University establishes £3.4m innovation centre to reduce the Humber’s flood risk

The University of Hull is to establish a £3.4m innovation centre to significantly reduce the Humber’s long term flood risk.

The establishment of the Flood Resilience Innovation Centre follows a successful bid for £1.9million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The centre will enable Humber-based small and medium sized enterprises develop innovative solutions to mitigate flood risk, improve response to flood events and increase resilience where complete flood prevention is impossible.

Flooding is a significant and growing problem regionally, nationally and internationally. Humberside is the second most flood-prone region in the UK, with 205,000 properties, 32,500 businesses and 115,000 hectares of land at risk of tidal, fluvial or surface water flooding. Across the wider UK, 5.2 million homes and other properties (more than one sixth of the total) are at risk of flooding.

Climate change and sea level rise projections suggest that our climate will become stormier, yielding more frequent heavy rainfall events, and that sea levels will rise by 0.35 m by 2060 and 1.0 m by 2110, exacerbating exposure to flooding into the future.

In response to these threats, and building on the University’s strengths in flood research, geosciences, climate change, logistics, computer science and engineering, the centre will help businesses identify research and development opportunities aimed at mitigating flood risk and improving resilience and response.

Businesses will be partnered with world-leading academics and researchers to undertake collaborative research and innovation projects. They will have access to state-of-the-art computer-aided design, high performance computing, rapid prototyping and immersion testing labs to develop their ideas. Collaborations may also involve large companies, other research organisations and agencies to maximise the benefit of investment in SME-led innovations.

Dr Rob Thomas, Senior Research Fellow in Geomorphology and Flood Risk at the University of Hull said: “Flooding presents an enormous risk to businesses in the Humber region, and that risk is only going to increase over the next few decades.

“Through establishing the Flood Resilience Innovation Centre, we hope to support the Humber region in becoming more resilient, developing innovative products and services to either prevent or mitigate against flood risk in the broadest sense and improve resilience and efficiency of response where and when flood events occur.

“The Flood Resilience Innovation Centre adds to the portfolio of programmes led by our Energy and Environment Institute that aim to address regional, national and global flood risk and resilience.”

Dr Maggie McGowan, Director of Research and Innovation at the University of Hull, added: “By significantly reducing the Humber’s long-term flood risk, our ambition is to mitigate against potential re-investment barriers for businesses and provide them with the confidence to further increase their financial investments and grow supply chains in the region, thus attracting future inward investment.

“In achieving this, we will promote the Humber Region as a safe and geographically advantageous location for business growth, and produce exportable products and services around flood resilience.”

The three-year project will initially focus on the Humber and other parts of England with European ‘Transition’ area status. It will then aim to broaden out to the national and international scale in the future.

The grant is one of a series of ERDF-funded projects at the University of Hull aimed at fostering innovation and developing an “innovation ecosystem” among businesses in the Humber region.