EPSRC Regional Meeting – Newcastle

This presentation was followed by 2 interactive sessions:
‘How can we support world-leading teams to deliver excellent research that meets UK and global priorities?’
‘How can we maximise the impact of our excellent research and talented people?’
The main points to note from David’s presentation was that EPSRC is no longer in passive funding mode. They have a set of 3 strategic goals over the next 3 years:
  • delivering impact
  • developing leaders
  • shaping capability
Their main aims are to support researchers throughout their careers and to shorten the pathways to impact.
Due to a 30% cut in their administration budget, EPSRC have cut the number of schemes they support to try and streamline their grants system. A full picture of the EPSRC portfolio is available on their website.
One of the key messages of the day from David was that EPSRC want to encourage universities to collaborate more and compete less. Also, there will be increased investment in high performance computing, encouraging Europe working together to compete with the US, China and India on quality not quantity.
National Importance: From 15 November 2011, EPSRC introduced National Importance as an additional assessment criterion. In 2010 EPSRC published its Strategic Plan articulating a very clear goal of Shaping Capability – namely to focus our portfolio in areas of international research excellence and national importance. We will therefore base all investment decisions over the Delivery Plan period primarily on international excellence but also on national importance (set in a global context) and the EPSRC portfolio while continuing to encourage the free generation of ideas, curiosity and research creativity.

Applicants will now need to clearly identify the national importance of their proposed research project in their case for support and reviewers will be asked to consider national importance as a major secondary criterion, after research quality, in their assessment.


Thinking about impact, collaboration and postgraduate researchers

ASHPIT (Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities Policy and Practice Implementation Thinktank) is holding a think tank day on May 28th at University of Oxford. This will bring together research development professionals with academic staff to talk about themes of collaborating in consortia, impact, and preparing postgraduate researchers for careers in academia.

On impact, the focus will be on linking RCUK impacts articulated in the Pathways to Impact parts of grant applications with REF impacts. This discussion will also inform the theme of engaging postgraduate researchers in academic careers, where the questions will be around how to encourage postgraduates to work ‘impactfully’ in collaboration with academic staff.

Here’s more from the ASHPIT blog:

Speakers will include representatives of the Research Councils, as well as academics and researcher developers, and we hope that the event will provide both useful information about and a forum for discussion of some of the most important facets of those topics.

Those interested in attending the next event should send email details of their name, role and institution to ashpit@nottingham.ac.uk by Friday 11th May, indicating whether or not they require support for travel costs.

The full provisional timetable is available here.


AHRC Study Tour 2012 – Knowledge Exchange and International Opportunities

This is part four in a series on the 2012 AHRC Study Tour.

Knowledge Exchange
Jo Lansdowne – Knowledge Exchange Strategy & Development Manager.

AHRC are moving from Knowledge Transfer to Knowledge Exchange, funding ‘collaboration’ between academics & non-academics, recognising that Knowledge Exchange is a 2-way process.  The small dedicated schemes focusing on Knowledge Transfer will end and instead AHRC are embedding Knowledge Exchange in all of its schemes, though they will still fund KTPs through TSB. This term, embedding, appeared regularly throughout the day and the same applies to their international opportunities – discussed below – where the move is away from smaller scale specific schemes towards larger, multipurpose, higher impact grants.

The Creative Economy is the major focus of Knowledge Exchange and AHRC have moved supporting a small number of longer, larger grants for Knowledge Exchange Hubs. The Creative Economy covers 4 key areas:

  • cultural promotion & conservation – museums, cultural tourism
  • creative activitiesperforming arts, fashion, gaming
  • creative communicationsadvertising, experience economy, broadcasting
  • creative interfacesdesign industries

The types of activity in each of the Hubs will depend upon the needs and aspirations of a Hub’s target organisations and businesses and could involve a range of different knowledge exchange models, creative engagements and interactions. There are currently 4 Knowledge Exchange Research Hubs:

  • Design in Action – baased in Dundee – food, sport. ICT, rural economy
  • CreativeWorks London – led by Queen Mary College – creative economy
  • The Creative Exchange – based in Lancaster (NW) – content creation & distribution
  • REACT – led by University of the West of England, SW & S Wales – creative economy & SMEs

AHRC also provides targeted research support, for example:

  • Digital R&D for Arts & Culture – jointly with Arts Council of England & NESTA
  • Brighton Fuse – £1m grant awarded to expand the creative, digital and IT sector in Brighton and Hove.
  • Strategic Partnerships

Jo’s slides can be viewed on the AHRC website.

International Opportunities
Naomi Baeumont – Head of International Strategy

AHRC’s Priority Regions are:

  • South Asia
  • North America
  • Europe
  • China & Brazil

AHRC look to engage with early career researchers as links made at this stage in your career are usually enduring.

Current interactions with Europe:

  • Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA): upcoming call with €19M available. Linked to the AHRC Translating Cultures theme. www.hera.org
  • Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on Cultural Heritage & Global Change – possible joint calls in the future www.netheritage.eu
  • Engagement with European Commission on the Socio-Economic & Humanities theme in Horizon 2020.

Worldwide Interactions:

AHRC have a number of worldwide Agreements & MoUs: Germany, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, as well as an open responvive mode scheme for international collaboration with Brazil & North America.

There are a number of current and planned co-funded programmes:

  • digging into data – USA, Canada, Netherlands
  • Humanities and Wellbeing – links with USA under the Science in Culture theme

Under the Research Networking Scheme proposals for FEC up to £30,000 for a period of up to 2 years may be submitted.   An additional threshold of up to £15,000 FEC can be requested to cover the costs of any international participants or activities in addition to the £30,000 fEC scheme limit.  Applications can be made at any time.

The International Placement Scheme is aimed at Early Career Researchers who are currently holders of an AHRC grant. The Scheme provides support for access to international collections and libraries and will cover flights and additional living expenses. The placement should add value to an existing AHRC award.

In the future AHRC will be looking to work strategically with British Council. Furture avenues of collaboration have been identified in India and there are already relationships with the SHRC in Canada that are still to be explored.

Naomi’s slides are available on the AHRC website.