The Burberry Foundation has awarded 3 million pounds to the Royal College of Art in order to establish a new research group, namely the Burberry Material Futures Research Group.
The grant sees the British heritage fashion house expanding on its Design Scholarship Fund, a move which is in line with Burberry’s new five-year responsibility agenda. The new group is set to become the first explicit Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics research center at a traditional art and design university. It aims to apply radical thinking to invent more sustainable materials and transform both the consumer experience and advance manufacturing for the industry.
The grant also includes 750,000 pounds to expand the existing Burberry Design Scholarship currently in place at the RCA, helping more students from the UK and EU reach their full potential regardless of their financial circumstances. “I am thrilled that the Burberry Foundation can support the establishment of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group at the Royal College of Art,” commented Christopher Bailey, a trustee of the Burberry Foundation and Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer, Burberry.
“The Group will cover a broad scope of work, from researching and developing more innovative sustainable materials to designing new manufacturing methods, as well as nurturing and supporting even more British-trained design talent. This new partnership also reflects Burberry’s heritage. The company’s founder, Thomas Burberry, was himself a material innovator. He invented the breathable, water resistant and hardwearing gabardine fabric in 1879 that is still the cornerstone of our brand today.”
The grant and development of the new research group marks a significant change in Burberry’s approach to responsibility issues, which is set to focus on three goals over the next five years. This includes supporting 1 million people in communities that sustain Burberry’s business, ensuring 100 percent of Burberry’s products have at least one element that drives positive change and inventing new approaches to revaluing waste created during the manufacturing process of luxury goods.
Burberry notes that the grant from the Burberry Foundation complements its existing relationship with the RCA and strengthens their shared interest in material science and technological innovation. “The establishment of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group is an exciting step in incorporating the future of materials science into our research and teaching,” added Dr Paul Thompson, Rector of the Royal College of Art. “From its founding days, Burberry has pioneered high-performance materials, becoming one of Britain’s most successful and dynamic global companies.”
“Over the last six years the Burberry Design Scholarships have been invaluable in supporting students, and the expansion of these scholarships will ensure the Royal College of Art can continue to generate outstanding creative talent in the UK.” The new Burberry Material Futures Research Group is set to deliver the academic vision for materials science research outlined in the RCA’s strategic plan 2016–2021 and will act as a virtual center until it moves to a permanent home in the RCA’s new building in Battersea in 2020.
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