Research & Innovation

The Royal College of Art excels in world-leading design and art research and creative innovation.

The 2014 REF rated the Royal College of Art the most research-intensive specialist art and design institution in the UK, with a higher proportion of its research judged world-leading than any of its competitors. The QS World University Rankings 2015 rated the RCA the number 1 art and design university in the world, on the basis of its academic reputation, its reputation with employers, and the impact of its research.

The RCA’s research and knowledge exchange helps us advance our understanding of the influence and scope of creativity, and contribute to the broader global economy. Key to this is the ability to apply theories and methodologies to real-world issues, translate research findings into practice and work directly with academic, corporate, non-profit and government sectors.

In the field of human-centred design, the RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design is an international centre of information and expertise, attracting the world’s most knowledgeable and influential researchers and experts as well as key industry partners.

HEFCE reports that the RCA generates more university-owned start-ups than any other UK university. InnovationRCA is the RCA’s centre for incubation, knowledge exchange and business development and support, helping graduates transform compelling design-tech ideas into effective businesses. Successful start-ups include award-winning Loowatt, Kwikscreen and Seaboard.

The AHRC-funded knowledge exchange hub Creative Exchange (CX), a collaboration between the RCA, Lancaster University and Newcastle University, promotes design-led innovation in the digital public space.

The HEFCE-funded Healthcare Innovation Exchange Centre (HELIX), a collaboration between the RCA and Imperial College London, promotes low-cost, highly effective design-led innovations in healthcare and patient experience.

The Burberry Material Futures Research Group aims to inspire creativity and pioneer more sustainable materials and techniques in the UK creative industries through researching the future of sustainable future materials, consumer experience and manufacturing, through taking a systems approach to materials research. 

The cross-College Robotics Laboratory develops new robotic technologies enhancing access, safety and performance in a wide range of industrial applications, through projects funded by EPSRC UKRI, Innovate UK and MedTech SuperConnector.