The GW4 Domestic Energy Consumption Group


Project period: July – November 2016

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Dr Ian Walker
University of Bristol: Chris Preist
Cardiff University: Wouter Poortinga
University of Exeter: Aleksander Pavic

Project overview

Energy networks are scaled for a short window of peak demand in the early evening. This is costly for operators, whose infrastructure is essentially over specified most of the time. And there are serious environmental consequences: it is gas and coal power stations that ramp up to meet peak demand.

These issues could be addressed if domestic users shifted some high-consumption behaviours away from peak times. Time-varying prices are one possible mechanism to push consumers to do this, and these will imminently become feasible with national smart-meter rollouts.

However, trials of variable tariffs have so far seen only limited behaviour change. Notably, these trials have been small and the tariffs have been implemented without reference to end-user psychology – particularly the literature on how people (don’t) understand their own energy consumption.

Except for one study, non-financial incentives for time-shifting have not yet been explored and there is only one study on how time-varying information might be interpreted. At the policy level, we need research on whether variable tariffs and smart metering might introduce issues of energy justice and data privacy. Filling such knowledge gaps could provide a transformational shift in energy practice and policy.

Water Security Alliance


Project period: January 2017 – February 2018

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Jan Hofman
University of Bristol: Thorsten Wagener
Cardiff University: Isabelle Durance
University of Exeter: Zoran Kapelan

Project overview

The Water Security Alliance is a large regional alliance of academics from the four GW4 institutions, together with stakeholders, with a common vision of addressing the impact of global change on water to benefit people and ecosystems.

Visit our website for more information: 

Water security means making sure that there is enough water of the right quality in the right place at the right time for people, farming, businesses and environment.

Due to an expanding population – and increasing social, economic and cultural activities that place pressure on our water resources – water security has been identified by the World Economic Forum as the biggest long-term danger facing the world over the next decade.

The Water Security Alliance fosters research excellence, shares infrastructure and builds long-term partnerships to tackle global water security challenges. Taken together, the multi-disciplinary expertise of our 160 researchers, the complementary state-of the art infrastructure in water science, as well as our combined stakeholder partnership portfolio, put the Water Security Alliance in a quite unique and competitive position.  As an Alliance we are the largest UK water research consortium and one of the largest worldwide.

New Paradigms of Social Protection: Policies, Impacts and Outcomes

Initiator Fund

Project period: February – May 2016

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Rana Jawad
University of Bristol: Patricia Kennett
Cardiff University: Rod Hick

Project overview

This project aims to build an interdisciplinary GW4 community around the international and comparative study of social protection in regions of the world that are often left underexplored in academic research: the Middle East and North Africa, East and South East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

We will investigate countries with diverse levels of development and income, culture and institutional capacity and social protection strategies. The collaboration takes forward the theme of social protection as a new model of public policy among international donor agencies and governments across these regions. Focusing on social protection reopens long-standing gaps in knowledge and highlights dynamic policy changes not yet addressed by the literature.

Understanding social protection provision is significant not only to appreciate the social rights and standard of living enjoyed by different populations, but also to state building and stability.


GW4 Cancer Research Consortium

Initiator Fund

Project period: February – May 2016

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Dr Adele Murrell, Dr Lorenzo Caggiano
University of Bristol: Professor Paul Martin, Dr Axel Walther  
Cardiff University:
Dr Matt Smalley
University of Exeter: Dr David Allard, Dr Jackie Whatmore, Professor Willie Hamilton

Project overview

The GW4 Cancer Research Consortium aims to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration, by capitalising on the breadth of complementary expertise and high-impact cancer research across GW4. Translating cancer discoveries into cures is a major public health challenge worldwide, and in the last two decades advances in diagnosis, treatment and care have led to longer survival times for a number of different cancers. As the ageing population continues to grow, cancer will only increase as a serious social and economic health challenge.

Within the GW4 universities there is already substantial research effort into the environmental and lifestyles causes of cancer, the contribution of genetics, biochemistry and cell biological processes to the aetiology of a wide range of malignancies. There is also research into the prevention and pharmaceutical intervention in cancer.

We aim to identify resources required to underpin large strategic grant applications, and establish a cross-centre non-clinical doctoral training programme in cancer complementing the work of GW4 Clinical Academic Training Community.

Pre-clinical Translational Biomedical Research Network

Initiator Fund

Project period: February – May 2016

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Dr T Perry, Dr R Gill
University of Bristol: Professor Raimondo Ascione
Cardiff University:
Dr Chris Marshall, Dr Derek Jones
University of Exeter: Professor John Terry

Project overview

Historically as little as 2% of fundamental scientific discoveries have progressed from the bench to the bedside. This is an issue of the UK system, with substantial research funding not being transformed into patient, societal, and economical benefits. We aim to boost the development of discoveries, and test their safety and efficacy in novel research facilities aligned to NHS, Home Office, and GLPMA standards, to facilitate their translation to the bedside.

