Information is Beautiful! Visualising Research Competition


Designers, graphic artists, software developers, programmers and anyone with an interest in data visualisation to produce images are being invited to show how public funding contributes to research in the UK.

Key data from the seven Research Councils is now available in one place – Gateway to Research – enabling anyone to interrogate grants awarded, publications, people and organisations. The purpose of the challenge is to develop visualisations of this data that can be easily understood by the public.

Displaying the data in an accessible way will have benefits for the designer, stakeholders,policy makers, other funding bodies and the media.

Information on the competition, being run by AHRC, BBSRC and the British Library can be found here

Previous award winning entries to give you some inspiration can also be found here

Good luck!!!



ADSS Faculty Briefing on Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 logo

A briefing event on the soon to be launched Horizon 2020 funding programme has been arranged for members of staff from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences. The briefing will be held on Wednesday 27th November in room A114 in the Ellison Building at 4.15pm.

The event will briefly introduce the broad strokes of the scheme- how it will be structured, where to look for opportunities, and who to contact at Northumbria University if you wish to discuss an application.

Further targeted events and workshops are planned for colleagues who wish to apply to Horizon 2020; this event aims to raise awareness of the main aspects of the scheme and how to engage preliminary discussion on applications.

If you wish to attend please RSVP Scott McGee or Elizabeth Jones so we have a rough idea of numbers.;




AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards 2013 Highlights Design

Post Grad Research CourseThe Arts and Humanities Research Council’s annual call for Collaborative Doctoral Awards was released earlier this month. CDAs are funded PhDs supervised jointly by an HEI and non-academic organisation – for more detail on how the scheme works please see this previous post.

Applications can be submitted to any area within AHRC’s remit, but this year there is a special highlight on Design, and in particular the role of Design in Innovation in partnership with SMEs in the service industry.

The final deadline for applications: 3rd October 2013. However, potential applicants should be aware that each HEI is capped at a maximum of 3 applications per HEI (assuming that one is for the Design highlight). Therefore, Northumbria may need to have an internal selection if there are more than 3 potential proposals.

If you are interested, please send brief expressions of interest to me, following the outline below by 16th August at the latest.

Internal expressions of interest:

Expressions of interest should be sent to me ( by 16th August. They should be brief (no longer than 2 sides of A4) and should include the following information:

  • Name of PI and any other co-applicants who will be contributing to the proposal;
  • Proposed title of the project;
  • How many studentships (applicants can apply for up to four linked studentships within a single application – this counts as one proposal in terms of our HEI cap);
  • Proposed research questions;
  • Name of the partner organisation and a short statement about the collaboration: what is the nature of the relationship, what benefits will this partner bring to the research in terms of student training opportunities, access to resources, knowledge, and any wider social, economic or cultural benefits?;

We’re not looking for polished proposals at this stage. What’s important is to give a clear sense of what the proposed collaboration will achieve beyond a standard university-funded studentship. At the end of the day the purpose of an internal competition is to identify the 2-3 proposals which have the best chance of success on AHRC’s terms.

If we receive more than three applications across the University we’ll endeavour to review these and make a decision in the week following (i.e. w/b 19th August). The reason this is relatively soon is to give successful applicants the best chance to fully develop their proposals before the AHRC deadline of 3rd October.

Other options:

Some of you may already be aware of an alternative route available to secure a CDA, separate to the standard application route outlined above, which is through collaboration with one of the organisations holding a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership.

A CDP is essentially a block grant for CDAs awarded to a number of non-academic organisations which have been successful in hosting CDAs in the past. These organisations can then choose how to allocate their annual cohort of CDAs – and which HEIs they choose to work with – as they see fit. The actual processes by which CDA projects are established with CDP organisations vary, so AHRC have published a list of these organisations and contact details [PDF].

Note that any CDAs which are awarded through CDP collaboration would not count towards our cap of CDA submissions in the standard route. The CDP is an entirely separate pot of CDAs.


Northumbria goes to CHI 2013: Changing Perspectives

Louvre at dusk by scot2342 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0Once again Northumbria University is involved in 26 contributions to the prestigious CHI conference, this year being held in Paris and finishing today.

