We delivered our 10th Integrative Think Tank in partnership with global food manufacturer PepsiCo and the multinational automotive propulsion consultancy AVL at the beginning of June. Challenges explored included predictive models for battery maintenance, modelling emissions in cities, and optimising manufacturing methods.

ITTs take high level challenges from external partners and formulate them into mathematical questions that can be addressed through long-term research projects. Often these questions go on to form the basis of a SAMBa student's PhD research, working in collaboration with the partners.

Taking forward research ideas

An example of this comes from Laura Oporto Lisboa, who is just entering the research phase of her SAMBa programme. Laura will pursue research building on a challenge brought by AVL around the modelling for air quality prediction in cities. She will tackle this from a statistical applied mathematics perspective, bringing together supervisory expertise in fluid mechanics and spatial statistics in order to explore the complex question of how to predict when and where pollution will occur.

Laura said: "I believe that industrial and academic collaboration is essential to address society's greatest challenges. Since I have an industrial background, I have always been interested in how this interaction takes place. ITTs have been great experiences to really see how mathematical research underpins advances in industry and society. I found the challenge presented by AVL very interesting and I am looking forward to work during the next few years on air quality modelling and its impact on traffic management."

SAMBa moves into a second stage of funding

SAMBa successfully bid for further support from EPSRC in 2018 and we'll start the next phase of activity from this September when we welcome our 6th cohort of students. ITTs will remain at the heart of the SAMBa experience, developing deep and collaborative research ideas across disciplines, and generating PhD projects for SAMBa students and more widely, as well as other research projects. ITTs have already led to 21 PhD projects and 4 funded research projects and we expect much more to come as many ideas reach fruition some time after the ITT event itself is over.

ITT11 will bring back our partners from ITT1, BT, and will also host the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials.

You can find out more about the ITT model, and read about previous ITTs, on the SAMBa webpage.