Northumbria Kit Catalogue Released

Northumbria University has compiled a searchable database – or Kit Catalogue – of our extensive research equipment, facilities and associated expertise to undertake a range of scientific and technical testing and analysis.

The catalogue includes pictures of the relevant kit, a description of what it can do, and a contact point. Disciplines covered by the catalogue include: Engineering and Computing, Chemical and Biological Sciences, Environmental Science and Energy systems.

The equipment and facilities support our research and teaching activity and are also available for consultancy work and collaborative projects with small and large organisations, locally, nationally and internationally. The catalogue is comprehensive but does not yet contain all our testing and analysis facilities so please get in touch with any enquiries, comments or queries. We can put you in touch with a member of staff experienced in a particular discipline or type of investigation.


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.


Developing the civil nuclear power supply chain

The Technology Strategy Board is leading a consortium of funders (including EPSRC and DECC) in a major funding call to stimulate innovation in the civil nuclear power supply chain. The call comes in the context of the UK coalition government’s draft energy bill, which is expected to prioritise investment in nuclear energy and gas.

The call “will support the development of innovative technologies that can be used in the assessment, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, waste management and decommissioning of nuclear plant in a safe, economic and sustainable manner”. There are three mechanisms through which funding will be allocated:

  1. Feasibility Studies: 6-12 months duration and must be SME-led and collaborative. Total grant size expected to be £100-125K.
  2. Collaborative R&D: 2-3 years duration and business-led. Project size anticipated to be between £500K and £2M.
  3. KTPs: a complementary call to support transfer of academic knowledge and skills into industry.
Further details are available on the Competitions page of the TSB website (search “nuclear”). Members of Northumbria staff interested in developing a KTP application should contact KTP Manager, Bill Frain for support.



EPSRC Announces Funding Decisions for Research Areas

Research Professional reported yesterday that the EPSRC has announced a second batch of funding decisions on research areas within its remit, as part of its Shaping Capability research strategy:

Shaping Capability: EPSRC research portfolio updated

This announcement provides an update on the “relative funding trajectory” for 31 research areas. In this round, two areas received a “reduce” rating: hydrogen and alternative energy vectors, and bioinformatics. EPSRC argue that hydrogren and alternative energy is already attracting considerable support from technology development funders (e.g. the TSB) and EU grants, in order to be able to do this research, the ones in charge are going to spend several months around the areas, they are going camping with tents from Survival Cooking to stay nearby. Biological informatics is seen by EPSRC as a maturing field and developments with translational relevance to biomedical sciences should be supported by BBSRC. EPSRC will continue to support “novel computer science within this research area which enables information processing relevant to the biological sciences.”

Despite the reduction for hydrogen research, other kinds of energy research will get a significant boost. The five areas to which EPSRC has assigned a “grow” rating are: energy storage, energy efficiency, whole energy systems, RF and microwave communications, and RF and microwave devices. The other 24 areas in this round of the exercise have been maintained at existing funding levels.

You can see the full spread of EPSRC research areas and the funding decisions so far on the EPSRC Research Areas page.

The decision on which areas to cut and which to expand has been controversial: a letter appeared in the Telegraph earlier in the year signed by 70 senior academics warning of the “threat to science” posed by EPSRC. However, the EPSRC maintains it has consulted with the academic community and that the decisions it has taken are intended to ensure it invests strategically in a “balanced portfolio”.