Be a Researcher in Residence at the Digital Catapult

Red Numbers by Dave Bleasdale CC BY
Red Numbers by Dave Bleasdale CC BY 2.0

The Digital Catapult and the RCUK Digital Economy (DE) Theme is now accepting applications for the Researchers in Residence Programme, to be hosted at the Digital Catapult Centre in London, or at one of the local centres (Belfast, Bradford, Brighton and Sunderland). The programme is designed to enable a researcher to undertake a project that will “generate impact for the digital economy in the broadest sense”.

Eligible applicants are those who have submitted their PhD by the closing date, but there is no upper limit in terms of years since submission. Applicants are expected to undertake either applied or strategic projects, with the latter expected to be assigned to those who have a strong track record and more experience in the area.

Holders will be able to access the Digital Catapult’s extensive partner network (from start‐ ups to major multi‐nationals, and public sector organisations), as well as the Catapult’s significant in‐house expertise in taking ideas to market, and the resources they have on hand. Potential applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposals in the first instance with Marko Balabanovic, CTO at the Digital Catapult (

The application form includes a section to describe your project proposal, a section on expertise and track record and another on expected impact. There is also space to set out the budget (no more than £25K at 100% FEC) and the timeline.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss your application further, please contact your Faculty Research Funding and Policy Manager.



NEMODE: Digital Economy Small Grants Available

Living on credit cards by Images of Money CC BY 2.0Those who were interested in yesterday’s post about a recent EPSRC call for New Economic Models for the Digital Economy may be interested in the open call for NEMODE 3K small grants [PDF].

NEMODE is one of four RCUK-funded networks within the Digital Economy theme: “NEMODE’s research domain is multi-disciplinary; it includes for example, considerations of the latest technological developments through computer science, operations research and data analytics, marketing, social anthropology, behavioural psychology and operations management.”

Part of its remit is to fund small research grants and placements activity. To this end they have an open (i.e. no deadline) call for small scale research projects of no more than 3 months duration and £3K FEC. NEMODE has identified a number of sub-themes which it is interested in funding through this call, including:

  • The concept of value in the digital economy
  • Intellectual property issues in the digital economy
  • Privacy, consent, security and trust in the digital economy
  • Virtual property
  • Crowd funding

The expected outputs of a 3 month grant would be, for example, a case study with associated literature review or a technical report, as appropriate to the topic selected. Applications are a maximum of 2 pages, written to two simple headings given in the guidance notes [PDF].

Although there are no formal deadlines, there are a number of review dates throughout the year when applications will be considered. These are: 1st Feb, 1st June, 1st Sept, 1st Dec.

In addition to the 3K small grants outlined above, NEMODE also has a “call for interest” in digital currency inspired by David Wolman’s BBC piece on the end of cash. They are currently seeking informal expressions of interest via email. See their calls page to find out more.


New Economic Models in the Digital Economy

Bitcoin by Zach Copley CC BY-SAEPSRC has recently released a call for proposals to support cross-disciplinary research on new economic models in the digital economy. EPSRC are specifically targeting business schools and economics researchers, which it says have been under-represented in existing grants:

New Economic Models in the Digital Economy


The digital economy challenges the way organisations work and do business. New technologies have revolutionized the way people relate to one another and are challenging traditional economic models and boundaries, as well as providing potential opportunities to create new ways of doing business: “To realise the economic potential of new technology, high quality research at the interfaces between the digital economy, economics and management sciences will be required and is of strategic importance to the UK.”

How do I apply?

There is £3.5M available in the call, which opened earlier this month and closes on 28th June. This is an invitation for outline proposals, and is not being run through Je-S. Applicants must fill in a short form with basic details of applicants, costs and project title as well as a three-page case for support, and send to EPSRC via email before the deadline. However, it’s worth noting that even outline applications should be properly costed before submission, so please contact RBS at an early stage if you intend to apply.

What are they looking for?

They want to see a mix of “people-based” networking and research activities which “complement the work of the DET Network+ ‘New Economic Models in the Digital Economy’” as well as the previously funded Digital Economy grants. The challenges to be addressed in this call are:

  • The Digital Economy and financial services
  • Collaborative consumption
  • Personal data
  • ‘Incomplete’ products and ‘Platform’ offerings

Further details

There are full details in the online guidance notes [PDF]. Outlines must address one or more of these challenges otherwise they’ll be considered outside the remit of the call. It’s also important to note that proposals must include both people-based and research activities (defined in the call guidance notes), not just one or the other.

EPSRC expect to fund 5 grants, suggesting an indicative value of £500K – £1M per grant. This is borne out by the values of the funded grants from the previous round, the maximum value of which is £1.1M, and the mean value is £822K.

Given the interdisciplinary focus this is likely to involve multiple institutions in a single proposal. Further, given the fact that applications must include both people-based and research activities, this would suggest that a duration of 2-3 years would be expected, although EPSRC do not give any indication of maximum length. Again, this is borne out by reviewing durations of previously funded grants, which are all 2-3 years in length.

