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N8 Research Partnership
TypeConsortium of United Kingdom-based universities
Registration no.05920709[1]
Legal statusPrivate company limited by shares
Region served
Northern England
Durham University
Lancaster University
University of Leeds
University of Liverpool
University of Manchester
Newcastle University
University of Sheffield
University of York
OwnersMember universities
Vice-Chancellors of the member universities

The N8 Research Partnership is a partnership created in 2006 of the eight most research-intensive universities in Northern EnglandDurham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York. The N8 Research Partnership aims to maximise the impact of this research base by identifying and co-ordinating powerful research teams and collaborations across the North of England. Collectively, the N8 universities undertake more than £650 million of research income per annum and employ over 18,000 academic staff, thus forming the largest research-pooling partnership ever undertaken in the UK.[2] The N8 Research Partnership also works closely with industry.[3]


The N8 Research Partnership initially focused on five areas of research: Ageing and Health, Energy, Molecular Engineering, Regenerative Medicine and Water. The themes were chosen to build on existing research within the partnership which had the potential for economic and social benefit.

In March 2007, the N8 Research Partnership was awarded grant funding of £6 million from The Northern Way Growth Fund to set up 'virtual' collaborative Research Centres around each of these themes.[4]

Today, the N8 Research Partnership's main research themes include: Bioeconomy,[5] Urban Transformation [6] including Policing,[7] Digital Creativity,[8] and AgriFood Resilience.[9][10]

In 2015, multimillion-pound funding was awarded to N8 Research Partnership, to advance AgriFood Resilience, and Policing, research areas across N8 institutions and with partners.[11][12][13]

N8 has become a leader in equipment sharing, having launched a project to map the research equipment across universities in the North, and has published a toolkit and a white paper to point the way to greater collaboration between universities and improved research links with industry.[14] A toolkit, and database, have been developed to advance this area nationally.[15][16]

The N8's key aim of fostering greater collaboration with industry was boosted in January 2012 when the N8 Industry Innovation Forum launched. There have to date been five IIF meetings focused on topics where there is significant cross-sector, industry-led demand for new insights and research capability on topics such as advanced materials, Food Security, and Active and Healthy Ageing. New collaboration ideas emerging from these have generated £10 million of external funding including £3 million from industry partners.[17]

Another development was the launch of the N8 High Performance Computing facility in March 2013 (now the N8 Centre of Excellence in Computationally Intensive Research; N8 CIR). This provides industry and university researchers with access to high performance computing alongside consultancy and e-infrastructure training. The original HPC supercomputer, hosted at the University of Leeds, was capable of performing 110 trillion operations per second, the equivalent of half a million iPads.[18][19][20][21] In 2020 the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council granted £3.1 million funding to a new supercomputer, the Northern Intensive Computing Environment (NICE), to be hosted by Durham University on behalf of the N8 Research Partnership.[22] The overall cost of the new supercomputer is £8.4 million, with the balance being provided by the N8 universities. NICE will be a tier-2 supercomputer built on 32 IBM Power 9 dual-CPU nodes, each having 4 NVIDIA V100 GPUs.[23]

The N8 continues to drive innovation opportunities across the North of England, coordinating proposals and fostering new innovation ideas.[24]


Locations of N8 Research Partnership universities.

The eight universities in the N8 Research Partnership are all located in Northern England. They represent all of the pre-1992 universities in the region except for the University of Hull. Five of the members are civic universities founded as university colleges in the second half of the nineteenth century, two are collegiate campus plate glass universities founded in the 1960s, and one is a pre-Victorian collegiate university founded in the first half of the nineteenth century. They range in size from around 13,000 students to just under 40,000, and in annual income from a few hundred million pounds to over a billion. Seven of the N8 universities (all except Lancaster) are members of the Russell Group, and all were in the top 25 of Research Fortnight's research power table based on the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (where Lancaster was the highest ranked non-Russell Group institution).[25]

The three N8 institutions in Yorkshire (Leeds, Sheffield and York) also collaborate in the White Rose University Consortium.

Between them, the N8 universities educate over 190,000 students, including 17,000 studying for a research degree, and have a combined research income of over £1.2 billion. A report in 2016, commissioned by the group, demonstrated that they bring in £12.2 billion to the regional economy each year and generate 119,000 jobs across the North of England.[26]

University Undergraduate students (2019/20)[27] Postgraduate students (2019/20)[27] Total students (2019/20)[27] Total academic staff (2014/15)[28] Total income
(2014/15, £ millions)[29]
Research income
(2014/15, £ millions)[29]
North East England
Durham University 14,730 4,790 19,520 1,690 328 62
Newcastle University 21,300 6,775 28,070 2,800 488 123
North West England
Lancaster University 11,405 4,260 15,665 1,735 229 33
University of Liverpool 22,690 6,910 29,600 2,720 511 102
University of Manchester 26,630 13,855 40,485 4,945 1,010 262
Yorkshire and the Humber
University of Leeds 25,955 10,370 36,330 3,290 640 152
University of Sheffield 19,100 10,955 30,055 3,090 578 158
University of York 14,075 5,715 19,790 1,675 340 61


  1. ^ "N8 Limied". Companies House. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  2. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "About Us – N8 Research Partnership".
  3. ^ Niven, Rosie (20 March 2015). "Peter Simpson of N8: 'deep collaboration is now the norm' – Efficiency Exchange".
  4. ^ "Launch of N8 Research Centres".[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "Research Community: Industrial Biotechnology for the Bioeconomy – N8 Research Partnership".
  6. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "Research Theme: Urban & Community Transformation – N8 Research Partnership".
  7. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "Policing Research – N8 Research Partnership".
  8. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "Research Community: Digital Creativity – N8 Research Partnership".
  9. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "Research Theme: AgriFood – N8 Research Partnership".
  11. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Minister announces funding award".
  14. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "N8 Efficiency – N8 Research Partnership".
  15. ^ "N8 Equipment". N8 Equipment.
  16. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "N8IIF – N8 Research Partnership".
  18. ^ "N8 HPC showcased to boost collaboration with industry".
  19. ^ "HPC". Archived from the original on 8 November 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  20. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "N8 High Performance Computing – N8 Research Partnership".
  21. ^ "N8HPC".
  22. ^ "Durham to host new national supercomputer". Durham University. 17 February 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  23. ^ "Northern Intensive Computing Environment". N8 Centre of Excellence in Computationally Intensive Research. 17 February 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  24. ^ Partnership, N8 Research. "All News Archives – N8 Research Partnership". N8 Research Partnership.
  25. ^ "University Research Excellence Framework 2014 – the full rankings". The Guardian. 17 December 2014.
  26. ^ "The Power of 8". N8 Research Partnership. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  27. ^ a b c "Where do HE students study?". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  28. ^ "2014/115 Staff by HE provider". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Archived from the original (XLSX) on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  29. ^ a b "What's the Balance? UK Institutions' Finances, 2014–15" (PDF). Times Higher Education. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.