You can read about them all here:

CHI 2013: Changing Perspectives

Experts from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences and Health and Life Sciences have taken part this year, with contributions including digital art, design for ageing, vulnerability and dementia, spiritual user experiences, HCI in Mass Media through to understanding communication needs of different health groups.

CHI is the premier international conference on human-computer interaction, which took place this year between 27th April and 2nd May in Paris. This year’s conference is one of the biggest ever, with over 3,000 professionals from over 40 countries.


Feedback on Horizon 2020: Sustainable Urban Dynamics Stakeholder Workshop

The Hilton Hotel Madrid Airport 2008 by UggBoy CC BY 2.0Recently Professor Bob Giddings represented Northumbria University in a Horizon 2020 Stakeholder Workshop in Rome on Sustainable Urban Dynamics. This workshop involved experts across the EU from industry and academia as well as the EC to inform the development of the Horizon 2020 Challenge on “The promotion of sustainable and inclusive environments through innovative spatial and urban planning and design”.

Bob has agreed to give an informal feedback and briefing session on key lessons learned from the event and to highlight any significant opportunities (in terms of networking, partnerships or funding) which may be relevant to Northumbria staff in this area. This will take place next Wednesday, 17th April from 12-1pm in Pandon Building, Room S3.

All Northumbria staff are welcome, but please let me know if you plan to attend by 3pm Friday 12th April so that I can book tea/coffee. Please note there will be no lunch provided.

Background: Horizon 2020 is the EC’s next Framework Programme for Research and Development and will run from 2014-2020. This will have a substantially increased budget from FP7 and part of this will go towards funding research addressing “Societal Challenges”, including challenge 6 on Inclusive, Secure and Sustainable Societies, which is where the topic above will sit.

The stakeholder workshop aimed to identify potential research subjects to be tackled at EU-level related to:

  • Social cohesion in EU cities
  • Economics of urban and peri-urban areas;
  • Environmental urban governance;
  • EU cities as hubs of creativity and innovation;
  • Medium and long-term pathways of urban development.

More details about the workshop can be found on the EC’s research web pages:


AHRC Highlight Connected Communities and Design

Grabbing Dinner in Beijing by Trey Ratcliff CC BY-NC-SA 2.0The AHRC this week announced a new highlight notice for their Research Grants (both standard and early career routes) on Connected Communities and Design. Applications can be up to £1.5M FEC for standard grants and up to £250K for the early career route.

What are they looking for?

They’re looking for projects which intersect across Arts and Humanities, Design and Connected Communities. Projects will be inherently interdisciplinary, and can include expertise and approaches from beyond the arts and humanities disciplines, but they must include design and arts and humanities subjects at their core.

Projects must also engage with communities throughout all stages of the research process, and involve strong collaborative partnerships with organisations outside the Higher Education sector.

Part of the rationale for this highlight notice is to stimulate innovative projects based on design and so participants should think carefully about how their project might contribute to the development of national research capability in design.


The AHRC have put together a package of what they call “stimulus materials” to provide additional context to the call and to encourage potential applicants to think creatively about projects. These include an annotated list of projects previously funded under the Connected Communities theme, several case studies, tips on putting together successful projects, and a page entitled “What sorts of projects can be funded?” which expands on the brief descriptions on the main call page.

What’s the deadline?

The highlight notice will be in effect until 15th January 2014, and applications should be submitted via Je-S in the usual way. Applicants should take note of the need to provide additional information around the fit to the Highlight Notice within the Case for Support. Note also that the standard £1M FEC limit has been raised for this highlight call and in addition projects are able to attach three studentships rather than the usual two, but again it’s important to emphasise the fit to the call highlight.

How will my application be assessed?

The assessment process for highlighted grants is often misunderstood, so it’s worth quoting at length from the AHRC here:

Applications submitted under the highlight notice will be considered in accordance with the standard peer review process and criteria for the AHRC’s Research Grant Scheme. If, following peer review, they pass through the normal sift process they will be moderated by a prioritisation panel. Depending on the number of applications received under the highlight notice, applications will either be assessed by the most relevant subject panel alongside other non-highlight proposals, or by a separate moderating / prioritisation panel which will consider all the applications received under the highlight notice in that grants round.

