Burberry and the Royal College of Art have established the Burberry Material Futures Research Group, supported by a £3 million grant from the Burberry Foundation.
The grant also includes £750,000 to expand the existing Burberry design scholarship at the RCA, enabling more students from the UK and EU to reach their full potential regardless of their financial circumstances. The mission of the Burberry Foundation is to take a long-term approach to promoting the STEAM agenda, tackling educational inequality, reducing waste and supporting social and economic development. The grant to the Royal College of Art is the first in a series to be announced during 2017.
The group is the first explicit ‘STEAM’ research centre at a traditional art and design university, applying radical thinking to invent more sustainable materials and transform consumer experience. STEAM denotes Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.
These grants are also in line with Burberry’s new responsibility agenda. The agenda marks a significant step change in the company’s approach to responsibility issues and will focus on three ambitious goals over the next five years – support one million people in the communities that sustain Burberry’s business and the wider luxury industry, ensure 100 per cent of Burberry’s products have at least one element that drives positive change and invent new approaches to revaluing waste created in the production of luxury goods, whilst becoming carbon neutral in its own operations.
Burberry focused on specific needs that are closely linked to, or a direct impact of, the footprint of the industry or the company itself. The grant from the Burberry Foundation to establish the Burberry Material Futures Research Group complements Burberry’s existing relationship with the RCA and their shared interest in material science and technological innovation.
The Burberry Material Futures Research Group will deliver the academic vision for materials science research outlined in the RCA’s strategic plan 2016-2021. The group will act as a virtual centre until it moves to a permanent home in the RCA’s new building in Battersea, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, scheduled to open in 2020.