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Lab4Living awarded £4m for world-leading design research

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Sheffield Hallam University's Lab4Living has been awarded £4m in recognition of its design-led research by Research England.

Lab4Living was established 12 years ago as part of the Art and Design Research Centre and is a multi-disciplinary research group, based on a collaborative community of researchers in design, healthcare and creative practices.

The team works together to address real world issues that impact on health and wellbeing, developing products, services and interventions that promote dignity and enhance quality of life, and has gone onto undertake research leading to global award winning products and innovations.

The grant, part of Research England's Expanding Excellence in England (E3) research fund, will go towards supporting design-led research projects that explore the '100 year life', with particular focus on the 'Future Home'.

Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: “Pushing the boundaries of knowledge and conquering new innovations are what our universities are known for the world over. This programme led by Sheffield Hallam University will look at how we can all live healthy and productive lives in our aging society.

“The Expanding Excellence in England Fund will support projects throughout England to master new and developing areas of research and industry.

“Made possible through our record R&D spend delivered by our modern Industrial Strategy, the investment will support researchers to develop solutions and opportunities for UK researchers and businesses.”

Professor Paul Chamberlain, co-director of Lab4Living alongside Dr Claire Craig, said: "One in three children born in the UK today can expect to live to be 100 - and by 2066 one in two children will reach this milestone*. This growing life expectancy opens up critically important research space for creative practitioners and designers across the fields of industrial design, fashion, graphics, film media and creative practice.

"We need to look at what this expanded life-span will mean for where and how people live; what products will they use; what are the implications for health care, communities, and of course the home. These are some of the questions and challenges we will be addressing in the Future Home project.

"From ground-breaking research to extensive and pioneering training programmes, Lab4Living, and the University as a whole, is a national leader in creating innovative solutions that enable healthier lives."

To support the project, Lab4Living will be recruiting eight full-time PhD studentships as well as developing international partnerships in Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Claire Craig
Professor Paul Chamberlain

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Lab4Living will also host up to ten international scholars, and will fund more than 20 individual projects within the context of the 'Future Home', led by the research group alongside international partners.

The team is also set to instigate a Design4Ageing academy which will focus on the research projects for the 'Future Home'.

Dr Claire Craig added: "The award is a wonderful acknowledgement of the work and talent of an exceptional team. It is both recognition of the role of design research in affecting societal change and an endorsement by the leading national research funding body of the quality of research that is being undertaken within Lab4Living." 

The Research England Expanding Excellence in research fund (E3) is aimed specifically at supporting the strategic expansion of excellent research units and departments in higher education institutes across England. Institutions had to apply for the funding with Lab4Living selected as one of just 13 research groups selected, which was announced by Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, at the Higher Education Policy Institute annual conference.

Across the UK, government is providing the biggest boost to research and development funding in UK history, as part of the ambition to raise the level of R&D funding to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

This investment comes as part of the Expanding Excellence in England Fund supporting England’s world-leading universities to shape new innovations in our economy and provide the skills to support the highly skilled jobs of the future.


*ONS 2018

For press information: Tim Ward in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 5220 or email