We offer a unique pipeline of pre-clinical research models highly relevant to human disease and anatomy and state-of-the-art research equipment, with more than 150 biomedical scientists and experts. Via this community we will have a unique chance to work together to develop new therapeutic agents and devices to be tested as a final-step validation prior to first-in-man testing.

GWA: Great Western Astrophysics community

Initiator Fund

Project period: February – May 2016

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Professor Carole Mundell
University of Bristol: Professor Malcolm Bremer
Cardiff University:
Professor Jonathan Davies
University of Exeter: Professor Tim Naylor

Project overview

This project aims to build closer collaboration between the GW4 astrophysics groups. The primary aim is to enhance our impact in the large partnerships that are building the next generation of astronomical observatories, in addition to to improving our efficiency by working together.

The research challenges are those central to contemporary astrophysics; how galaxies, stars and planets form, the opportunities for life elsewhere in the universe, and ultimately explaining the fundamental laws of physics.

GW4 Coding

Initiator Fund

Project period: February – May 2016

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: James Davenport
University of Bristol: Ian Holyer, Nick Wu
Cardiff University:
Pete Burnap
University of Exeter: Richard Everson, Mike Baldwin

Project overview

The Prime Minister has stated that he wants to make the UK the best place in the world to do internet business. To do this we need the best-trained staff. The new National Curriculum in England, and similar initiatives in Wales, are a partial response to this staffing need.

A particular focus of Government policy has been Cybersecurity, with a variety of initiatives in this area. However, there is little research in the U.K. on the training of teaching programming (particularly high-quality, secure, programming), and on the technology that could underpin this.

The Incentives for Conflict and Cooperation

Initiator Fund

Project period: February – May 2016

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Dr Peter Postl
University of Bristol: Dr Francesco Giovannoni
Cardiff University:
Professor Indrajit Ray
University of Exeter: Professor Rajiv Sarin

Project overview

Game theory is the ideal tool for the analysis of the underlying incentives for conflict or cooperation. It has a vast number of applications, from understanding the issues of adoption and diffusion of green technologies, to the structure of international coalitions, to the political constraints underlying economic inequality, to development economics. Our GW4 community aims to tackle both the methodological challenges in bringing game theory to bear on these issues and applying the lessons learned to relevant policy debates.

GW4 Consortium: Analysis of Intensively Collected Health Data

Initiator Fund

Project period: September 2015 – January 2016

GW4 community leads
University of Bath:
Dr Nicole Augustin
University of Bristol: Professor Kate Tilling
Cardiff University: Professor Kerry Hood
University of Exeter: Professor William Henley

Project overview

Intensive data collection is made increasingly possible by technological innovation, including ‘apps’ on smartphones. However, the amount of data collected is far outstripping the ability of researchers to analyse such data. Intensively-collected data could help people to better manage their own health, and allow us to really move into the era of personalised medicine.

We will build a GW4 community of statisticians, mathematicians, data scientists and epidemiologists who are developing and applying methods for analysing intensively collected data. This innovative collaboration will bring together methodologists with those developing health sensors, and end users of the complex data, both within and beyond healthcare.

By building a community across institutions and including diverse areas of application, we will enable development and dissemination of new methods, implementation of best practice and sharing of datasets.

URL: Understanding Religion and Law

Initiator and Accelerator Fund

Project period: September 2015 – January 2016, July 2016 – March 2017

GW4 community leads
University of Bath:
Dr Scott Thomas
University of Bristol: Professor Julian Rivers
Cardiff University: Professor Norman Doe
University of Exeter: Professor Robert Gleave

Project overview

The relationship between religion and law remains an under researched area, and yet it is at the forefront of policy issues in the UK and internationally.  Society and governments (through the law) have regularly sought to control and promote religious practices in the “public interest”.  Increased British religious diversity has given rise to fundamental questions about law and its role in society.  Furthermore, an increased awareness of religion and its role in the creation of international values and laws challenges the “secular” societies which aim to separate religion from the law.

Through the work of the project we aim to address the issues of who an inclusive, innovative and reflective society which recognises religious diversity might be further developed.  We believe this is central to an understanding of what British identity might mean, and how the diversity of British society might be recognised, and the mechanisms whereby a more cohesive society might be developed.

Our aims:

  1. To develop a detailed, interdisciplinary, research programme, using the insights of the first URL project (10/15-3/16) examining how British Muslims obtain religious and legal advice (fatwas) from traditional legal experts (muftis), and how this advice is used by those seeking advice in their religious and community life. The objective is to complete and submit this application by the community end date.
  2. To deepen the research relationships developed in the first URL project between GW4 researchers working in the area of religion and law such that additional collaborative projects might be explored, and a supportive peer-review process of Religion and Law projects is established. The objective is that four GW4 sandpit sessions will have been held where collaborative research projects and outputs in the area of religion and law will have been peer-reviewed by the expertise present in the GW4 institutions.

We have made 4 videos in conjunction with Lonewolf films:


Human Rights