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Empowering collaborative communities: new GW4 Development Awards fuel innovation

Five collaborative Development Award projects have been funded by GW4 as part of the GW4 Building Communities Programme with topics including linguistics, heritage management, psychology, and politics. The ongoing funding scheme offers up to £5,000 to develop new or existing research and innovation collaborations across the GW4 institutions of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

The Climate Change – Leverhulme project aims to build a new community ‘CLIMA - Lev’ formed of scientists across GW4 and external partners. The community will support the development of a project entitled 'Biomimetic Immunising System for the Preservation of Historic Masonry Structures (BMPS)', which was recently awarded by the Leverhulme Trust, and proposes new repair technologies for historical masonry structures. "The awarded funds have played a pivotal role in building a strong and closely-knit intradisciplinary community.” the community’s PI, Cristina De Nardi said. “It provided us with the opportunity to come together, discuss our research background and openly share ideas for collaborative future projects. This initial collaboration has proven to be highly effective, as we now regularly meet and, as a result, a couple of pilot projects have been launched, and we are excited to collect preliminary results in the near future.” The formation of CLIMA - Lev opens doors to attractive funding opportunities, aiming for grants, studentships, collaborations, and publications. With a strong research foundation, CLIMA - Lev aims to develop innovative solutions for historic masonry preservation and contribute to cultural heritage resilience.

LanGW4, established in 2014, aims to promote collaboration with teaching and research projects in language teaching innovation across GW4 institutions. The funding will support efforts to address challenges in language education, such as declining language study and the impact of post-Brexit policies. The team is organising a free conference to foster vital cross-language collaborations amongst GW4 language practitioners. It also provides an opportunity to share best practice and generate wider networks. The funding will also enhance their website to enable the community to reach greater numbers of teaching communities and professionals. Community PI, Marie Gastinel-Jones explained: “The improved functionality will allow greater collaboration and links to our Youtube channel with recent presentations and projects. The conference on 29th June also includes activities to create synergies for cross-collaboration research and scholarship projects across all four GW4 institutions. This is vital work in the Post-Brexit era where language study and recruitment are threatened nationally at a substantial economic cost for the country.”

The community, ‘Psychology and allied disciplines’ aim to address the impact of the COVID pandemic on academic collaboration by raising awareness, fostering new regional links, and inviting collaboration beyond existing partnerships. The GW4 funding allowed the community to host an event for over 100 research psychologists and postgraduate students, on Wednesday 13th June, from across the GW4 institutions to facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing, funding ideas, and networking opportunities. Prof. Christopher Jarrold, the community’s PI commented: “The day was a great success, and in addition to identifying a number of ways of developing new collaborations, colleagues very much valued the opportunity to meet new people in person and to hear about each others’ research.”

The Past, Present and Future of History and Politics in Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland network (PPF NI/ROI) is a new community which intends to use the funding to produce collaborative research articles showcasing expertise in Irish/Northern Irish contemporary history and politics. By enhancing public engagement, increasing media opportunities and training future leaders, the network aims to address key themes in contemporary Northern Irish/Irish history and politics. “The GW4 award has enabled colleagues and myself to start planning a website, public talks with politicians across our institutions, podcasts, a website and research sharing seminars.” said community PI, Dr Thomas Leahy. “With expertise in this area of research in the GW4, it is fantastic that we are finally able to collaborate together for research, PhD supervision, media and other activities.”

The final community 'Architectures of Alterity: Body, Media, Space' aim to establish an interdisciplinary research network and toolshed for studying the architectures of alterity. They will organise a research symposium to exchange critical knowledge on “othering” devices and create an online repository for disseminating research, including academic papers, design outputs, and symposium recordings. The community’s PI Dr Dimitra Ntzani, said “The community was recently established to share and expand knowledge on architectures of alterity - architectures that defy social and cultural orders, and support more diverse and inclusive forms of dwelling. The awards allow the community to call for new members, early career or senior academics that study alterity as a spatial practice, an urban tactic, an iconography, or a state of fluidity.”

In support of GW4’s goal to foster world-class research and innovation communities, the GW4 Building Communities Programme offers Development Awards to support existing communities sustain their momentum and allow for the development of new communities. Development Awards operate on a rolling basis with no closing date, allowing communities to apply throughout the year for support.

Find out more about the GW4 Development Awards and Generator Fund.

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter