The Birmingham-Illinois Partnership for Discovery, Engagement and Education (or simply, “BRIDGE”) is an academic partnership between the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the United States. BRIDGE provides a framework for mutual collaboration and investment between the two institutions with a specific vision to foster breakthrough research and address shared global challenges including global health, sustainability, and education access and equity.

Partnership History

The University of Birmingham and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been working together under the framework of BRIDGE since its establishment in March 2014. The formal partnership agreement was renewed in April 2018 for an additional five years, then again in 2023 for five more years. 

The BRIDGE acronym—which was creatively teased out of the longer partnership name—originates from some of the earliest collaborations between the two universities, which centered on research regarding cultural heritage management associated with the Ironbridge Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site. The logo and workmark designs (pictured below) are similarly inspired by the Ironbridge’s distinctive features and structure.

BRIDGE has become one of the most robust strategic partnerships for both universities thanks to consistent investment and ongoing collaboration efforts in the form of the BRIDGE Seed Fund and the BRIDGE Fellowship. Among the many achievements are the ongoing collaborative engagement of 115 pairings of academics across all five University of Birmingham colleges and 13 colleges and schools and four research institutes at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. More than $1.1 million has been invested in the partnership, leading to an additional $5.4 million in external funding secured by BRIDGE collaborators.

University of Birmingham

For more than a century, the University of Birmingham has been pursuing and sharing knowledge through outstanding teaching and world-leading research.

The University of Birmingham gained its royal charter in 1900 and has been challenging and developing great minds for more than a century. The University of Birmingham was England’s first civic university, a place where students from all backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis. More than 100 years on, the campus has grown to 672 acres, and added a second campus in Dubai. The University of Birmingham welcomes more than 38,000 students each year, employs 8,000 staff, and has an alumni network of over 300,000.

Fostering new perspectives

Discover the University of Birmingham’s history, culture, and academic excellence that make them one of England’s leading universities.

Changing how the world works

See how the University of Birmingham’s research is transforming lives across the globe and identifying new solutions for age-old and contemporary issues.

Collaborating to deliver impact across research and education

Explore the University of Birmingham’s partnerships that drive innovation and influence to positively shape the world around.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

With its land-grant heritage as a foundation, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign pioneers innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience.

Since its founding in 1867, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has earned a reputation as a world-class leader in research, teaching, and public engagement with a mission to enhance the lives of citizens in the state of Illinois, across the nation and around the world through their leadership in learning, discovery, engagement, and economic development. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign welcomes more than 55,000 students each year, employs 10,000 faculty and staff, and has a living alumni network of more than 500,000 (one of the largest in the United States).


The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign fosters transformational academic experiences, with more than 150 undergraduate and more than 100 graduate and professional programs.


The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign research enterprise drives student experiences and community engagement, powering innovation and positive change locally, nationally, and globally.


The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign unites knowledge, discovery, and teaching and learning, to create communities and partnerships that leave a lasting societal impact.