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2023 Birmingham Decarbonisation Summer School

Aerial shot of HydroFLEX, the UK’s first hydrogen train

What is it?

The Birmingham Decarbonisation Summer School is a five-day event that will bring doctoral and postdoctoral researchers together to propose a technical solution and business model for a decarbonisation challenge. Accepted applicants will be pooled into interdisciplinary teams of up to 5 members each and will compete by pitching their proposal to a judging panel by the end of the summer school. The winning team will receive a lot of kudos and a £500 prize to be split amongst the team members (up to £100 per person, this may take the form of vouchers).

The summer school will focus this year on decarbonising a railway service in the UK. We are partnering with Ricardo plc, a leading engineering consultancy, who will present the challenge and put you in the seat of a consultant for the week. There will be plenty of technical talks by academics and industry experts to better familiarise attendees with the challenges facing railway decarbonisation. Lastly, a social programme and team building activities are planned to ensure a fun week for all!

This event is sponsored and supported by ERA, C-DICE, N8 NIST-CS, Ricardo plc, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), and the University of Birmingham IEEE Student Branch.


Day 1 – Getting On-Track

  • Meet your team members
  • Ricardo presents the summer school challenge
  • Seminars about rail electrification and green projects appraisal
  • Walk together towards Westmere House (on-campus) for the welcome reception

Day 2 – Seminars Day

  • Seminars about rail traction, rail operations and EDI
  • Team time for brainstorming
  • Dinner in Birmingham city centre (sponsored by Ricardo)

Day 3 – Developing your Concepts

  • Seminars by experts from Ricardo about air quality and battery-powered trains
  • Time to work on your proposals

Day 4 – Building your Pitch

  • Seminar on how to build and present a pitch
  • Time to work on your proposals
  • Time to work on your pitch

Day 5 – The Pitch

  • Meet the judges and present your pitch
  • Winners will be announced followed by a celebratory lunch

When, where?

Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, University of Birmingham from the 24 of July till the 28 of July. Given that participants will be put into teams, participation is possible in-person only in order to guarantee an engaging experience for everyone involved.


Doctoral and postdoctoral researchers of all disciplines across the ERA, C-DICE and N8 networks are eligible to apply for this summer school. Please check if your institution (university) is a partner of any of these networks, list of universities is here.

If you are a postdoctoral researcher at a UK university that is not one of these partner, or work in industry, but would like to join the summer school, please contact Lennie Foster (  to arrange for a preliminary meeting to discuss the alignment of interests. You can apply if this is indicated after the meeting.

Applications are now closed!

Support available to summer school post-doc participants


Registration opens24 March
Info webinar – register here.28 April
Application deadline10 May
Notification to applicants24 May
Deadline for applicant acceptance31 May
Summer School24 – 28 July

List of Eligible Universities

Post-docs and PhD students from the following institutions can apply to take part in the summer school:

  • Aston University
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • Cranfield University
  • Durham University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Heriot Watt University
  • Keele University
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Liverpool
  • Loughborough University
  • University of Manchester
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • UCL
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

In addition to the universities above, researchers at the following universities, who are funded by the Faraday Institution or Alan Turing Institute can also access this opportunity.

  • Bath
  • Exeter
  • Imperial
  • Oxford
  • Portsmouth
  • Queen Mary
  • St Andrews
  • Surrey
Organised and sponsored by ERA, C-DICE, N8 NIST-CS, Ricardo plc, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), and the University of Birmingham IEEE Student Branch.