Northumbria Research Forum: Connected Communities

The next Northumbria Research Forum will take place on Monday 25th June 2012 in Room 012 (CCE1) NBS/School of Law at 10.30am.  The  Forum has been designed to provide a simple platform for staff to communicate their research to colleagues and to find out about cognate research that might be of interest.  Presentations are expected to be informal and brief (maximum 10 minutes) and should be designed to inform a general audience about the research interests and activities of a colleague.  Lunch and refreshments will be available.  It is not necessary to attend the full Forum and you are welcome to join/leave the Forum as teaching and other commitments allow.  Northumbria staff interested in attending should contact Simon Smith in Research and Business Services.

Theme: Connected Communities

This rubric has, of course, been the title of a programme of cross research council work coordinated by the AHRC.  Their focus was “research to understand the changing nature of communities and community values, in their historical and cultural contexts and the role (positive and negative) of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life. This enhanced understanding will also inform the development of more effective ways to support and catalyse community cultures and behaviours that contribute towards flourishing communities and addressing key economic and societal challenges”.

That seems pretty comprehensive – if not boundless – and for many social scientists would probably embrace the whole of their discipline!  In this forum we want to draw in research from across the University which could address some of the following issues:

  • How do communities function and organise themselves?
  • What is the role of digital and so-called ‘social media’ in contributing to community life – economic, social or cultural?
  • How might the physical design of communities, their architecture and environment, enhance their quality of life?
  • What are the economic or commercial drivers that help communities function, connect with each other, or thrive?
  • How can engineering or technology assist in the growth of connectedness within or between communities?
  • How can sustainability and the future of the environment impact on or be affected by the development of communities?
  • What part can heritage or art play in the forging of community identity and connectedness?
  • Can the ‘creative economy’ play a role in the development of communities?

This will indicate just how broad a field is being suggested, and there is no intention that this Forum should be limited by the boundaries of the programme.  If your research in any way addresses these or related themes it would certainly be of great interest.


Care for the Future: Thinking forward through the past

The AHRC has issued a call for research grants within the theme of Care for the Future. This call specifically focuses on  arts and humanities led research which provides new insights on the challenges of enviornmental change and sustainability through a “temporally-inflected lens”:

Care for the Future Highlight Notice [PDF]

This is another of AHRC’s “Emerging Themes” which are attached to a number of schemes, including Networks and Fellowships, but this is the only instance where researchers can apply for a standard research grant (or the early-career variety) with a highlight notice. This means it’s possible to undertake a very significant research project under this scheme as research grants allow applicants to request more resources than Fellowships or Networks.

In this case, the normal grant limit of £1M has been raised to £1.5M for the standard research grant route (the limit for early career grants remains at £250K). This reflects the fact that research which draws on disciplines outside the traditional arts and humanities remit is particularly welcome – although all applications must of course be led by arts and humanities research. The opportunity is open until 30th October 2012.

‘Environmental change’ is defined broadly and includes climate change, environmental hazards, agriculture and food security, water,landscape and natural resources. The issues may be at any environmental scale and be focused geographically anywhere in the globe. ‘Sustainability’ is also defined broadly but with particular reference to inter-generational relationships, and the broader ways in which the past, the present and the future inter-relate, in respect to issues of environmental change. There is no limit to how far back in time (or how far forward in the future) the temporal horizon may reach, but proposals must demonstrate a significant temporal dimension which extends beyond contemporary or near contemporary themes.


ARTEMIS 2012 Call: Embedded Systems

The ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking, a European public-private partnership for research funding in embedded systems, has just released its 2012 call for funding. The deadline for full proposals is 6th September 2012.

You can read a summary of the call on the ARTEMIS 2012 call page. Full details can be found on the EU Participant Portal call page – you should read Work Programme Part A if you’re interested in the sub-programmes (areas of research around real-world applications of embedded systems) and Part B if you’re interested in the innovation pilot projects (technology development for user and business needs in the area of embedded systems).

