The Academy has announced a major international summit to explore new approaches to solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The summit, to be held in London on 12 and 13 March 2013, will bring together leading thinkers and innovators with the next generation of engineering talent from across the world.

The inaugural Global Grand Challenges Summit is a new collaboration of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the national academies of engineering in the USA and China. This two day event will spark discussion and debate among the thought leaders of today and over 400 leaders of tomorrow working in business, industry, research and policy. It will be webcast to a worldwide audience.

Sessions will focus on issues of sustainability, health, education, technology and growth, enriching life and resilience. Participants will discuss ways of developing the collaborations, networks and tools to address common global challenges.

Speakers will include: Bill Gates, Professor Frances Arnold, Lord Darzi HonFREng, Dame Professor Ann Dowling FREng FRS, Professor John Hennessy, Dr Robert Langer FREng, Dr Regina E. Dugan and Professor Chris Wise FREng. Many more speakers will be announced in the coming months.

The academies are organising this summit in partnership with Lockheed Martin and with the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). This event was inspired by the US National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 2008 report “Grand Challenges for the 21st Century,” which was produced by an international panel of leading scientists and engineers (

Sir John Parker FREng, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “Engineers hold the key to addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, but we will only solve these if we become more systematic in the way we educate, innovate, and collaborate. This major international event will push for a sea change in the way engineers interact with each other with other disciplines, with policymakers and with society at large. It will also highlight the excitement of cutting-edge engineering and showcase the central role engineers will play in delivering a safe, sustainable and prosperous future.”

Charles M. Vest NAE FREng, President of the US National Academy of Engineering, says: “The prosperity of future generations relies on unprecedented levels of interdisciplinary and international cooperation in pursuit of solutions to global challenges. Whether the task is providing clean water for a rising global population or developing the resilience of our infrastructure to climate change, solutions demand more than isolated scientific breakthroughs. Instead, it is time to explore what could be accomplished with a globally-integrated systems approach.”

In the run up to the Summit, a short film competition for 18-27 year olds will be launched. Creative entrants are called to produce a two minute film highlighting the importance of engineering in tackling a global grand challenge.

Notes for editors

  1. The Global Grand Challenges Summit will take place on 12 and 13 March 2013 at 2 Savoy Place, London. To register your interest in attending, please email:  International team
    Registration for the event will be open at the end of November 2012.
    Further information on the event and the announced speakers is available from

    Keep up to date with developments via twitter @RAEngNews
  2. The summit is the first of a series of global summits resulting from collaboration between the Royal Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Engineering in the US, and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The academies are organising this event in partnership with Lockheed Martin, and with the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
  3. Speakers include:

    - Professor Frances Arnold, Professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology

    - Lord Darzi HonFREng is a leading surgeon at Imperial College London and was appointed a Business Ambassador in the UK by Prime Minister David Cameron.

    - Professor Dame Ann Dowling FREng FRS is a mechanical engineer specialising in combustion, acoustics and vibration and is Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge.

    - Dr Regina E. Dugan was the first female Director of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and is now Senior Vice president of Motorola Mobility, where she is charged with building and leading the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group.

    - Bill Gates, Co-Founder and Chairman of Microsoft and Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will speak by satellite.

    - Professor John Hennessy is a computer scientist and President of Stanford University as well as a board member of several companies including Google and Cisco Systems.

    - Dr Robert Langer FREng is the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is regarded as a pioneer in the field of bioengineering and is responsible for ground-breaking innovations in drug delivery systems and tissue engineering.

    - Professor Chris Wise FREng, Structural Engineer and Co-Founder of Expedition Engineering, has been involved with iconic projects including the 2012 Olympic Velodrome and Millennium Bridge.

    The Academies will announce more speakers in the coming months.
  4. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  5. Founded in 1964, the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.
  6. The Chinese Academy of Engineering is the Chinese national academy of engineering and technological sciences. Its missions are to initiate and conduct strategic studies, to provide consultancy services for decision-making on key national engineering and technological sciences issues, and to promote the development of engineering and technological sciences in China for the benefit and welfare of society.
  7. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK (RCUK).

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