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GW4 Generator Communities showcase the power of collaboration and innovation

GW4 Generator Communities showcase the power of collaboration and innovation

The official launch of this year’s GW4 research and innovation communities was marked at the 2024 GW4 Generator Showcase and Launch Event on Wednesday 22nd May, at the Watershed in Bristol, which also showcased the collaborative efforts and achievements of previous communities.

The GW4 Building Communities Generator Award offers funding of up to £20k to enable both new and existing research groups to collaborate across GW4 (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities) along with external partners.

The seven newly-funded research communities join over 125 existing GW4-funded collaborative research communities, which have cumulatively generated over £87million in research income since their formation – resulting in GW4’s highest ever return on investment. Overall, for every £1 that the GW4 Alliance funds through these communities, £25 is then captured in new external research awards.

Each of the new communities delivered a short presentation introducing themselves and outlining their research community aims. This year, an array of collaborative communities emerged, spanning a variety of research areas from young people’s mental health to musculoskeletal wellbeing and injury, contemporary history and politics, and lithium-ion batteries. All new communities are made up of researchers from across the GW4 Alliance, underlining the strength and value of our collaborative approach to research and innovation.

Following the launch presentations, the spotlight shifted to Generator Fund success stories with communities, from the previous round of funding, sharing their accomplishments and insights gained throughout their journey.

Professor Phil Taylor, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise at University of Bristol, and GW4 Board Chair, chaired a panel discussion with Generator Principal Investigators (PIs) from the 2022 and 2023 cohorts who shared insights from their experiences of building a research community with Generator funding.

Professor Nick Gill, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Exeter and PI of the Forcibly Displaced Students in Higher Education community, said: “The GW4 Generator Funding has been fantastic, and we’ve felt encouraged, nurtured, and very supported. The funding has allowed us to develop wide networks, but we’ve also been able to build depth, and get to know each other really well, which will carry us forward into the next stages of our collaboration.”

The new communities also heard how the GW4 team can support them in their journey, outlining the resources and opportunities available, from communications support to public affairs, as well as research and development opportunities.

“Supporting sustainable, inclusive growth through collaboration lies at the heart of the GW4 Alliance.” GW4 Alliance Director, Dr Joanna Jenkinson MBE, explained: “The projects and communities emerging from the GW4 Generator Fund exemplify the spirit of collaboration that defines our Alliance. It was a privilege to attend the showcase to hear more about the remarkable achievements made by some of our previous research communities, and I am excited to witness the outcomes and projects that will be generated by our newly funded cohort.”

The 2024 GW4 Generator Showcase and Launch Event focused on promoting the power of collaboration, fostering innovation, and nurturing a community of change-makers. Through supporting researchers in their career development and research interests, GW4 reaffirms its commitment to fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and catalysing new research.

Our 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.
  • 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