GW4 Vision unveiled at regional showcase event

November 3, 2017

Great West Research and Innovation Day deemed “a fantastic opportunity”

Senior management, prominent researchers and doctoral students from four of the UK’s most research-intensive universities came together to discuss the new GW4 Vision and showcase innovative projects at the Great West Research and Innovation Day on 1 November 2017.

The event, organised by the GW4 Alliance (the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter), took place at the Assembly Rooms, Bath, and included keynote speeches from David Sweeney, Executive Chief Designate of Research England, and Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, Chief Executive of Innovate UK.

Celebrating success

The day was opened by Professor Nick Talbot, Chair of the GW4 Council and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact) at University of Exeter, who provided an overview of GW4 success to date, including:

  • £2.3m GW4 investment in 68 research communities exploring a variety of global challenges from quantum technologies to post-truth politics. These communities have successfully leveraged a further £27m in research awards and investment, with a further £38m in progress.
  • 31 collaborative doctoral training programmes established by the GW4 Alliance, spanning all UK Research Councils, offering industry placements with over 350 organisations.

Dr Sarah Perkins, GW4 Director, launched the GW4 Vision, which outlines how the research alliance will develop pioneering, collaborative endeavours to drive innovation and economic growth across the Great West region and beyond until 2025.

David Sweeney provided an insightful overview of Research England, the broader UKRI landscape and what universities can expect from REF2021.

Call for ‘GW4 advocates’

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Outgoing Chair of GW4 Council and President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Bath, opened the afternoon session, reflecting on her leadership of the alliance and asking attendees to become advocates for GW4 and “challenge us to grow as an organisation”.

A panel chaired by Professor Mark Goodwin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) at University of Exeter, put a spotlight on strategic research and innovation initiatives, including the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies, Bristol’s Temple Quarter Campus, the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult and University of Bath’s Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems.

Delegates also heard lightning talks on innovative GW4 initiatives, including: GW4 Bridging the Gap, GW4 Water Security Alliance, GW4 Facility for High-Resolution Cyro-Microscopy, Isambard HPC, GW4 Children and Young People’s Suicide and Self-Harm Research Collaboration and WISE CDT.

Closing the day, Dr Ruth McKernan CBE’s keynote speech emphasised Innovate UK’s mission to deliver economic growth and address the productivity challenge.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell said: “The Great West Research and Innovation Day provided a fantastic opportunity to reflect on GW4’s success to date and discuss how we can realise our future ambitions as a research alliance. I would particularly like to thank our keynote speakers, David Sweeney and Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, who delivered inspiring clarion calls to develop research which meets the principles of excellence and vigour and to strengthen innovative industry partnerships.”

Dr Ruth McKernan CBE said: “It was great to attend the Great West Research and Innovation Day. It was fantastic to see the way the member institutions of GW4 work together and collaborate closely with business. Wales and the west of England has innovation at its heart, with clusters of excellence in neuroscience, compound semiconductors and digital technologies. These are the kind of sectors that the UK needs to nurture as we enter the fourth industrial revolution.”

David Sweeney said: “GW4 is a successful and productive research collaboration.  Research England, working with the other UKRI Councils, looks forward to building on what has been achieved to support greater university/business collaboration which address global, national and regional priorities. The power of our universities, working together, is essential to provide highly-graduates, raise productivity, and stimulate economic growth.”