The Durham Institute of Research, Development and Invention

The Durham Institute of Research, Development, and Invention (DIRDI) is a scientific research institute established in 2021 by Coltraco in partnership with Durham University and based at ORBIT NETPark, Durham. It includes within it the Centre for Underwater Acoustic Analysis (CUAA).

DIRDI is a research institute comprising of scientists at every stage of their careers, from undergraduates to Professors, Emeritus Professors and Senior Industrial Scientists. It brings together academics and industry professionals across disciplines, including Physicists, Engineers, Mathematicians, Bioscientists, Earth Scientists, and Computer Scientists.

In doing so, it offers some of the UK’s finest minds an opportunity to grapple with complex problems, in line with DIRDI’s Five Aims.

DIRDI's Five Aims

  1. To achieve “Newtonian Discovery”: fundamental research into the physical laws of the Universe, for the benefit of humankind
  2. To achieve “Edisonian Commercialisation”: applied research in acoustics, electromagnetism, and information engineering, enabling technological diversification, the proceeds from which will fund Objective 1
  3. To identify the “United Kingdom’s Next Newton” (whomever they may be)
  4. To create an environment at Durham University where future Nobel Prize Winners of Science may be identified early-stage in their undergraduate academic careers and nurtured through their postgraduate, post-doctoral, Associate Professor and Professorial careers. In time we may grow this into a national network of top Universities.
  5. To provide a gateway into academic research at Durham University for local people with inventions and inventive ideas, across the Northeast, so that their inventive ideas can be sifted, selected, realised and used to generate “economic hope” for many where there is currently so little for so few. In time we may also grow this nationally, since our belief is that inventive thought exists within everyone.

DIRDI’s Research

Research into areas such as acoustics, electromagnetism, and information engineering is supported by DIRDI’s unique position astride industry and academia. Our Fellows and Members bring world-leading expertise in their respective fields, which combines with the commercial experience of industry Fellows to provide a Research and Development capability “from idea to invention to innovation”.

While a key focus area of the institute is the science of instrumentation and systems, we encourage exploration across theoretical and practical domains. Our discussions, projects, and events are centred on this theme, though not exclusively bound by it.

This involves:

  • The scientific understanding of the stimulus, be it the physics of how sound behaves in a supercritical fluid, the biology of the human nervous system, or the chemistry of sea water, to name a few examples.
  • The physical understanding of the sensor, be it, for example, piezoelectric, chemical, photoelectric, or magnetic.
  • The electrical, mechanical, and material understanding required to design and develop an instrument or system.
  • The informational, computational, and mathematical understanding required to process the data and communicate it in a useful quantitative or qualitative manner.

How DIRDI Functions

Unlike typical research institutes, DIRDI is primarily commercially funded. Through the rapid commercialisation of promising R&D lines, the freedom to explore fundamental science is sustained. Without the inhibitors of prescribed grant-seeking processes and the pressure to produce publishable results, DIRDI members are encouraged to pursue blue-skies, curiosity-driven research with the utmost scientific integrity.

It is the faith that such research will drive world-changing, prosperity-generating innovation that will enable unconstrained funding. In the years to come, DIRDI aspires to grow and nurture its members throughout their academic and commercial careers, identifying and supporting the “Newtons” and Nobel Prize winners of the future, and delivering a critical mass of new research and scholarship.

Throughout the academic year, DIRDI hosts a number of events to bring together Members, Fellows, and Visiting Fellows. These include bi-termly dinners at Hatfield College, Durham, and elsewhere, the annual “Impact and Invention” Conference, the EEOPS-D drone competition, and a variety of seminars and talks. None of these events are compulsory to attend, and all are complimentary.

DIRDI’s Membership

DIRDI hosts over 250 Members, Fellows, and Visiting Fellows from 11 universities, industrial collaborators, and various other organisations. There are multiple ways to join DIRDI, designed to support an academic network with a range of experiences to provide leading research capabilities and to nurture young and developing scientists.