Ambitious global plans for European partnership

Global news

A major European research partnership is to expand its collaborative projects to help tackle pressing global issues.

The University of Leeds has, over a number of years, forged a strong relationship with Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) – one of Europe’s largest research and educational institutions.

In 2019 a memorandum of understanding between the two further strengthened a commitment to sharing and exchanging ideas, knowledge and opportunities.

Since then a range of projects and events has enabled the partnership to take advantage of world-leading expertise at both institutions.

These include the Portable Ice Nucleation Experiment (PINE) – a mobile cloud chamber developed as part of a long-standing research collaboration between Leeds’ Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science and KIT’s Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research.

Developed by two of Europe’s most renowned research institutes for atmospheric science, PINE examines the mechanisms of cloud and precipitation formation to reliably predict weather forecasts and climate modelling.

Global network

The researchers behind PINE now aim to establish a global network of instruments to report measurements for global weather and climate models. 

Further joint research projects are planned in a variety of areas, including chemistry, health and transport.

Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Leeds’ Principal Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “Tackling the world’s most pressing challenges can only be achieved by strong and committed partnerships.

“Our work with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology is a striking example of this. Since signing the memorandum of understanding, we have been working ever closer in order to ensure that our collaborative approach to sharing research and education has a tangible impact at a global level.

“Developing these crucial European partnerships is also key to unlocking future funding, as the UK’s access to and relationship with European research funding bodies remains unclear.”

New collaborations with KIT, which is located close to the Rhine on Germany’s border with France, include polymer chemistry – in particular, a project developing technologies which exploit machine learning combined with 3D-printed reactors for developing the next generation of polymers and plastics.

The research was originally carried out at Leeds, with an equivalent system now being constructed and undergoing preliminary tests at KIT. A PhD researcher from KIT has also visited Leeds to learn about the software and techniques involved and, as a result, the German institution is preparing new components via 3D printing which will be tested in Leeds.

Tackling the world’s most pressing challenges can only be achieved by strong and committed partnerships.

Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Principal Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Leeds

Other joint projects include Leeds’ Institute for Transport Studies and KIT’s Institute of Human and Industrial Engineering working together to help make autonomous vehicles safer.

Leeds and KIT have also co-hosted an international panel focused on the better forecasting of extreme weather and climate disasters in Africa, where 60% of the population are currently without early warning systems.

New joint student mobility and entrepreneurship activities are also under discussion between Leeds and KIT, with an academic exchange visit to KIT planned for early in 2023.

Professor Thomas Hirth, Vice-President for Transfer and International Affairs at KIT, said: “The University of Leeds is a very important partner of KIT in the UK and Europe. This is reflected by the large range of topics covered by our increasingly close collaboration in research, academic education and transfer.

“The partnership supported and funded by both institutions provides an excellent framework for the development of new types of collaboration. In this way, the University of Leeds and KIT will be able to jointly contribute to solving the global challenges of the future.”

Leeds’ partnership with KIT is part of a broader University focus on strengthening relationships with key European research and educational institutions.

In February 2022, Leeds’ International Strategy Board endorsed plans to develop institutional partnerships with a number of target European university partners to further build on existing collaboration in teaching and research.

Further information

Image: Adobe Stock.

For further details, please contact Ian Rosser in the Press Office at the University of Leeds by email on