EPSRC Sandpit: New Industrial Systems

A day at BCIT aerospace technology campus by Mike CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A day at BCIT aerospace technology campus by Mike CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A day at BCIT aerospace technology campus by Mike CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

EPSRC is running an Ideas Factory Sandpit on New Industrial Systems in May 2017. The deadline for expressions of interest is 2nd March 2017.

New Industrial Systems Sandpit

What’s the theme?

The sandpit seeks to address the challenge of competitiveness in the future UK economy by focusing on manufacturing technologies and trends. Four research visions have been identified by the Manufacturing the Future theme:

  • Sustainable Industries (e.g. a future where business models take account of resource usage, resilience and security)
  • Digital Manufacturing (e.g. simulation and visualisation of design and manufacturing)
  • 21st Century Products (e.g. smart and multi-functional products)
  • New Industrial Systems, which sits at the intersection of the other three areas

The sandpit aims to build a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges in developing new industrial systems, identify a common language between disciplines, facilitate interactions between researchers and users, and identify and address the key research challenges in this area. It is expected that up to £5M of EPSRC funding will be made available to fund research projects arising from this sandpit.

Who should attend?

EPSRC give the following examples of disciplines which could apply to attend: engineering, design, materials science, physical sciences, mathematics, computer science, economics, social sciences, sustainability, life sciences, energy systems. Attendees need not have worked on the problem before and need not have previously secured EPSRC funding. The emphasis will be on people who are open to explore new ideas and connections with other disciplines.

What will happen at the sandpit?

The Sandpit event itself will take place over five days from 15-19 May 2017 at Stratford Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon. The events will draw on ideas from a broad range of disciplines so attendees should expect to be able to develop relationships with other participants and communicate concepts and ideas in a way that is understandable and engaging to those outside your immediate area.

There is more information in the guidance on how sandpits work, but they are generally very intensive and rewarding experiences which offer an excellent chance of securing funding (as this is restricted to attendees).

How do I apply?

The deadline for expressions of interest to attend the Sandpit is 2nd March 2017. 25-30 participants will be selected and must be available for the full five-day duration. To apply you will need to complete the EoI form on the call page.

Given the high likelihood of securing EPSRC funding as a result of sandpit attendance, these calls are often highly competitive. The assessment will be based on the ability to develop new, adventurous and highly original research; the potential to contribute to research at the interface between disciplines; the ability to work in a team; the ability to explain research to non-experts. You will need to give evidence of your ability to meet these criteria in the EoI.

Please contact your Faculty Research Funding and Policy Manager if you are interested in discussing this further.


Report from Jisc Research Data Management Shared Service Requirements Workshop

Yesterday I travelled down to Birmingham to take part in a Jisc workshop on the proposed Research Data Management (RDM) Shared Services Pilot. The event brought together approximately 70 stakeholders from UK HEIs to discuss requirements for the proposed new Jisc RDM Shared Service. This aims to be a sector response to the issues many institutions are facing around developing and/or procuring systems to manage research data effectively as well as long-term preservation of data (10 years+).

It is likely that the Shared Service will be modular, based around ‘lots’ for different areas of functionality, eg user interface, data storage, data/metadata access, preservation. Different suppliers may provide different aspects of the overall service and institutions will be free to buy into some or all of it, as an ‘off the shelf’ RDM solution.

Ideal RDM System Architecture - Jisc
Ideal RDM System Architecture – Jisc

As well as significant time for group based discussions to feedback on the current proposals, the agenda also featured presentations from 5 different HEIs on their experiences of implementing RDM services. These case studies showed a wide range of approaches to RDM, with everything from a completely bespoke in-house developed system (UCL), to something which involved a range of different external services working together (Lancaster), to an ePrints/Arkivum based solution (Manchester Metropolitan).

The session closed with a description of the pilot process and a call for 6-8 institutions to work with Jisc and external suppliers to develop an RDM shared service to meet institutional and sector requirements. The current plan is that this will be ready to roll out for beta testing in 2017. Involvement in this pilot will be a good opportunity to steer development of this major national research infrastructure project, however Jisc were clear that participation would require buy in at a senior level (PVC Research) as well as across services (IT, Library, Research Office) and academic departments. Apart from full involvement in the pilot there is the opportunity to be involved as a beta testing institution further on in the development process.

This event will be followed on 19/11/15 by an equivalent workshop for suppliers. Feedback from both the stakeholders and suppliers will then be used to refine the list of requirements which will directly inform the tender, to be released by Jisc in early December 2015.



European Investment Bank – Social Innovation Tournament

social inclusionThe Social Innovation Tournament established by the EIB Institute in 2012 is the flagship initiative of its Social Programme. The Tournament seeks to promote the generation of innovative ideas and identify/reward opportunities promising substantial societal benefits or demonstrating best practices with tangible, scalable outcomes. It targets the creation of social value in relation to the fight against social exclusion.

Field covered by the programme include:

  • education and health care
  • natural or urban environment
  • new technologies
  • new systems

Improvements in these fields are critical to business success, and social innovation could have a substantial social impact. With the introduction of a Special Category Prize in 2013, additional emphasis will be given to urban and natural environment.

The 2013 Tournament will take place in Budapest, Hungary in October 2013.

Dealine for submission of proposals is 15 May 2013.

For full details of the Tournament see the European Investment Bank website.