THINKlab. The power to innovate.

Collaborating with research and commercial partners to create a sustainable digital future.

Contact Details

Terrence Fernando, Professor and Director of THINKLab

Dulcidio Coelho, THINKlab Technical Director

+44 (0)161 295 6579


THINKlab: Advancing digital innovation to solve global challenges.

The world is facing many new and emerging challenges. Managing the effects of global warming, developing cities and economies sustainably and deciding how to care for an ageing population are all areas that require innovative approaches from government and industry.

Which is where THINKlab can help!

Our unique service and creative facilities are specifically designed to bring university teams and external partners together in an atmosphere of collaboration and co-creation.

Through commercial and grant funded research, our experts in technical innovation apply gaming technology, big data tools and advanced visualisation techniques to create digital platforms and interactive experiences that help our partners understand future scenarios and plan their solutions accordingly.

The THINKlab Research and Enterprise teams specialise in Smart Cities, Collaborative Engineering and Virtual Training Environments.

Research areas

Collaborative engineering

We have a proven track record in developing virtual engineering environments that support team collaboration among distributed multi-functional teams in sectors such as aerospace, railway, construction, energy and space exploration. We are specialised in:

  • Modelling and simulation
  • Advanced visualisation techniques for design reviews
  • Creating team spaces for remote working

Examples of our work include:

  • A 4D Simulation Environment for Network Rail to plan track renewal programmes which offer an interactive environment with a range of planning options. Winner of the ‘BIM Project of the Year’ national award from Constructing Excellence in 2016.
  • A Virtual Offshore Electrical Substation for Siemens to conduct safety reviews, product launch and customer demonstrations.
  • A Collaborative Virtual Environment for the Mars Space Mission. As a part of the EU funded CROSS DRIVE project, the THINKlab team produced a collaborative virtual environment for planning future space missions which let scientists and engineers explore landing site selection.

Smart cities

We develop digital city platforms that enable public and private organisations to work together to create healthier, wealthier and safer cities for citizens. We are specialised in: 

  • City platforms that integrate dispersed data sets
  • Data mining that extracts patterns and perform predictive analysis
  • Advanced visual interfaces that support “what-if” scenarios and evidence-based decision making

Examples of our work include:

  • The MOBILISE Platform, developed as a part of the Global Challenges Research Initiative, demonstrated how risk information within a city can be used to support collaborative disaster risk reduction activities and disaster response.
  • The RHS Bridgewater Garden is an interactive virtual reality platform which allows the users to experience the space and new garden design in different weather conditions and throughout the seasons.
  • The Troubled Families’ Project, involving several agencies, demonstrated how an information rich virtual city model could be used to bring new intelligence, insight and interpretations within the complex policy domain of ‘troubled families.’
  • The Virtual Pendleton Model promoted co-design activities involving communities in the creation of their local futures.

Virtual training environments

We offer support for creating virtual training environments based on modern learning theories. They exploit the power of gaming technologies to enhance learning through play. We are specialised in:

  • Motivational gaming environments based on advanced visualisation and 3D interaction
  • Crowd simulation for creating various scenarios
  • Augmented reality environments which combine real and virtual objects

Examples of our work include:

  • The Flood Incident Training Environment, developed in collaboration with the Environment Agency, replaces the current paper-based training approach with a multi-user virtual training environment for trainees to work together to respond to a flood event.
  • The Volcano Game Platform, developed in collaboration with the BBC, allows children to interactively learn about the science behind volcanic eruptions.
  • The Green Building Neighbourhood Environment allows users to explore and learn about the use of renewable energy sources for creating energy efficient neighbourhoods. The underlying mathematical framework supports energy matching and energy trading between the buildings and the grid.