Areas of Interest

The sub-programmes are (see Work Programme Part A for a full explanation of what is expected in each area):

Methods and processes for safety-relevant embedded systems
Embedded Systems for Healthcare and Wellbeing
Embedded systems in Smart environments
Embedded Systems for manufacturing and process automation
Computing platforms for embedded systems
Embedded Systems for Security and Critical Infrastructures Protection
Embedded Systems supporting sustainable urban life
Human-centred design of embedded systems

The innovation pilot programme priorities are (see Work Programme Part B for a full explanation):

Critical Systems Engineering Factories
Innovative Integrated Care Cycles
Seamless communication and interoperability – Smart environments: the Neural System for society
Production and Energy Systems Automation
Computing platforms for embedded systems
“Intelligent-Built” environment and urban infrastructure for sustainable and “friendly” cities

Eligibility Issues

To apply you’ll need at least three organisations from three participating member states (see the eligibility criteria for more on this). For the UK, universities can be involved but you’ll also need a UK-based industrial partner, because the UK element of the call is coordinated by the Technology Strategy Board.

In terms of costs, universities can claim up to 80% FEC, but note that the total consortium funding can only be up to 50% of total project costs – so industrial partners and SMEs would have to claim proportionately less to balance the budget. In addition, UK academics can only apply if they have previously held an EPSRC grant and the ARTEMIS application is a continuation of this research.

Please get in touch for support and advice if you’re interested in developing a project for this call.

What’s an embedded system?

Embedded systems are technologies which are part of everyday artefacts and systems: “from children’s toys and mobile phones to space probes and from transportation vehicles to healthcare systems.” Embedded systems play a key role in the “internet of things” which describes the potential virtual network of connections between real-life objects using, for example, radio frequency ID tags.

One frequently cited example of the benefits of embedded systems within an internet of things is the internet-enabled fridge. If a refrigerator was able to monitor its contents, then it could know when you are running short on milk and notify you to pick some up on your way home – or even automatically place an order with your local supermarket and have it delivered. It’s not just fridges and food, though, embedded systems could potentially revolutionise our way of life, reducing waste and improving a wide range of systems that humans interact with on a daily basis.


Connected Communities Research Development Workshop

The AHRC’s Connected Communities programme is hosting a research development workshop on 22nd – 24th May at Paintworks in Bristol. The theme is communities, cultures, environments and sustainability and the workshop is being hosted in collaboration with the Living With Environmental Change cross-council research partnership.

The workshop brief [PDF] has full details, but participants will be expected to work across disciplinary boundaries to identify and define challenges and opportunities, explore future research agendas in this area, and start to outline collaborative funding proposals. This is in essence the AHRC’s version of the EPSRC’s Sandpit events which are similarly interdisciplinary and usually based around a “grand challenge” or research theme.

Here’s what the AHRC say about the event:

The overall aim of the workshop will be to stimulate the development of innovative proposals for transformative, cross-disciplinary, community-engaged research with the potential to make a significant contribution to the ways diverse communities respond to the challenges posed by environmental change, supports the transition of communities towards more sustainable ways of living and cultivates the development of sustainable environments, places and spaces in which community life can flourish. The workshop will foster cross-disciplinary and collaborative approaches by bringing together researchers from a wide range of disciplines and other experts from policy and practice communities. A key theme will be the potential to engage with diverse cultural communities in all stages of the research.

Potential participants need to write a short two page expression of interest to apply to be part of this workshop, the deadline for which is 25th April. Full details on how to apply are again given in the brief, but please contact us if you’re interested and would like support and comments on your EoI.


Northumbria Research Forum: Climate and the Environment

The next Northumbria Research Forum will take place on Friday 24th February, on the theme of Climate and the Environment.

Climate change and its impact on the way we live may well be the most pressing issue facing humankind.  Research into ways of living, social and physical planning of our environment, legal, technological, environmental and social aspects of climate in our lives all invite research and analysis. This forum will offer an opportunity to present existing research and consider ways forward.

The Research Forums provide a simple platform for staff to communicate their research to colleagues and to find out about cognate research that might be of interest. They provide an opportunity to bring Northumbria’s research community together around a variety of research themes and disciplines, and to reflect issues and topics where research originating from diverse disciplinary bases might be taken further in collaboration.

Presentations are expected to be informal and brief (maximum 10 minutes) and should be designed to inform a general audience about the research interests and activities of a colleague. PowerPoint facilities will be available, but are not encouraged.

The Forum takes place on the 24th February and is scheduled from 10.30am – 2.30pm, although it may conclude with lunch dependant on final numbers attending. It will be held in Room 205, Sutherland Building. Lunch and refreshments will be available.  It is not necessary to attend the full Forum and you are welcome to join/leave the Forum as teaching committments allow. All Northumbria University staff who wish to attend should register on the forum website.