Professor’s legacy will fund research into greener Derby

The University of Derby received £640,000 in Professor Richard Horsley Osborne’s will

The University of Derby has received a legacy donation of £640,000 to deliver a vision of a future, greener Derby.

Professor Richard Horsley Osborne, who died in 2018 at the age of 93, left the gift to the university in his will.

A geographer with a keen interest in regional economic development, Professor Osborne played a key role in the institution achieving university status in 1992, having been a founding trustee of the then Derby Lonsdale College of Higher Education, which evolved into the Derbyshire College of Higher Education before becoming the University of Derby.

His legacy will fund a three-year research project called ‘Derby’s Urban Sustainability Transition’ (DUST). This will use augmented reality to explore the transition of Derby’s urban landscape towards a more environmentally sustainable future, addressing issues of climate change, human and nature habitat management, sustainable mobility and transport, and integrated connectivity.

The donation will pay for, among other things, two post-doctoral researchers, each for a period of three years, as well as capital investment in equipment.

The project will involve university partners, including Derby City Council, Toyota Manufacturing UK and international collaborative partners in Toyota City, Japan.

Many generations of our family lived and worked in Derbyshire and my uncle had a deep interest in its social and economic development – Dr Sue Jones

“We are enormously grateful to the Osborne family for their generosity and support in our research that reflects the expertise of the late Professor Osborne in economic regeneration of towns and cities within the East Midlands, particularly in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire,” said Dr Chris Bussell, pro vice-chancellor dean of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Derby, who also chairs Derby City’s Climate Change Committee.

“The project will bring together researchers in computer science, virtual and augmented reality, biodiversity and environmental scientists, city planning and urban design, and physical and human geographers to, ultimately, produce an augmented reality of a reimagined city.

“Aligning to work underway with Derby City Council, the Economic Regeneration Forum, Marketing Derby and Derby Heritage, the DUST project will explore how we reimagine our city, capitalising on our rivers and streams, greenways and parks and open spaces, to improve active transport, reduce transport associated emissions and improve air quality.

“Professor Osborne was passionate about regional economic development and the DUST project will continue his legacy, using new technologies to reimagine the city through augmented reality towards a sustainable, vibrant, future.”

Professor Richard Horsley Osborne

Dr Sue Jones, niece of Professor Osborne and executor of the bequest, said: “Many generations of our family lived and worked in Derbyshire and my uncle had a deep interest in its social and economic development.

“He would have been very proud to be associated with a project which, in a time of profound national adjustment, seeks to take forward Derby and the surrounding area in a number of significant ways.”


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