University receives donation of £640,000 to deliver vision of a future Derby

15 February 2021

The University of Derby has received a generous legacy donation of £640,000 which will be used to deliver research that will create an augmented reality representation of Derby in the future.

Professor Richard Horsley Osborne passed away in 2018 at the age of 93 and left a substantial gift to the University in his will. As well as being interested in regional economic development, he was a founding trustee of the Derby Lonsdale College of Higher Education, and was among those who were key in setting the path for the institution to reach University status in 1992.

The Osborne legacy will fund a research project called ‘Derby’s Urban Sustainable Transition’ (DUST), focusing on the transition of Derby’s urban landscape towards a more environmentally sustainable future.

The three-year project will lay the groundwork for the long-term development of Derby city and surrounding areas, addressing issues of climate change, human and nature habitat management, sustainable mobility and transport, and integrated connectivity that enhances the lived experience of the citizens of Derby. The project will involve University partners, including Derby City Council, Toyota Manufacturing UK and international collaborative partners in Toyota City, Japan.

The legacy will fund, among other things, two post-doctoral researchers, each for a period of three years, as well as capital investment by the University for equipment in connection with the DUST project.  

The project will be led by 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.

He said: “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. 

“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.”

The College of Science and Engineering at the University has facilities and equipment that will be utilised in the project, with particular expertise in built environment and biodiversity, smart cities, and data science. The University’s Data Science Research Centre, based in the University’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Centre, features high performance computing facilities and a state-of-the-art Data Visualisation Laboratory, which will be used for creating an augmented visualisation of a future Derby.

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.”

The University of Derby firmly believes in the transformational nature of education and impactful, applied research. A legacy or donation to the University has a lasting impact and supports its promise that “everything we do is driven by delivering excellence and opportunities for our students, staff and region.”

To find out more about leaving a legacy to the University of Derby or to make a donation, contact Hannah Hallam, Development and Alumni Relations Manager, at

For further information contact the press office at