The University is embarking on an innovative research partnership with EDF Energy, the company behind the UK’s new nuclear power station project, Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

The partnership will establish the Hinkley Point C Supply Chain Innovation Lab in our School of Management, creating a community of academics, managers and policy-makers with the aim of improving the management of supply chains within complex capital projects.

The construction of Hinkley Point C is one of the most complex infrastructure projects in the UK. Despite the challenges of orchestrating the global supply chain to deliver the project on time, to specification and on budget, EDF Energy is committed to devising innovative ways of working.

Keeping contracts local

The company has developed a consortia approach for its suppliers, enabling local companies to join forces to bid for contracts that would otherwise remain out of reach.

Research at the Lab could mean the model can help inform future capital projects within the UK, and potentially lead to the elevation of local suppliers in the construction process.

Big business as a force for good

Professor Veronica Hope Hailey, Dean of our School of Management where the Lab is based, said: “We are delighted to enter into a partnership with EDF Energy. We are working with them on many different projects, all of which demonstrate that big business can be a 'force for good' in the social and economic development of a region."

President and Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, added: “Our School of Management is a world leader in supply chain research and education. The size, spend and complexity of Hinkley Point C presents an outstanding opportunity to study and analyse a truly global supply chain.”

The partnership will fund a number of new research posts at the University within the Hinkley Point C Supply Chain Innovation Lab.

New Lab to inspire policy and professionals

Professor Brian Squire is director of the new Lab and explained its purpose: “First, we want to create new knowledge by examining the behaviours and structures of complex supply networks. Second, we want to disseminate that knowledge for the purposes of improving industry practice, creating better policy and inspiring the next generation of supply chain professionals”.

The partnership was announced at an event in Bristol that brought together representatives from more than 320 supply chain partners working on the new power station, to inspire collaboration.

Influencing future capital projects

Ken Owen, EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C commercial director, said: “EDF Energy’s partnership with the University of Bath will enable other major infrastructure projects to learn from our approach to procurement for Hinkley Point C where we have created a global supply chain while still supporting businesses local to the project.

“We have already put £465 million into local and family-owned firms when we could easily have just gone to national companies to take on some of the project’s most important contracts.

“Instead, we worked to build-up local companies to do the same jobs, effectively creating national companies from local businesses by helping them work together.”

The Hinkley Point C project has created 650 jobs in the South West. It will create 25,000 new employment opportunities over the construction period and, once completed, will generate enough electricity for around six million homes.

Kirsten Buckley, Head of Corporate Partnerships in our Department of Development & Alumni Relations, said: “We are thrilled that in the University's 50th Anniversary year, EDF Energy is making a landmark philanthropic investment in our research. This investment will hugely benefit staff and students, and the Lab will act as a catalyst for further collaboration with EDF Energy across campus.”

For further information regarding the partnership, please contact our Corporate Partnerships team on 01225 383745.