EPSRC Expressions of Interest: Building a Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing Community & Physical Sciences ECRs

Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0
Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0
Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0

EPSRC have recently issued two calls for expressions of interest for workshops:

  1. Building a Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing Community: “The workshop will be highly multidisciplinary as well as bringing together those who are developing platforms and standards with researchers deploying and evaluating in real world environments. Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (PUC) is the fundamental and applied research that aims achieve the integration of computing into any device in any location that interacts with our lives… This will require novel computer science and engineering while incorporating research from the social sciences, humanities and law.” If you would like to attend the workshop then complete the short EOI form on the webpage: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/calls/puccommunityworkshopeoi/ Deadline: 14th Feb 2018
  2. Physical Sciences Early Career Researchers Workshops: “The workshops will provide an update to EPSRC and Physical Sciences strategies and will communicate recent and upcoming policy changes, such as the New Investigator Awards. The workshops will be attended by a number of EPSRC staff but also by experienced academics and current or previous Early Career Fellowship holders from across the Physical Sciences portfolio who will provide guidance and mentoring.” If you’re not sure which research areas are included in EPSRC’s Physical Sciences remit, you can check here. The process for applying to attend is the same as above – complete the short EOI form on the webpage: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/calls/psecrworkshopseoi/ Deadline: 31st Jan 2018

 

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EPSRC Strategic Advisory Body Recruitment: 2 Weeks Left To Apply!

EPSRC is recruiting applicants for its strategic advisory bodies from academia, industry and other stakeholders. There are vacancies for various career stages across the EPSRC themes of: Digital Economy, Energy, Engineering, Fusion, Healthcare Technologies, Information Communication Technologies, Manufacturing the Future, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Research Infrastructure. Applications are made by individuals on an online web form, and must be submitted by Friday 4th August, 4pm.

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Public Affairs and Media Training Opportunity for EPSRC-Funded Researchers

Pappers by Flashflash CC BY-SA

EPSRC is currently advertising an opportunity to apply for a place on a Public Affairs and Media Training course to run on 3rd – 4th October 2017:

https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/calls/risemakingconnections/

RISE: Making Connections will:

  • Provide the opportunity for EPSRC researchers to make connections across a range of Stakeholders to help promote EPS to a wider audience
  • Support individuals in maximising their potential and making their own connections
  • Provide political awareness training and media training

The opportunity is open only to researchers currently supported via EPSRC grants. The deadline for applications is 31st July 2017.

Application is via a web-form at the link above but you also need to include a signed statement which includes a signature from the University Research Office to confirm the grant, so please get in touch with your Faculty RFPM as soon as possible if you’re interested in applying.

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EPSRC Introduces New Investigator Award Scheme to Replace First Grant

Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0
Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0
Laser diffraction monofotogrammetry by Jorma Palmen CC BY-SA 4.0

Today the EPSRC has announced it is introducing a New Investigator Award Scheme to replace the First Grant Scheme.

The First Grant scheme will close on 24th July 2017 at 4pm and the New Investigator Awards will open on 25th July 2017. Like the First Grant there are no deadlines for the NIA scheme.

The full details are available here and I have summarised the main changes below:

https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/applicationprocess/routes/newac/new-investigator-award/

Eligibility

Like the First Grant scheme, the NIA scheme is directed at individuals who have “recently acquired their first academic lectureship position, have not previously led an academic research group or been the recipient of a significant grant”. There is no specific requirement around time since PhD or time since first academic post in the NIA scheme.

Regarding previous grants, the wording is “Applicants should not hold, or have held, grants or industry sponsorship which have provided funds to set up a research group. This includes any previous funding which provides PDRA time, equipment over £10k or, normally, any research grant over £100,000.” I’ve checked with EPSRC and they’ve told me that someone who has received, say, £15k from the Royal Society Research Grants scheme would be eligible.

Like the First Grant, an application to the NIA scheme should be your first application to EPSRC as Principal Investigator (except Postdoctoral Fellowships, overseas travel grants or unsuccessful Early Career Fellowships).

