Latest calls from the Newton Fund

The Newton Fund is helping the higher education sector to access funding for international research collaboration and applicants to connect with host institutions in the UK. The Newton Fund covers three broad activities:

•People: increasing capacity in science and innovation, individually and institutionally in partner countries.
•Research: research collaborations on development topics.
•Translation: creating collaborative solutions to development challenges and strengthening innovation systems

For all the latest calls from the Newton Fund, see the UUK website.

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Writing retreat for Northumbria researchers, Friday 23 June at the Northern Design Centre

Lots of people have told us how difficult it is to find space and time to write away from their offices. We’ve decided to run a writing retreat day where you can come along and write free from distraction at the Northern Design Centre.

There will be a quiet room to work in (with no talking and phones on silent please!) and a space outside where there will be free refreshments and lunch as well as an opportunity to meet and talk to colleagues from across the university. The retreat will run all day on Friday 23 June from 9.30-4 but feel free to come along at the times that suit you best. We don’t care what you’re writing. It can be an article or a grant application or something else related to your research.

For catering purposes and to make sure we have enough seating, please sign up on this doodle poll: https://doodle.com/poll/adcvq7b29tbn3v5t

If you haven’t been to the Northern Design Centre before, it isn’t that hard to find nor is it that far away. The address is Abbott’s Hill, Gateshead NE8 3DF. It is a couple of minutes walk from the Baltic.  

We’re hoping that this will be well attended and that we can then set some dates for regular writing retreats next academic year. We hope to see you there – please forward this on to any other colleagues that may be interested in coming along, regardless of department, faculty or job title.

 

 

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Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships call open, deadline 14 Sept

This year’s call for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships has launched with a deadline of 14 September 2017. Full call information, including the Guide for Applicants, is available on the European Commission’s Participant Portal.

Individual Fellowships (IF) are aimed at individual fellows who already have a doctorate or equivalent research experience. They enable researchers to advance their careers and gain new skills through advanced training, international mobility, and optional intersectoral secondments. European Fellowships are held in EU Member States and are open to researchers either coming to Europe or moving within Europe. Global Fellowships are based on a secondment to a third country and a compulsory 12 month return phase in a Europe host organisation.

Applications are developed jointly between the fellow and their intended host organisation. As well as a strong programme of research, the application needs to describe the benefits of the fellowship to both the researcher and the host institution and how the programme of research and training for the fellow will be implemented and managed. Industrial secondments can also be included.

UKRO, as UK National Contact Point for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, is holding two information events on the call to be held in Liverpool on 5 May and Bristol on 23 May. These events will provide participants with an in-depth overview of the IF scheme. Participants should gain a clear understanding of the proposal format for each scheme and the key issues relating to planning, writing and submitting proposals. Attendance is free but you must register on the UKRO website to reserve a place.

If you are thinking about developing an application, please contact your relevant Research Funding and Policy Manager who can advise and support you through the application process as well as share resources such as previously successsful applications.

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Government response to Dowling Review of business-university collaborations – brief summary

collaboration-1106196_960_720The Government published its response to the Dowling Review on 20th December welcoming and strongly supporting the review which it says is reflected in the £100m over four years it announced in the last budget to support university-business collaboration – ‘The Dowling Review will continue to guide our ongoing work to reform and simplify public support for research and development and maximise the potential benefits of collaboration between business and our academic research base.’

This is a summary of the main points:

  • UK Research and Investment (UKRI) will be the Government’s instrument to connect businesses with research by allocating funding for research and innovation, act as a champion for the UK’s world class system and drive future discovery and growth. It will incorporate the functions of the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK, and HEFCE’s research funding and knowledge exchange responsibilities (assuming it is approved by Parliament).
  • Public support for the innovation system is too complex. Actions taken by the Government include a simplified offer for Innovate UK funding, thinking about how to design a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund delivered by Innovate UK and research councils, and research councils are looking at changing the system of research and innovation funding. Clearly there is a lot of work to be done on this one.
  • People are central to successful collaborations. The emphasis on research impact and the research environment alongside outputs is seen as a way to encourage and reward collaboration with business and commercialisation of research in the public interest. Various existing initiatives are listed that support academics to develop collaborative skills or promote the benefits of collaboration. However it doesn’t say much else about how to meet Dowling’s recommendations on ‘…creating an incentive framework for universities and businesses which promotes the transfer of ideas and people between business and academia, and recommended supporting students to develop business awareness at an early stage of their research careers, continuing to fund schemes which support mobility between academia and business and ensuring that researchers who are successful in collaborations are valued in terms of career progression and assessment of research output – including by increasing the emphasis on collaboration in the Research Excellence Framework (REF).’ It says it’s up to universities how they direct their priorities to suit local strengths and needs.
  • Effective brokerage is crucial, particularly for SMEs, and continued support is needed for activities that help seed collaborations. The Gateway to Research web portal is seen as a step towards meeting the need for digital tools to identify potential research partners and the National Centre for Universities and Business is developing an ‘Intelligent Brokerage Tool’. The government has reaffirmed its long term commitment to knowledge exchange including funding for the Higher Education Innovation Fund, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is working with the Higher Education Funding Council for England to develop detailed proposals for allocating this funding to support universities in England. The Dowling Review highlighted Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs) and recommended their use more widely. This is likely to be welcomed by those universities who currently do not have an IAA.
  • Pump prime funding would stimulate the development of high quality research collaborations with critical mass and sustainability and more should be done to help existing efforts evolve from short-term, project-based collaborations to longer term partnerships focussed on use-inspired research. The document simply lists existing strategies that are aimed at addressing this.
  • Technology transfer offices need to prioritise knowledge exchange over short term income generation, and further work is required to improve approaches to contracts and IP agreements. The government has a clear expectation that exploitation of research means prioritising the long term benefits to the nation. This priority is reflected in the support and incentives provided by public research funding and the REF is the principal tool for incentivising behaviour around university research. It also points to the Lambert toolkit supporting IP processes but acknowledges that there is a need to simplify complex and time-consuming processes to agree collaborations. The McMillan review of technology transfer practice and the development of the knowledge exchange framework are cited as progress in this area.
  • Government strategy on innovation needs to be better coordinated and have greater visibility. They are aiming to achieve this through the Industrial Strategy and establishing UKRI. They also see a role for the Science and Innovation Audits bringing together businesses, universities and local enterprise partnerships. The Accelerated Access Review of the NHS also supports innovations in medicine