Although applications submitted under the highlight notice will not be given any additional priority within the peer review process, the AHRC may consider supplementing the budget for grants rounds to support additional highly rated applications under the highlight notice for which there might not be sufficient funds within the existing budget for the scheme. As a result, applications addressing this highlight notice may have an increased chance of funding, but only if they fully meet the excellence criteria for the scheme and high international standards of scholarship, originality, quality and significance as judged through peer review.

As usual, Northumbria staff interested in developing a bid to this call should get in touch with your relevant Research Funding Manager at an early stage.


Horizon 2020: Workshop on Innovative Spatial and Urban Planning and Design

The Hilton Hotel Madrid Airport 2008 by UggBoy CC BY 2.0UKRO has highlighted an EC workshop on Innovative Spatial and Urban Planning and Design which will take place in Rome on 28th March, 2013. The purpose will be to identify potential research subjects on innovative spatial and urban planning and design in preparation for forthcoming calls in Horizon 2020. Calls on this topic will feature under the item: “The promotion of sustainable and inclusive environments through innovative spatial and urban planning and design” as part of the Inclusive, Innovative and Secure Societies strand.

Numbers are likely to be limited to 30 for the workshop itself, but the EC has indicated it will publish the results online. For information on how to express interest in joining the debate, you should consult the UKRO article (subscription is available for all University staff). Northumbria staff should contact Research Funding Managers within RBS if you’re interested in this agenda.


BBSRC Launch Crowd-Sourcing for Biological Sciences Call

Concert Crowd Osheaga 2009 30000 waiting for Coldplay by Anirudh Koul CC BY-NC 2.0BBSRC have just launched a new call aimed at harnessing crowd-sourcing approaches to tackle large and complex scientific problems, which have relevance to one or more of their strategic priorities:

BBSRC: Crowd-sourcing for biological sciences

What are they looking for?

Successful proposals will involve a range of disciplinary approaches, including bioscience expertise, ICT, design and possibly management. Projects will establish the software (this could be built on existing platforms), organise and conduct crowd sourcing, generate high quality bioscience data and create new knowledge. Individual bids can be of any scale appropriate to the activity described, but are not expected to go beyond £1M over 3 years. Potential applicants should be aware that BBSRC have allocated £2M in total for funding bids to this call. The problems addressed must fit with the BBSRC strategic priorities which include:

  • Food security: including crop science, animal health and welfare, soil science, and healthy and safe food
  • Bioenergy: generating new replacement fuels for a greener, more sustainable future
  • Ageing: lifelong health and well-being
  • Global Uncertainties: specifically BBSRC seek research on the proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons and technologies
  • Living with Environmental Change: specifically agricultural productivity, insect pollinators, flowering time, soil biological processes and interactions, pests and diseases of crops and livestock

There are a number of cases which are excluded from this call, including projects supporting community annotation of an existing resource, continued support of an existing crowd-sourced project, and open competition approaches to crowd sourcing where a cash prize is offered to solve a particular problem. BBSRC encourage potential applicants to get in touch with them at an early stage. Contact details are provided on the call page.

How do I apply?

The call has a two-stage application process:

  1. Intentions to submit must be submitted to by 5 March 2013, 4 pm. The intention to submit form is a short form (no more than 2 pages) which summarises the applicants, partners, costs, an outline of the project and its strategic relevance to BBSRC. It will not form part of the assessment process but will allow BBSRC to monitor demands on funds, overlapping applications and fit to strategic priorities. Feedback will be given on these issues where appropriate in advance of the full application deadline.
  2. Full applications must be submitted using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system by 9 April 2013, 4 pm. Note that full stage applications will be assessed by a “fast-track” panel of experts covering the domains of biosciences, IT, design and societal aspects of the call.

Detailed guidance on bids as well as a copy of the intention to submit form are both available from the BBSRC. Please get in touch with RBS at an early stage if you intend to apply.