Size/structure of projects

The limit of £125k FEC has been removed to provide more flexibility. EPSRC have indicated that projects would typically comprise a PI (for a proportion of time, e.g. 20% FTE) plus a PDRA for 1-3 years. Normally Co-Is are not permitted, unless they clearly bring complementary skills to the project and are from a different discipline to the PI.

There is a significant emphasis on career development and university support which “should be appropriate to the foundation of a research group, including allocation of resources (e.g. students, access to facilities, PDRA time etc.)”. In recent First Grant bids we have generally been seeing positive reviewer comments about the level of support offered for applicants, but given this is a revised scheme we will need to review this.

There is further information on the scheme available at the link above and in the FAQs. Research Funding and Policy Managers will be contacting all staff who have expressed an interest in or are developing an application for the scheme, but in the meantime Northumbria staff should please contact us if you have any questions.

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AHRC/EPSRC: Research and Partnership Development call for the Next Generation of Immersive Experiences

Digifest VR by Jisc CC BY-NC-ND

AHRC and EPSRC have recently announced a call to develop a research programme to bring together organisations within the creative economy with researchers from both the arts and humanities communities and beyond:

Research and Partnership Development call for the Next Generation of Immersive Experiences

“This is not a technology-only research programme, nor one exploring interfaces but a programme to explore the new technology-enabled, multi-sensory, narrative, interpretative, and performance experiences that will drive future creative and commercial value. This will require interdisciplinary working between the Arts and Humanities and other disciplines from Psychology to Engineering, and inter-sector working between researchers, creative practitioners, and businesses.”

They would like proposals addressing this call to focus on:

  • Memory – how can new immersive experiences extend the access, interpretation and reach of memorybased institutions such as museum, galleries, archives and collections?
  • Place – what new experiences can be created by the combination of immersive technology and place based services?
  • Performance – what new creative practices are enabled by immersive technology, what new experiences can be offered to audiences and how can this transform or extend models of performance?

Applications are invited for a total full economic costs of up to £75,000 and lasting between 6 and 9 months. The deadline for proposals is 5th October 2017. Full details are given in the call document.

There are briefing events happening this week and next, and there is a webinar next Friday: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/ahrc-and-epsrc-13956090539

Please contact us if you’re interested in applying to this call.

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Cross-Disciplinarity and Co-Creation in ICT Research – New EPSRC Call

Design-for-Engaged-Experience-by-Mads-Boedker-CC-BY-2.jpg
Design for Engaged Experience by Mads Boedker CC BY

EPSRC have recently published an advance announcement for a call which they first trailed in their February review of research areas.

Summary: The Cross-Disciplinarity and Co-Creation in ICT Research call “seeks to encourage active collaboration between researchers working in different disciplines and/or with users of research. The ICT landscape has rich opportunities for closer working between disciplines and many of the most exciting opportunities emerge at the interface between established areas. Cross-disciplinary research includes novel collaboration within the ICT community, with researchers across the EPSRC portfolio and with researchers funded by other research councils. It also includes collaboration with users of research. Co-creation is the joint creation of a research project by collaborators.”

How much: Up to £5M is available for the call and EPSRC expects to fund 6-10 programmes of work, suggesting somewhere between £500K-£750K per project is the expected size.

Eligibility: The PI must be “a member of the ICT research community”, and the proposal must include ICT research. But, given the title, it must also demonstrate evidence of cross-disciplinarity and co-creation. I assume there will be questions and answers on precisely how one should or could demonstrate this at the information event (see below). Any investigator can only appear on one proposal, either as PI or Co-I.

How do I find out more: An information event is taking place on 4th May at Amba Hotel, Charing Cross, London, the day after the call launches. You need to book a place by emailing EPSRC Events by 28th April. You should also read the full call specification.

What are the timescales: There is a call for outlines which opens on 3rd May and closes on 14th June. Then the outline panel meets 31st July – 1st August to rank these against the outline proposal criteria. Following this decisions are made about which proposals to take forward to the full call which closes on 27th September. This means anyone invited to submit to the second stage will have to devote substantial time over peak holiday period (August) to preparing a detailed proposal.

