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Free Access for Early Career Academic Researchers

Researcher Mobility Initiative:


The NWTF was set up in 2014 using funding from EPSRC and ATI to create a network of world class wind tunnel facilities. This much needed investment in infrastructure had an immediate transformative impact which facilitated the continuation of high-quality research.  Typically, research access is funded through grants.  Alternatively, the facilities can be hired directly with the cost depending on the test requirements and facilities accessed. To date, this approach has successfully enabled hundreds of researchers from both academia and industry to undertake cutting edge research.

Next Steps:

The NWTF is looking to build on its success with a variety of initiatives, details of which can be found  here. We are particularly keen to improve researcher mobility and widen the potential number of people who can access these facilities.  Thus, we have launched a Researcher Mobility initiative with the following objectives:

  1. Inclusivity: we wish to enhance inclusivity by making it as easy as possible for academics outside the NWTF to use the facilities.
  2. Remove bureaucracy: we understand the importance of undertaking proof of concept work prior to applying for large research grants, and we are committed to enabling academics from outside the NWTF to have the ability to test ideas quickly.
  3. Knowledge exchange: the best ideas arise from collaborations and sharing expertise.  Hence, we see this as a key feature of all the work undertaken by the NWTF.
  4. Connectivity: we want to dismantle barriers to ensure that researchers and facilities are more connected irrespective of their geographic locations.
  5. Promotion: we are keen to disseminate the research undertaken and see part of the NWTFs’ duties is to promote (and maximise) the availability and use of our wind tunnels.

Stage 1 of initiative: to foster the above, each NTWF member has agreed to provide, on a trial basis, a number of days of free access per year to their facilities.  (Travel and subsistence as well as experimental consumables will need to be covered by the researcher or their institution).  The cost of this access is being borne by NTWF members. 

Stage 2 of initiative: we are keen to scale up this initiative and NWTF is in the process of applying for external funding to enable this to be implemented. If successful, we would very much like to see increased usage from early-stage researchers.

This initiative effectively provides a playground for researchers to test out ideas with the minimum of bureaucracy and to de-risk grant applications for larger research programmes.

Stage 1 Terms and Conditions:

  1. Interested academic researchers are to contact the NWTF project manager to discuss test requirements and test facilities. Contact details are here.
  2. Free access is available for university research and researchers only.
  3. Free access is not available for industrial research or researchers.
  4. Free access is available to early career researchers only. Early career researchers (ECRs) are generally PhD students and/or PDRAs.
  5. Researchers must be UK based.
  6. Researchers must be applying for tunnel use outside their own institution.
  7. Travel and subsistence costs won’t be met by NWTF at this stage. (This may be available for stage 2 of the initiative if grant application is successful).
  8. Wind tunnels will be made available at the discretion of the NWTF management board.
  9. Application does not guarantee access.
  10. Wind tunnel application will be assessed by the NWTF management board and tunnel managers to determine if the NWTF is the best place for the test.
  11. NWTF may suggest attending a NWTF training workshop in advance of tunnel use if needed. This may involve health and safety training.

Stage 2 Terms and Conditions:

If our application for additional access funding is successful, appropriate Terms and Conditions will be developed to facilitate stage 2 of the scheme.