head of Public Sector & Education at HSBC expressed her pleasure at the awards ceremony: “Congratulations to both Recycling Lives and the University of Central Lancashire for their fantastic project. This project has it all – environmental social and financial benefits – and it gives students hands-on work-experience, and company employees higher education training. I wish them every success in their joint venture to build a research facility to commercialise this project.”

NCUB CEO Dr Joe Marshall also offered his congratulations. “We’re delighted to see this collaboration demonstrate, so clearly, that universities working with business delivers above and beyond expectations,” he said.

This year’s shortlist for the award included five other excellent partnerships and we’ve covered these as success stories on our website. They include joint efforts to fight medical device associated infections, placements helping to mould a global retail strategy, saving a traditional printing process, a virtual-reality game on the life of one of Britain’s greatest scientists, and the history of coffee embedded in a coffee company’s staff training programme. As we witness year after year, our members do not disappoint.