Skip navigation

Northumbria and Ryder Architecture win award for most innovative collaboration

1st December 2017

Northumbria University and Ryder have been recognised as the UK’s most innovative collaboration between a business and a university in the Times Higher Education Awards.

The University and Ryder began collaborating seven years ago to develop a specialist centre of excellence for digital engineering and transformation, forming BIM Academy, which provides consultancy, research and education activities on Building Information Modelling to global clients.

This innovative approach has been recognised with the award for Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration, sponsored by the National Centre for Universities and Business. The award is presented to the business that demonstrates the most imaginative and effective ‘game-changing’ partnership with an institution which has led to significant long-term benefits to the business, the university and the economy.

Times Higher Award - Northumbria and Ryder

Through BIM Academy, Northumbria academics and graduates work with Ryder to support the digital transformation of the construction industry through Building Information Modelling. BIM Academy provides independent research-based expertise combined with practical industry experience which helps clients transform their businesses through the intelligent application of smart processes and digital technologies.

Thanks to the success of the partnership, BIM Academy has been commissioned to work on high-profile development projects in Europe, the Middle and Far East and Australasia including the Sydney Opera House and Hong Kong’s M+ Museum. Most recently, it has been commissioned to provide BIM support to the Chinese creator of Forest City, a US$100 billion development off the coast of Malaysia, near Singapore.

Described as the ‘Oscars of UK higher education’, the Times Higher Education Awards attract entries from universities that exemplify talent, dedication and innovation across all aspects of university life.

Judges particularly praised the partnership for bringing vital competitive advantage to the UK construction industry.

Professor Glen McHale, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engineering and Environment at Northumbria University, said: “BIM Academy is one of our shining examples of truly innovative partnership working which has brought huge benefits to all involved. Our students and staff have benefitted from being able to apply their teaching and research into real-life contexts; our partners at Ryder have benefitted from the leading-edge research knowledge within the University, and of course, our clients have benefitted from this excellent combination of skills to transform their businesses.

“We were shortlisted against some excellent collaborative partnerships and are delighted that the judges recognised how distinctive our work in this area has been over the past seven years.

Peter Barker, partner at Ryder and managing director of BIM Academy, said: “It is very rewarding to see that our team’s hard work has paid off in growing our joint venture to be an internationally successful commercial business, as well as a centre of academic research excellence for the digital construction sector.”

Last month, BIM Academy was also recognised at the BT Dynamites17 awards, winning the international success award for its work in delivering building information modelling consultancy and research to clients across the world.

Northumbria University was also shortlisted for the coveted University of the Year title which recognised institutions which had exemplary performance during the 2015/16 academic year and which showed commitment to bold, imaginative and innovative initiatives.

For more information visit

Pictured L-R: Awards host, comedian Al Murray; Graham Kelly of BIM Academy and Adriaan Commandeur, Director of the National Centre for Universities and Business.

comments powered by Disqus


a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

NU World

Explore NU World

Find out what life here is all about. From studying to socialising, term time to downtime, we’ve got it covered.

Latest News and Features

Sara Hurley, Architecture student and Peter Holgate, Associate Professor in Architecture and Built Environment at Northumbria University
Man sketching design plans on paper. Photo credit: Akin Kaelyn/Shutterstock
Two people by Converge information stand
the images show the ICOS Auchencorth Moss station near Edinburgh.
English pub

Back to top