Another interesting factor to consider is the inclusion of project partners (i.e. non-academic organisations). Given the topics and direction of the call, it’s likely that inclusion of relevant and active project partners will strengthen a bid, although it’s interesting to note that numbers of partners in existing projects varies from 0-21 in any single project.

It’s always essential to consider track record when deciding which institution and PI will lead a bid. Note that all of the grants funded in the previous round were led by research intensives and often included several other strong research institutions in the consortium. There were only a few grants which were based entirely within a single institution, including Cambridge and Imperial.

In line with the interdisciplinary focus of the theme, various disciplines were represented in grants funded under the previous call, including computer sciences, engineering, mathematics, economics and social sciences. This will be essential for the current call, and again it’s worth noting that EPSRC are targeting economics and business researchers for this call.


ICT 2013: Create, Connect, Grow

ICT 2013 Create Connect GrowICT 2013, taking place in Vilnius, Lithuania from 6th – 8th November 2013, is the biggest ICT event in Europe and incorporates a conference, exhibition, networking sessions, investment forum and activities for students and young researchers.

More than 4000 researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, industry representatives, young people and politicians are expected in at the event, which will focus on Horizon 2020 – the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2014-2020.

There are still opportunities available to exhibit your research and innovative projects at the event – there will be 150 stands available and potential exhibitors have until 7th June 2013 to submit their exhibition proposal. The kinds of exhibits they are looking for are:

  • Advanced research projects;
  • Research, technology and innovation projects with high-tech prototype demonstrators;
  • Companies demonstrating innovative products less than 2 year on the market;
  • Information stands about ICT-related activities without technology prototypes.

Potential exhibits should fall under one of the five broad themes of the exhibition: the digitally empowered citizen; smart and sustainable cities for 2020; the industry and business of tomorrow; intelligent connecting intelligence; culture, science and creativity. The exhibition will be accompanied by an art exhibit “where art meets ICT and Futures”.

Any Northumbria staff interested in applying for the exhibition should get in touch asap to discuss their application as it may be that staff can collaborate on a themed exhibition.


EPSRC release raft of new calls

Over the past couple of weeks, EPSRC has released a raft of new calls for proposals across its research remit. The calls range from expressions of interest to attend early stage scoping workshops to large scale centres of excellence. I’ve summarised the key points for each below with a link to find out more. If you’re a Northumbria researcher interested in any of these calls, you should get in touch with RBS at an early stage.

Energy and International Development: Understanding Sustainable Energy Solutions in Developing Countries

Full details: Link

Type of call: Expressions of interest to attend a workshop

Summary: The call has been released in conjunction with DfID. The selected workshop participants will get a chance to refine research priorities in the area of sustainable energy and international development. The overarching goals of the programme are to increase access to clean energy as well as to improve resilience and wealth creation in developing countries. This research will be multidisciplinary and will create transnational research partnerships. Only those who attend the workshop can submit full proposals, which will be due 8th February 2013.

Deadline: 28th September – the workshop takes place 12-14 December in Nairobi, Kenya. The application form is online at the URL above, and is not submitted via Je-S.

Towards an Intelligent Information Infrastructure: Call for Expressions of Interest

Full details: Link

Type of call: Expressions of interest to attend a workshop.

Summary: The theme of intelligent information infrastructures (TI3) has been identified as a priority by EPSRC. This is about planning for a future in which ubiquitous computing, transfer of large amounts of data, and mobile computing are all increasingly prevalent. The workshop is an opportunity to help shape the theme TI3 at a very early stage. It is likely that this would put you in a good position to bid for future funding opportunities which arise in this area, as well as develop networks and partnerships with others in this emerging field. There will be a £5M call for funding in early 2013.

Deadline: 10th October – the workshop takes place 3-4 December in Birmingham. The application form is online at the URL above, and is not submitted via Je-S.

Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research

Full details: Link

Type of call: Centre of excellence award.

Summary: This is a joint call with GCHQ. This follows the first round in 2011 which announced the first centres of excellence in cyber security in March this year. The purpose is to identify institutions where cyber security research is a particular strength, and to highlight any gaps in this area. Centres of excellence are expected to work closely with government stakeholders and the award will raise a successful institution’s profile in cyber security among government and business. Successful applications will receive funding of £40K to support activities associated with their status as a recognised centre of excellence.

Deadline: 12th December – note that the application must be structured according to the template in the guidance. It is emailed, rather than submitted via Je-S.

New Economic Models in the Digital Economy

Full details: Link

Type of call: Intention to submit form in advance of a full proposal via Je-S, to be released on 2nd October.

Summary: The call, part of the cross-council Digital Economy theme (DET), will build research collaborations between the DET and the research communities in economics and management while also supporting transformative, cross-disciplinary research. The call will include input from ESRC-related disciplines. Several research challenges have been identified which successful applications will need to address. These include: business model adaptation; identity, privacy, regulation and trust; value; the role of ‘big data’; societal economic impacts. Proposals must develop both research and people-based activities, described in detail in the call document.

Deadline: Intention to submit must be completed by 19th November 2012. The full proposal, released on 2nd October, must be submitted via Je-S by 11th December 2012.