You can read the Government’s response to the Dowling Review in full here.

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H2020 Info Day and Brokerage Event “Innovative by Nature: Responding to Societal Challenges through Nature-Based Solutions and Cultural Heritage, 8 Dec, Brussels.

The European Commission has recently launched new Horizon 2020 calls for projects related to nature-based solutions for inclusive urban regeneration, heritage-led rural regeneration and nature-based solutions for hydro-meteorogical risk reduction.

An information and brokerage day will be held on the 8th December for those interested in applying to these calls. The event aims to:Funds

      • Present the Horizon 2020 Work Programme for the 2017 “Innovating with Nature and Culture” calls. Keynote speakers and Commission officers will provide tips and information on: innovative nature-based solutions in cities; cultural heritage as a driver for sustainable growth; nature-based solutions for hydro-meteorological risk reduction
      • To facilitate networking, information exchange and the development of new project partnerships during the afternoon brokerage event.

The event is free to attend but you need to register in advance to secure your place. Further information including the programme, a list of speakers and the registration link are available here.

 

 

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UK Information Day on H2020 Societal Challenge 5 2017 Calls

partnershipThe Enterprise Europe Network, in partnership with Innovate UK, is organising a National Information Day on the 2017 round of calls for Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 5 – Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials on 23 November in Birmingham.

The event will introduce the content of the forthcoming calls, present insights and priorities from the European Commission, provide information on the support available to UK applicants and offer networking opportunities to help find new project partners. In addition, National Contact Points (NCPs) from the UK, Ireland, Poland and Cyprus will be present to answer questions and help develop new collaborations. There will also be an opportunity to pitch ideas and expertise to representatives of industry and research organisations.

The event is free to attend but you must register in advance. More info is available on the event website.

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Have your say on Horizon 2020

As part of the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020, the European Horizon 2020-2Commission has launched a public stakeholder consultation which will run until 15 January 2017. The interim evaluation will help improve the way Horizon 2020 works and will also inform the preparations for the successor programme which will be launched in 2021.

If you have used the Participant Portal, applied to H2020 or been successful in winning funding from the programme, then the EC wants to hear your views. The questionnaire should take no longer than 20 minutes to complete.

 

 

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Beyond Horizon 2020?

European CommissionAlthough we’re not yet half way through Horizon 2020, the European Commission’s 8th framework programme for research and innovation, discussions have already started about the successor programme, Framework Programme 9 (FP9). Although UKRO have said that the Commission does not yet have a “masterplan ” for FP9, it is clear that the Commission is keen on a “co-creation” approach this time and has noted that there were big changes from FP7 to Horizon 2020 and further huge restructures are unlikely to be useful.  However, it is likely that there will be small changes and some flexibility in the last few years of Horizon 2020, enabling the creation of a European Innovation Council as proposed by the Research Commissioner, Carlos Moedas, and this will presumably continue into FP9.

Following discussions at an FP9 event in Brussels yesterday, Research Professional reports that as a result of political pressures from member states, defence research and a focus on capacity building for the newer member states will be included in future proposals. There may also be a greater focus on innovation, with a more industry-friendly programmes although there is no detail at this stage of what this may look like.

The Commission has asked a range of experts to consider the societal challenges that should be included in FP9 and this will be followed by a public consultation later this year. The proposal for FP9 is likely to be published in early 2018.

And then there is the question of the UK’s relationship with the EU by the time FP9 starts in 2021…

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Virtual Information Day on Horizon 2020 Energy Societal Challenge Calls, 20th September

clean fuelA virtual information day will be held on 20th September for potential applicants to the calls for project proposals under the 2016-2017 Horizon 2020 Work programme ‘Secure, clean and efficient energy’. Presentations by European Commission speakers will cover:

  • Relevant Horizon 2020 topics that will open for submission in 2016, in particular the novelties and changes in the updated Work Programme;
  • Submission and evaluation process;
  • Best practices from successful applicants.

The Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy Challenge is based on the following research areas:

  • Reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint
  • Low-cost, low-carbon electricity supply
  • Alternative fuels and mobile energy sources
  • A single, smart European electricity grid
  • New knowledge and technologies
  • Robust decision making and public engagement
  • Market uptake of energy and ICT innovation.

You need to register in advance in order to participate in the info day.

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