Burberry and the Royal College of Art have established the Burberry Material Futures Research Group, supported by a £3 million grant from The Burberry Foundation. According to the RCA, this will be the first explicit STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) research centre to exist at a traditional art and design university. It will focus on inventing sustainable materials, transforming consumer experience and advancing manufacturing “for the benefit of industry and the wider community".
The grant includes £750,000 to expand the existing Burberry Design Scholarship at the RCA, eligible to students from the UK and EU.
“The mission of the Burberry Foundation is to take a long-term approach to promoting the STEAM agenda,” the company writes in a statement, “tackling educational inequality, reducing waste and supporting social and economic development.” It is the first in a series of grants to the RCA to be announced this year.
It comes as part of the brand’s new “responsibility agenda”, targeting needs that are closely linked to, or a direct impact of, the footprint of the industry or company. Part of the agenda is dedicated to material innovation, to revalue waste created in the production of luxury goods.
Christopher Bailey, chief creative and chief executive officer at Burberry, commented: “The group will cover a broad scope of work, from researching and developing more innovative sustainable materials to designing new manufacturing methods, as well as nurturing and supporting even more British-trained design talent.”