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Fresh wave of GW4 Development Awards ignites innovation and collaboration

Fresh wave of GW4 Development Awards ignites innovation and collaboration

The GW4 Alliance has funded a further six new, collaborative Development Award projects, as part of the GW4 Building Communities Programme.

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. These awards aim to be flexible and agile, responding to the needs of GW4 academics and staff to fund creative and exciting projects.

GW4 Alliance Director, Dr Joanna Jenkinson said: “GW4 are delighted to have funded such a variety of exciting projects within this flexible scheme. We are looking forward to supporting these communities as they progress their collaboration, and would love to talk to others interested in developing their ideas.” 


The latest projects funded are:

Isoform-level psychiatric genomics

Principal Investigator (PI), Nicholas Clifton

The underlying biology responsible for schizophrenia, autism, and related disorders receives substantial contribution from heritable genetic mutations. Understanding the specific effects of these mutations across tissues and developmental stages is key to designing new medications. Across GW4 there is strong expertise in psychiatric genomics and the use of novel long-read sequencing methods. This award will fund a workshop in Spring 2024 to bring this expertise together in order to improve the understanding of the effects of causal genetic variants which will lead to a greater understanding of disease mechanisms critical for informing drug development.


Diversity and Human Capital Workshop: Wellbeing

Co-PIs, Javier Garcia-Brazales and Laura Munoz-Blanco

Despite improvements in the average wellbeing levels, the most vulnerable are being continuously left behind in many domains both in the developed and developing world. The community will organise a workshop in June 2024, which will illuminate some of our society’s most fundamental questions, for instance: (1) what are the determinants of mental and physical health?; (2) how can investments in education and children’s development affect their well-being?; (3) what are the impacts of gendered and intimate partner violence on wellbeing within families?, and (4) what are the labour market disparities that affect the most vulnerable populations, including economically disadvantaged groups, ethnic and religious minorities, etc.? The community has partnered with UK-based Economics of Diversity, Gender and Equality (EDGE) network: this June workshop will double as the EDGE Annual Workshop for 2024.


Fintech Research Network

PI, Jin Zheng

The project aims to identify opportunities through the integration of advanced technology in finance, exploring the potential benefits and possibilities that arise from incorporating cutting-edge technologies in the finance area. By bringing together experts from diverse disciplines and external partners, the community aim to identify and bridge the gap between various areas of expertise, fostering collaboration and innovative solutions within the intersection of finance and technology. The community will organise two workshops (April and May 2024) across the GW4 institutions which will facilitate collaborations in fintech research, with a specific emphasis on creating opportunities for potential cooperation and joint grant proposals for researchers from different backgrounds.


South West and Wales Africa Research Network (SWWARN)

PI, Stacey Hynd

SWWARN will provide a much-needed collaborative and cross-institutional research community for Africanist researchers across the South-West and Wales. SWWARN will work across all four GW4 institutions, and with other South-West and Wales HEIs, to promote regional collaboration and sharing of knowledge and best practice to enhance research on Africa, boost co-operation with African institutions, and promote the recruitment and development of African postgraduates and researchers. There is an annual programme of activities planned, including research seminars, networking meetings and PGR studentship recruitment events. The Development Award will fund a one-day research symposium for the network, designed to foster the inter-personal connections central to successful collaboration and for supporting PGR/ECR development. Funding will also be used to develop a SWWARN website and mailing list to build connections, visibility and sustainability for the network.


GW4 Cytometry Networking Group

PI, Raif Yuecel

Cytometry, crucial for the quantitative analysis of single cells and cellular functions, is pivotal in advancing scientific discovery. The GW4 Cytometry Networking Group’s goal is to promote cooperative research, expertise exchange, and interdisciplinary approaches within the GW4 consortium. With the support of the Development Award, the inaugural GW4 Cytomics Symposium will explore current opportunities and challenges in cytometry, aiming to foster collaborations across academia and industry. This initiative is designed to elevate the GW4’s cytometry research and facilities on a global scale, while also nurturing industry-academic partnerships for future innovation.


South West England and De Cymru Human-Computer Interaction Community (SWEDC-HCI)

PI, Elaine Czech

Academics studying how humans interact with computers come from a diverse set of disciplines, including computer scientist, psychologists, social science, engineering and the arts. The SWEDC-HCI community will form a regional network to allow these academics and students to build connections and develop opportunities for exciting, cross-disciplinary funding applications. The community will use the Development Award to fund a flagship South West Pre-CHI event, bringing together academics and PGRs working in Human-Computer Interaction to share their latest research by practicing presenting accepted CHI papers, and to build their networks and knowledge exchange to generate new collaborative research ideas. This will be the first annual event for the community.


GW4 Building Communities

The GW4 Building Communities Programme aims to build research and innovation communities of scale and capability, delivering a step change in world-class research that could not be achieved by one of the institutions alone. The Programme has two funding schemes:

  • The annual Generator Fund which awards GW4 communities up to £20K for 6 month projects (launched in 2020).
  • The Development Awards which support new, and advance existing, collaborations across GW4 by funding single activities or resources with up to £5K. This is a rolling scheme, with no closing date.
University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter