Global research

Our world-class research is focused on addressing global challenges and delivering benefits for society.

The University has been awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize, the highest honour in UK education, four times since 1994; for example, in 2019 for its pioneering research in Extreme Social Disadvantage and, most recently, in the field of Photonics in 2021.

The application of our research, through innovation and enterprise, is in Heriot-Watt's DNA and how we make an impact in the world.

Global Research Institutes

Our Global Research Institutes are centres of excellence and collaboration, created to address the global challenges we face; by leveraging our global reach, our significant international collaborations and our long-standing connectivity to business and industry. Our two existing Global Research Institutes are flourishing:

The National Robotarium – the largest and most advanced applied research facility, for robotics and artificial intelligence in the UK, opened in 2021 and already has:

  • five resident start up businesses in place, providing 50+ high skilled jobs
  • an engineering and operations team of 30
  • over 10,000 young learners engaged in events, visits, and virtual live lessons
  • sectors engaged include: agriculture, construction, health, pharmaceutical manufacturing, utilities, aerospace, fisheries, social care and renewable energy.

The Lyell Centre - established in 2016, this multidisciplinary centre is addressing global challenges associated with the Earth’s surface, sub-surface, oceans and atmosphere. Key research areas include: deep-sea ecology, applied geosciences, energy capture, fisheries and seafood sustainability, seabird ecology and conservation, ocean wellbeing and governance of the sea.

Researchers are generating knowledge and exploring practical, responsible solutions to major environmental challenges, making a difference to society and communities across the world; and focusing on research-informed teaching of the scientists of tomorrow.

Future focus

Two exciting new Global Research Institutes are being launched in 2023 and 2024. These interdisciplinary power-houses of expertise will boost our existing portfolio related to Net Zero and medical technology, to focus on:

  • achieving Net Zero and Beyond, through the transition to a net-zero economy
  • addressing the needs of future generations with Health and Care Technologies.

Impact is the evidence of research that has already made a difference - whether to people, policy or the world around us. Have a look at our impact case studies to see how we're changing lives.