NSF/EPSRC Chemistry proposals 2012

Full details: Link

Type of call: Collaborative proposals with US-based researchers in chemistry

Summary: The call is joint with the US-based National Science Foundation, and is for US investigators who wish to collaborate with UK counterparts on a joint research project. Submitted proposals must fall within the remit covered by the NSF’s Division of Chemistry and should also be within the remit of the EPSRC Physical Sciences programme. Proposals must be submitted first to the NSF and then to EPSRC. The two funding bodies will jointly decide which proposals are funded.

Deadline: The NSF proposal must be submitted by 1st October or 31st October (depending on which NSF program is relevant). This must then be submitted to EPSRC by 7th November. The NSF proposal must include a Je-S form and Justification for Resources pertinent to the UK investigator.

EPSRC Frontier Engineering Awards

Full details: Link

Type of call: Major institutional level award – up to £25M is available for 5 awards

Summary: Frontier Engineering Awards are institutional awards with a central thematic research focus. Proposals should include a programme of research-led activities, as well as flexible approaches that facilitate collaborations across disciplines. The research theme must be drawn from the EPSRC’s Shaping Capability map for engineering. The central focus must be ambitious, innovative, novel or creative application of principles and processes. An institution can only be named on one bid. Multi-institutional bids are allowed, but the lead must be in receipt of over £30M of current EPSRC research funding. All institutions must demonstrate a strong track record in the relevant thematic area.

Deadline: Outline proposals must be submitted by 2nd October. Selected applicants will then be invited to submit full stage proposals by 4th December and finally invited to interview in early March 2013.


Digital Personhood – sandpit

The Research Councils’ Digital Economy (DE) theme invites expressions of interest from eligible individuals to attend a five-day interactive workshop (sandpit) from 26-30 November 2012 (location TBA).

The aim of the sandpit is to stimulate thinking in promising new areas of DE. The DE theme has allocated up to £5M to fund research arising from the sandpit, to be taken up by genuinely novel and transformative approaches.

The aim of this sandpit is to bring together researchers to create an integrated vision for future research, both those already working on DE, and others whose research could directly contribute. Participants will be expected to engage constructively in dialogue with each other, the facilitators and the Director and Mentors to develop collaborative research proposals.

Research Councils have utilised the sandpit mechanism for a number of high profile strategic partnerships with industry and HM Government Departments and the participants involved rated the experience highly.

Closing date – 24 September 2012 at 4.00pm

For details see the EPSRC website.



Virtual Workshop on Digital Economy and Sustainable Society

The EPSRC, on behalf of the RCUK Digital Economy theme, is inviting expressions of interest to attend a two-stage “virtual workshop” on achieving a work-life balance in a digitally dependent world. Advancements in the digital economy have allowed us to interact and network more than ever, and without regard for spatial and temporal constraints. The question this workshop seeks to address is: has this come at too high a cost on our personal time?

The workshop (or “Creativity Greenhouse“) will take place online in a virtual 3D environment where participants can interact using video and audio. Applicants must submit expressions of interest by 12:00 on 28th May 2012.

The criteria which potential applicants must meet to take part will focus on novel and highly innovative research ideas and the ability to work in a team, collaborating across different disciplines. The intended outcome of the workshop is a number of multidisciplinary and high quality research projects involving the participants. A budget of £1.5M has been set aside for proposals resulting from this event, and the deadline for full proposals will be 13th September 2012.

Here’s some further background to the call, but applicants should read the guidance notes [PDF] in full and contact us for support in putting together their application:

The Digital Economy (DE) has the potential to transform lifestyles and improve quality of life, having an impact on society as a whole… Pressures on work-life balance precede the DE and stem from many facts such as: working harder not smarter; incompatibility between home location choice and employment opportunities; immobility of office environments and resources; inadequacy of (social) support networks; and challenges of accommodating care of children and others. The DE has the potential to restore balance; but is also has the possibility of exacerbating any imbalance. Technological developments harness the art of the possible. However, human behaviour, our understanding of it and its incorporation into technological innovation significantly govern the effects of the DE.


Catapults: From Cell Therapy to Future Cities

The Technology Strategy Board recently announced that the final two Catapult centres will focus on Future Cities and Transport Systems. These centres will join the five already announced in High Value Manufacturing, Cell Therapy, Offshore Renewable Energy, Satellite Applications and the Connected Digital Economy.

According to the TSB, the latest two Catapults will “bring business and research together to accelerate innovation in order to improve services and quality of life in cities, and to develop integrated, efficient and sustainable national transport systems”.

Expressions of interest for the last two areas are due to open this month – registration of interest closed for the Connected Digital Economy Catapult last month. It is expected that all centres will be operational by 2013.

Catapults (formerly known as TICs – Technology Innovation Centres) are “centres of excellence” which “bridge the gap between business, academia, research and government”. If you want to know what they will look like in terms of structure and kinds of partners, take a look at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult which opened for business in October 2011. Funding for the Catapults will come direct from the TSB as well as research contracts with business and industry.