Scientific Missions

Scientific Missions

UKCRIC is working to benefit society by encouraging disparate areas of infrastructure to work collaboratively with each other.

UKCRIC is driven by research in four Scientific Missions, each working to develop and deliver breakthrough research for the benefit of society. The Scientific Missions are designed to facilitate the delivery of interconnected, integrated and transdisciplinary research programmes and projects.

UKCRIC is establishing and developing Research Agendas for each of the Scientific Missions that bring into focus problem-specific societal challenges that require many different sectors to interact to find a solution. This focus on problems, rather than on sectors, means that solutions can be applied to multiple challenges faced by society.

The Research Agendas aim to facilitate investments in the UKCRIC facilities and shape collaborations with UKCRIC Members and others from the wider stakeholder community. UKCRIC’s initial science programme comprises eight agendas, each led by a UKCRIC academic champion.

"The Missions are a work in progress, and continue to evolve through discussion, workshops and shifting societal needs. "
Prof. Paul Jeffrey

The four Scientific Missions are:


Infrastructure and urban systems for one planet living

Accelerating sustainability through substantial advances in responsible consumption, resource efficiency and sustainable growth and helping the UK meet its carbon targets.

Underpinning research agendas

  • Low-carbon materials
  • Lean infrastructure

Key Enablers

  • KE1:   Optimising the layout and spatial relationships of infrastructure for human health and wellbeing, environmental benefit, and minimum resource use
  • KE2:   Decarbonising infrastructure through more efficient design, low carbon materials, and extending the life of existing infrastructure
  • KE3:   Decarbonising households through better insulation, reducing energy use, and improving transportation 
  • KE4:   Sustainable resource use – creating circular economies, improving material efficiency, and avoiding waste
  • KE5:   Avoiding pollution – land, water and air

Lead academics: William Powrie and David Richards





Ownership, governance and business models for infrastructure and urban systems

Developing innovative models for coping with greater system interdependencies, changing patterns of use and new, disruptive technologies while at the same time delivering social justice and affordability.

Underpinning research agendas

  • Balancing risks and responsibilities
  • Responsiveness to innovation and change

Key Enablers

  • KE1:   Evaluating how appraisal techniques for infrastructure and building projects might be modified to account for climate change
  • KE2:   Understanding how the ways in which risk and uncertainty are characterised and managed influence infrastructure investment and operation
  • KE3:   Learning how investors view the risks associated with solutions which emphasise resilience and sustainability
  • KE4:   Exposing how customers perceive the equity and fairness of different utility pricing strategies and mechanisms
  • KE5:   Determining what new data and information is needed to support progressive ownership, governance and business models
  • KE6:   Protecting whole city health and resilience where infrastructure governance arrangements are fragmented

Lead academics: Paul Jeffrey and Brian Collins


Transformational infrastructure and urban systems for a changing world

Pioneering methods in infrastructure and urban systems design to meet the challenges of climate change, changing patterns of use, societal expectations and emergent technologies.

Underpinning research agendas

  • Resilience (soil and flooding)
  • Digital twinning of infrastructure

Key Enablers

  • KE1:   Improving resilience (to climate change, extreme weather events including severe flooding, droughts, heatwaves, etc.) 
  • KE2:   Understanding system networks and dependencies for resilient operation 
  • KE3:   Security of infrastructure (both physical and cyber) 
  • KE4:  Productivity – Large scale modularization / off-site fabrication / MMC (& extending the life of infrastructure)
  • KE5:   Digital twinning for energy & transport infrastructure
  • KE6:  Intelligent / smart infrastructure

Lead academic: Gordon Masterton and Sean Smith

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Infrastructure and urban systems as drivers of equity, inclusion and social justice

Providing the underpinning, transdisciplinary research platforms for forging healthy, happy and productive lives for all through urban design, planning, policy and infrastructure.

Underpinning research agendas

  • Accessible, affordable urban mobility 
  • Socially just utility service provision

Key Enablers

  • KE1:   Improving liveability – consciously putting people at the heart of infrastructure and urban systems (IUS) decision-making
  • KE2:   Understanding system networks and dependencies to establish the impacts on the end users of our national, regional and local IUS
  • KE3:   Supporting the Levelling-Up agendas by making our IUS accessible and affordable for all
  • KE4:   Working with the end users of IUS to co-create interventions, and influence policies, that align with their needs alongside those of the planet (moving to net zero, resource security, avoiding planetary harm)
  • KE5:   Ensure that the digital twinning activity for IUS balances the economic imperatives with social and environmental imperatives 
  • KE6:   Engage with the smart city agendas to make IUS truly smart, i.e. smart from the end users’ and planet’s, (i.e. individual, social and environmental) perspectives as well as economically

Lead academic: Chris Rogers



Cross cutting themes within each Mission, alongside links with UKCRIC’s facilities and industry, are central to achieving UKCRIC’s vision.

All of UKCRIC’s research projects are working to contribute to one or more of these missions. We are actively seeking new research collaborations that align with our Missions. 


Photo credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash



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