Research Councils and TSB collaborate to inspire design freedom in 3D printing

3D Printing, or to give it its slightly less memorable moniker “additive manufacturing”, has been hailed as a revolutionary and game-changing tool for design and manufacturing. Although it is already well established, market uptake has been slow. The UK’s Technology Strategy Board is now collaborating with AHRC, EPSRC, and ESRC to fund business-led industrial research projects to address this, overcoming barriers such as high cost, inconsistent material properties, lack of applicable industry standards, unexpected pre-and post-processing requirements and the failure to exploit the new design freedoms offered. The call officially opened on 3rd December and registration deadline for interested applicants is the 23rd January 2013. There is an information day in London next week on December 11th which is still open for registrations.

What are they looking for?

There are three project types:

Project Type Duration Cost Led By
Small up to 2 years £100K – £400K Small companies only
Medium up to 3 years £200K – £1M Small or medium companies
Large up to 3 years £500K – £1.5M Must include partners from 3 or more sectors, led by a company

Within this framework, TSB wants to see projects at a relatively high Technology Readiness Level (4-7) in one of the six following topic areas:

  • Design freedoms
  • Application development and demonstrators
  • Pre- and post-processing
  • End-to-end system integration
  • Supply and distribution chains
  • Business model development and demonstration
For academic partners within consortia, TSB in partnership with the research councils, has identified three priority areas where academic research could be undertaken as part of the innovation project:
  1. End-to-end manufacturing cycle rehearsal (digital simulation/validation, design to delivery).
  2. Economic and social enablers for sustainable supply chain and business model development.
  3. Mobilising design freedoms and intellectual property frameworks for successful business transformation.

What are the Research Council priorities?

The EPSRC is supporting this competition with up to £1m for research grants and wishes to encourage the participation of research groups which have secured significant prior EPSRC support for additive manufacturing research. It will consider funding project work packages focused on research done by universities, where it aligns with EPSRC priorities as set out in their strategy Manufacturing the Future ( and is in scope of this competition. Applicants invited to apply for Stage 2 of this competition will identify work packages at that stage.

Similarly, the AHRC is looking to invest up to £500k in research work packages aligned with its Digital Transformations theme and Design strategic priority area (www.

Likewise, the ESRC is looking to support with up to £500k for research work packages aligned with its Economic Performance and Sustainable Growth theme (


Northumbria research on intelligent materials could change the way we live

From the University newsroom this week:

Intelligent self-repairing clothing and sensors that can detect the potential onset of an epileptic seizure sound like the stuff of science fiction but Northumbria University designers and engineers are turning them into reality.

The cutting-edge of design and engineering visions for the future will be showcased at the launch of Northumbria’s new P³i research group at the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) in London this month.

P³i is a design research initiative that aims to accelerate the development of printable, paintable and programmable intelligent (P³i) materials capable of creating intelligent products, services and experiences.

Research from the innovative centre could change the way that people live in the future. Northumbria already has a strong reputation for producing world-changing graduates in the design field, such as Sir Jonathan Ive, of Apple, who has created revolutionary new technologies including the iPhone and iPad which have now become consumer staples.

The University’s investment in new technologies – including a £135,000 bioplotter machine which is capable of printing multi-component three-dimensional structures and a £65,000 Atomic Force Microscope to look at materials at the nanoscale – demonstrates the ambition to be at the forefront of future breakthroughs.

Melding design with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, P³i brings together leading designers and engineers to find technology-based solutions for society’s needs and future ways of living. The centre will engage in a design-led exploration of emerging materials and technologies in, on and around the human body in the 21st Century.

As part of the 2012 London Design Festival, Northumbria’s P³i members will become designers in residence at the RAE from 18-21 September, showcasing some of their innovations in the Towards Future Ways of Living exhibition.

Visitors to the exhibition will be introduced to the group’s core values exploring the materials used to create products that matter to people. The P³i team will present an unexpected and unorthodox exhibition featuring four interactive rooms that will display glimpses of new materials and fabrication technologies.

Future products and services that combine innovative materials and fabrics with biological functions will be explored in P³i’s laboratories and studio facilities. Staff are currently at the forefront of research into anticipatory medical devices, such as the development of ‘smartware’ – fabrics that treat chronic wounds caused by diabetes and leg ulcers; ‘senseware’ – motion sensors embedded in textiles that can detect the onset of epileptic seizures and alert medical professionals; and ‘bioware’ – technology-embedded materials and surfaces in the home and on the body…

Read more.