Engineering Design

A 5-year EPSRC funded collaborative research programme to explore radical new engineering design systems using bio-inspired methodologies

Click here to see the RIED Design Process in Action

A 5-year EPSRC funded collaborative research programme to explore radical new engineering design systems using bio-inspired methodologies.

Click to see the RIED Design Process in Action

Programme overview

Since 2017, our three partner institutions of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), the University of York (UY) and Loughborough University (LU) have been driving exciting innovations in design and manufacturing through a range of earlier related EPSRC funded Projects described here.

Nature analogous processes are being used where designs grow from ‘cyber-seeds’ that contain all the necessary knowledge to create the design. The emerging designs adapt and learn as they develop, producing variants appropriate to the environment (QUB, UY). Likewise, intelligent sensing and actuation at component level is also allowing the manufacturing system to demonstrate self-organisation and adaptability (LU). The partners realised that bringing these advances together would allow exploration of ideas that span from design concept through to manufactured product, service or system. Hence RIED was born.

At QUB, bio-inspired systems that are radically changing the process of structural design were being integrated with manufacturing, creating cloud-based manufacturing services (EP/N005813/1 : Design the Future – In Search of Design Genes and EP/R003564/1 : Biohaviour – Building the Blind Watchmaker Project)

At UY electronic systems design was being reimagined in the robotics arena (EP/K040820/1 : Bio-inspired Adaptive Architectures and Systems).

At LU embedded intelligent systems have considered aspects of developing products and processes that can demonstrate adaptation and learning i.e. in terms of self – organising, adapting, configuring, and healing (EP/P027482/1: Embedded Integrated Intelligent Systems for Manufacturing).


Interoperability – CPS Design Theory: How can we generate ideas and concepts rapidly such that artefacts are designed concurrently with manufacturing systems to create resilient extended enterprises with open communication throughout the whole system?


The Cyber World – CPS Modelling Design & Manufacture: How can we represent concepts virtually such that key design characteristics driving intended behaviour are understood, coded and realised via robust, intelligently manufactured product variants?


The Physical World – CPS Concept to Reality: What verification and validation concepts are needed to find the shortest and most beneficial pathway to physical realisation aided by a cyber-physical-socio manufacturing ecosystem?


The Socio World – CPS The Extended Manufacturing Enterprise: How can we translate and exploit concepts in new organisational structures within a cyber-physical-socio ecosystem to accelerate evolution of design solutions across extended enterprises?

Our Team

Our academic team covers diverse career stages, background and experience, including PhD Students, Post-Doctoral Research Assistants of various levels of experience and early career, established and senior advanced academics across the three institutions. This team have been supported in some 70 EPSRC projects worth £112m with current EPSRC support of more than £17m.

As of March 2024, our Team includes 32 members, including 23 full and part time members and 9 PhD Students. The numbers are planned to grow to circa 32 members of staff and 14 PhD Students across the three Institutions over the life of the Programme.

Details and links to the team member biographies and photographs can be found via Our Team.

Key roles –

Professor Mark Price is the Principal Investigator and QUB Institutional lead.

Professor Andy Tyrrell is the UoY Institutional and Thread 1 Lead.

Professor Trevor Robinson (QUB) is the Thread 2 Lead.

Professor Paul Conway is the Loughborough Institutional and Thread 3 Lead

Professor Yan Jin (QUB) is the Thread 4 Lead.

The role of EPSRC, our Industrial Partners and our Boards

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is one of nine research Councils within the UK RI which was launched in April 2018 as a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). EPSRC itself is the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK. The diverse portfolio ranges from digital technologies to clean energy, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry.

EPSRC invests in world-leading research and skills to advance knowledge and deliver a sustainable, resilient and prosperous UK. It supports new ideas and transformative technologies which are the foundations of innovations that improve our economy, environment and society. In partnership and co-investing with industry, EPSRC works to deliver both national and global priorities.

In December 2020, EPSRC as our funding body awarded the RIED Programme a major grant towards the total cost of the Programme. EPSRC also have nominated a member of the UKRI staff a Project Officer, to be our primary point of contact to ensure RIED is being ran in accordance with the terms and conditions and in line with financial due diligence. EPSRC have been fundamental in the design and development of our overall Programme Governance Structure.

Project Code: EP/V007335/1

Our Industrial Partners

We have ten world class industrial partners on this programme. Our co-creators and founding industrial partners have been partnering with our teams over a long period too. The partnership is drawn across sectors and ranging from high value low volume products to mass produced consumer goods. The focus of partners also spans from technology providers to end users, providing the programme with a broad range of industrial challenges, a natural support network and direct routes for impact emerging from the research work.

Access to the Partner websites is provided by the logos below.

Our Governance Structure and Boards

The RIED Programme will address its vision through its research objectives, mapped onto a coordinated program of the four research Threads. The Threads address thematic challenges that will develop over time. The management structure as shown is designed to promote close collaboration, integration and cross fertilisation of research, engage our industrial partners and ensure the future dissemination and impact activities while investing in and developing our Programme team members.

The 6-monthly Strategic Governance Board (SGB), led by an Independent Chair provides the effective strategic leadership to the overall RIED team as per its Terms of Reference.

The annual International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB), also led by an Independent Chair is drawn from leading international organisations and academia. It reviews and monitors the scientific aspects of the programme and advises the SGB on the scientific direction.

The 6-monthly Industrial Collaborators Forum (ICF) reviews the programme activity and outputs and advises the SGB on strategic direction to address the industrial challenges. It provides inputs to the low TRL activities and makes recommendations on technology translation. The ICF Partners will champion Exemplars and agree the associated capabilities to be developed through Agile Sprints.

The quarterly Operations Team Review (OTR) ensures all groups communicate and work coherently, it monitors the progress of the Thread Work Packages and the Agile Capability Sprints, and it focuses on deliverables, recommends changes to Work Packages, resources and staff allocation. It sets the Agenda for the ISAB and Strategic Board meetings and has responsibility for creativity, commissioning feasibility studies, risk management and horizon scanning for opportunities. The OTR also oversees the Capability Challenge Framework and its priorities.

The bi-monthly Investing in People Team (IiPT) has responsibility for the implementation of EDI strategy, team building activities, people and team development plans and associated capability.

The Outreach & Impact Team (O&IT) identifies opportunities for impact, helps enhance significance and curates the knowledge repository.

The quarterly Functional Thread Meetings monitor progress relative to research level challenges, objectives and plans. They encourage cross-thread integration and interoperability activity; new research avenues; feasibility studies; additional research partner engagement etc. They are supported by monthly PI/Thread Lead Integration Meeting. The Operations Reviews, now quarterly, provide operational guidance and input to the OTR.

The Agile Sprint Process Meetings oversee the delivery of the Capability Challenges for Exemplars