Research & Innovation
The Royal College of Art excels in world-leading design and art research and creative innovation.
Our academic staff and research students undertake original research in art and design, generating tangible benefits for our quality of life, for the creative and cultural life of the UK and beyond, and for businesses, industry and public services.
The 2014 Research Excellence Framework 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 have ranked the RCA the number one art and design university in the world every year from 2015 to the present, a recognition based on the College’s academic reputation, its standing among employers and the impact of its research. And as UK universities prepare for a new Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), the RCA’s own Knowledge Exchange strategy has been cited by Research England as a model of good practice.
Schools and Research Centres
RCA staff and research students specialise in high-quality research in art and design that has substantial impact – in creative, cultural, social and economic terms – as well as global reach. Attracting millions of pounds of funding in research grants and from business and industry collaborations, RCA research spans the Schools of Architecture, Arts & Humanities, Communication and Design, as well as a growing number of interdisciplinary research centres:
- Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design an international leader in people-centred and inclusive design addressing pressing social challenges
- Healthcare Innovation Exchange (HELIX) Centre, a collaboration between the RCA and Imperial College London, based in a large NHS hospital in London. The HELIX Centre uses design-led approaches to translate research into innovative solutions addressing frontline healthcare challenges and embedding designers in a clinical environment
- Intelligent Mobility Design Centre, a multidisciplinary research centre working with major industry partners, including Hyundai-Kia, to explore design-led innovations addressing the future of transportation design and urban mobility
- Burberry Material Futures Research Group, applying design-led approaches alongside science, technology and engineering insights to develop innovations in sustainable and smart materials, to transform consumer experiences and advance manufacturing.
Our research continues to be funded by major funders including the UK Research Councils, Research England, InnovateUK, the European Commission (Horizon2020 and other programmes), Arts Council England, the NHS and other Government departments, Leverhulme Trust, Wellcome Trust, as well as by leading companies around the world, including Telefonica, Huawei, Karsan, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Thames & Hudson, Transport for London and Microsoft. See a full list of our funders, partners and supporters.
Our doctoral research students benefit from funded studentships, research training and research career development opportunities supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and other funders as well as by our business and industry partners. We are members of the following UKRI-funded doctoral training consortia:
- London Arts & Humanities Partnership (LAHP), an AHRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership between King’s College London, School of Advanced Study (University of London), University College London, Queen Mary University of London, the London School of Economics & Political Science, Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music.
- London Doctoral Design Centre (LDoc), a specialist AHRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training led by the RCA in partnership with Kingston University and the University of the Arts London
- TECHNE, a research funding and doctoral training partnership provides AHRC scholarships and training in London and the South-East.
Research & Innovation at the RCA
World-leading research with real-world impact
Bringing expertise from science, engineering and technology disciplines to bear on our world-leading research in art and design.
Incubation and acceleration programmes for recent graduates, consultancy and knowledge exchange, and custom executive short courses
Helping companies to innovate
Discover our range of MPhil and PhD degrees, and join a thriving community of postgraduate research students
Research at the RCA
Find out more about our research environment, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), and our research funders and global business partners.