Calling all academic researchers!

Don’t miss out on three great opportunities for academics to work with and learn about Parliament.

Attend Research, Impact and the UK Parliament training and learn how to use academic research to engage with Parliament. Training sessions take place monthly around the UK.

Get involved in UK Parliament Week 2016 (14–20 November). Engage your students, colleagues or local community with democracy, politics and the UK Parliament by running an event or activity.

Apply for a place at Brexit: an academic conference. Share your academic expertise and build networks with parliamentary researchers at this special conference in Westminster on Thursday 10 November.

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Find out more about Participatory Action Research with training days in 2017

collaboration-1106196_960_720Three workshops are being offered by the Participatory Research Hub for those interested in finding out more about this way of researching in collaboration. The workshops are open to those new to and established as researchers in universities, the voluntary and public sectors, communities and activists. Participatory research is an excellent route to research impact and one of the courses focusses on ways to involve policy-makers and practitioners in research that helps to develop policy and practice.

The three courses, all to be held at the Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan’s College, Durham University are:

  • Participatory Action Research 1: Introduction to PAR, 3rd February 2017
  • Participatory Action Research 2: Embedding participation in research practice, 3 March 2017
  • Developing Policy and Practice through Participatory Research, 15 May 2017

To find out more about the workshops and to book your place visit: https://www.dur.ac.uk/socialjustice/events/2017events/

For further advice, information and toolkits about participatory research visit: www.dur.ac.uk/socialjustice/events/  

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Work with and find out about UK Parliament

There are three great opportunities for academics to work with and learn about the UK Parliament coming up in the next couple of months.

Attend “Research, Impact and the UK Parliament” training

Learn how to use academic research to engage with Parliament at our “Research, Impact and the UK Parliament” training events, taking place monthly across the UK.

Get involved in UK Parliament Week 2016, 14th – 20th November

Engage your students, colleagues or local community with democracy, politics and the UK Parliament. Join hundreds of other organizations running events and activities during UK Parliament Week 2016 to explore democracy and empower people.

Apply for a place at “Brexit: an academic conference”

Share your academic expertise and build networks with parliamentary researchers at “Brexit: an academic conference”, taking place in Westminster on Thursday 10th November 2016.

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Research, Impact and the UK Parliament

A training event aimed at researchers at any stage of their careers is being held in Newcastle on 23 September, 10-1.30 run by the UK Parliament Outreach and Engagement Service.

Houses.of.parliament.overall.arpThis interactive session will help you:

  • understand Parliament’s role and processes
  • learn how research is used in the UK Parliament
  • be able to identify opportunities to feed your research into Parliament’s work
  • learn tips and advice on communicating your research at Parliament

There is an attendance fee of £40 and the event is being held at Newcastle University’s Business School. For more information: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/education-programmes/universities-programme/academic-research/ 

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The Benefits of University-Industry Collaborations

Dr Tamsin Saxton, guest blogger
Dr Tamsin Saxton, guest blogger

Guest blogger, Dr Tamsin Saxton, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Northumbria University shares the insights she gained at an event designed to provide information to support academics in creating and capitalising on opportunities to work with industry. Below, she summarises the key take-home points explaining why industry collaborations are useful, possible barriers to these collaborations, and how to go about setting up and developing collaborations.

Benefits of collaborations

Academics and universities have a lot to gain from collaborating with industry, whether that be local small businesses, global enterprises, or something in between. Industry collaborations can add substantive content, innovation, and expertise to research funding applications. In some instances, industry might contribute directly to university projects, perhaps by supplying funding, or making available rich and extensive data sets. The best applied research addresses fundamental real-world problems; one of the best ways to uncover those problems can be through industrial collaborations, and successful resolution of those problems can lead to the kind of impact that may well be needed in the next REF. Industry collaborations can also enhance the student experience, such as through work experience opportunities or guest lecture invitations.

Industry also has a lot to gain from collaborations with universities. Universities can offer the best in cutting-edge research, which can be tremendously exciting to an enterprise which might be using outdated approaches, or might just not have the time and resources to dedicate to innovation. Even the largest organisations often do not have the research capacity to innovate constantly in relation to all of their activities, which is why we see universities collaborating with industries of all shapes and sizes. A university collaboration can be a mark of prestige and value to a business organisation, increasing its value and standing among its competitors, and also in the eyes of evaluators such as investors. Collaborations also provide opportunities for businesses to reflect upon their working practices.

Collaborations with businesses in the North-East of England have their own particular benefits. Compared to the rest of the UK, the North-East has the lowest number of start-up companies per capita. Accordingly, local collaborations can help improve this record, while building the regional economy and innovative capacity, and potentially tackling specific societal and economic challenges.

Barriers to collaboration

The establishment of industrial collaborations, however, entails overcoming a number of barriers. Universities do not always market their expertise well; it can be very difficult for external organisations to find out essential information: the expertise, skills and equipment available; who is available for and interested in collaborations; how to go about making and developing contacts. Universities can appear to be alien, intimidating environments; the idea of the ‘ivory tower’ can be off-putting. In addition, universities can be perceived to be expensive working partners, they have different priorities from businesses, and businesses and universities speak a different language and run on different timescales.

Exploration-Innovation - M Schmidt (CC by 2.0)
Exploration-Innovation – M Schmidt (CC by 2.0)

Developing successful projects

There are a number of ways to try to overcome the barriers to collaboration and develop successful projects. University Business Engagement Managers are very happy to talk to academics and provide support. They can point academics to suitable business representatives who are also keen to encourage new projects that will support businesses. Indeed, it can often be wise to involve a trusted body, such as an organisation that provides representation for a set of industries, in a project or a funding application. This body can guide academics to suitable local contacts, and explain the priorities, schedules, and needs of the particular industry in question. It’s always important to keep in mind that successful projects are only built on successful relationships with people, and so building relationships has to be paramount. Starting with a small project, such as a dissertation project, can be a good way to build trust and knowledge of different working styles and needs. Finding out what the industry needs, and offering to help, is a more effective opening gambit than striding in with a request for money, input, or project commitment. Finally, once the project is up and running, then a few things might help it proceed smoothly: have a clear plan; establish common goals and projects; and build in engagement opportunities such as workshops or seminars where you keep people up to date with the project development and particularly its successes.

The event, ‘ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Capacity Building Event’, was held on 26th April 2016, and hosted by Newcastle University (Business School). This report was written by event delegate Dr Tamsin Saxton, Senior Lecturer in Psychology (https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/our-staff/s/tamsin-saxton)

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Webinar on impact in Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 6

Net4Society, the Network of National Contact Points for Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 6 “Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”, has recorded a webinar on impact in Societal Challenge 6 projects, focusing on how the impact of proposals is assessed by evaluators. It is an hour long but worth a watch if you are developing an application to this Societal Challenge or have a H2020 project proposal with a significant Social Sciences and Humanities element.

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RCUK Global Challenges Research Fund- what we know so far…

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries through:

  • challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research
  • strengthening capacity for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries
  • providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need.

Below are some slides summarising what we know so far…

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Brussels information week on H2020 Societal Challenge 2, 27-29 June

The European Commission will hold an information week from 27 to 29 June on the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 ‘Food Security, Sustainable sugarcaneAgriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy‘.

This will provide opportunities to hear about successful FP7 and Horizon 2020 projects in these areas, to learn about the upcoming Societal Challenge 2 calls and to participate in “brokerage” sessions to meet potential project partners.

Participation is free but you must register by 10 June. If you have an idea for a project in one of these areas and would like to attend this event, please contact your faculty research funding and policy manager. We also have  small “EU networking” fund to support academics to attend events such as these.

 

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