Please contact your Research Funding and Policy Manager to discuss further if you are interested in submitting a proposal. Demonstration of strong institutional support is one of the key criteria for this call, so it’s important this aspect is considered carefully at an early stage.

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RCUK Energy Programme Regional Meeting – Notes and Observations

Hybrid system by Nenad Kajić
Hybrid system by Nenad Kajić CC BY-SA
Hybrid System by Nenad Kajić CC BY-SA

Last week I traveled down to Leeds to take part in the RCUK Energy Programme Regional Meeting. Although this was billed as a Research Councils UK event, EPSRC were definitely running the show, with an hour of the morning session dedicated to a presentation by Kathryn Magnay, Energy Theme Lead at EPSRC and most of the afternoon devoted to breakout sessions on different topics by various EPSRC Portfolio and Programme Managers.

The Energy Programme is a cross-Council collaborative effort to “position the UK to meet its energy and environmental targets and policy goals through high quality research and postgraduate training.” Alongside EPSRC, which leads the theme, BBSRC, STFC, NERC and ESRC are also involved in co-funding some programmes, as well as Innovate UK and BEIS.

Apart from EPSRC input, there were nine short presentations from Northern universities, including Leeds, Sheffield, York, Newcastle, Durham, and Northumbria. These gave a brief snapshot of energy-related research activity at the respective institutions and suggested that there is a diverse and thriving programme of research in this area.

Key messages:

  • The Energy theme will shift from predominantly managed calls to responsive mode funding. The EPSRC’s Council has a target of 60% Energy theme funding to be driven by the research community via responsive mode grant applications by the end of the delivery plan. However, there are no plans to establish separate panels for Energy themed applications. Normally they will be considered by Engineering panels (or Physical Sciences/Materials where this is the main focus). At the moment, the Energy applications will be ranked in the same ordered list as other types of proposals, but if there is sufficient demand then EPSRC will consider setting up a separate list for Energy themed bids.
  • EPSRC staff gave an overview of the three main responsive mode grant schemes: Standard Grants, Fellowship Grants, and First Grants: Standard grants are often collaborative and in the region of £500k – £1.2M, although smaller and larger values are possible; Fellowships support the development of future research leaders; First Grants are small short grants designed to kickstart your research career as an independent academic.
  • There was a summary of success rates for various schemes compared with all proposals submitted to the Energy theme:
    Establish Fellowships 60%
    Early Career Fellowships 22%
    Postdoctoral Fellowships 21%
    Standard Grants 37%
    First Grants 29%
    All Energy Proposals 35%
  • A session dedicated to Fellowships emphasized the focus is on the candidate and their potential for future leadership, and that the Fellowship should enable you to achieve your personal research vision, your “niche”, and that you should have the ambition to build a team around you and also engage with the public/media. There is up to 12 months allowed in a Fellowship for a secondment to another academic institution or industry. EPSRC would like to see more Fellowship applications in the Energy theme.
  • Equality and diversity is a major priority for this theme following the revelation that only 11% of PIs funded through the Energy theme are female. To help achieve this, there will be a “Diversity Challenge Call” of up to £5M for projects which demonstrate a step-change in the community towards E&D. A call for outline proposals will open in July 2017 and EPSRC will be looking for institutional-level bids.
  • The EPSRC’s recently completed Balancing Capability exercise was pitched as a chance to “create space for new activities”. With regards to the “grow, reduce, maintain” labels, participants were encouraged to read the underpinning description which is unique for each of the 111 research areas and reveals the strategy for each area. Of the energy-related areas, it was noted that “Storage” and “Materials for Energy Applications” are both labelled “Grow”, while “Fuel Cells” is “Reduce”.
  • There are likely to be more Energy-related opportunities available through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, for which priority areas are currently being finalised. Three relevant challenge areas are “New energy technologies”, “Integrated and Sustainable Cities” and “Robotics and Artificial Intelligence”, which has a focus on battery research.
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