GW4 invests in collaborative research to tackle global challenges

June 30, 2020

GW4’s new pump-priming Generator Award brings GW4’s investment in collaborative research communities to over £2.9m; with projects exploring a range of societal, industrial, and global challenges, from maternity leave policy to climate change education.

The GW4 Alliance is delighted to announce over £100,000 in funding for eight research communities tackling some of society’s biggest questions and global challenges. The research groups are all collaborative communities, formed of academics from across the GW4 institutions of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter – four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK.

These latest awards bring GW4’s investment in collaborative research communities to over £2.9m. Our existing research communities have generated over £41m in external research income, representing an impressive return on investment of over £14 for every £1 we invest.

These research communities are the first to receive funding from our new Generator Award Funding scheme, which replaces the previous Initiator and Accelerator Awards. It offers awards of up to £20K to support both existing communities planning to scale-up and achieve significant external funding, including those which have developed through GW4 programmes and initiatives, and new communities looking to establish their networks.

For example, the Moving Through Motherhood project builds on the existing GW4 multidisciplinary community initially formed by early career researchers selected for GW4 Crucible 2017, which had the theme ‘Healthy Living’. The Transdisciplinary Network for Climate Change Education is an entirely new GW4 community but harnesses the globally recognised climate expertise across GW4 and recognises the importance of collaboration across disciplines to tackle global challenges, such as the climate emergency. The GW4 Neurodevelopmental Neurodiversity Network is also a new community but intends to draw upon several world leading GW4 centres, including the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at Bristol and the Neurodevelopment Assessment Unit at Cardiff, to develop the world’s first network in this field.

GW4 Director, Dr Sarah Perkins, said: “It was fantastic to see so many high calibre applications bringing together researchers at different career stages across the four GW4 Institutions, demonstrating our region’s potential for delivering world-leading research at scale.

“Collaborative world class research is at the heart of GW4. Our existing research communities have influenced national policy, developed world-class facilities, and provided the foundations for major research programmes. I look forward to working with these newly funded communities and celebrating their own successes and outcomes in the future.”

The successful Generator Award research communities are:

  • Moving Through Motherhood (PI: Dr Richard Pulsford, University of Exeter)
  • Maternity leave in the UK – a gender gap closing policy? (PI: Dr Joanna Clifton-Sprigg, University of Bath)
  • Transdisciplinary Network for Climate Change Education (PI: Professor Paul Howard-Jones, University of Bristol)
  • SPIN: Secrecy, Power, and Ignorance research Network (PI: Dr Elspeth Van Veeren, University of Bristol)
  • GWPore: Porous materials for energy, healthcare and the environment (PI: Dr. Asel Sartbaeva, University of Bath)
  • Plasticity and Robustness: cellular understanding of plant growth and defence (PI: Dr Veronica Grieneisen, Cardiff University)
  • GW4 Neurodevelopmental Neurodiversity Network (PI: Dr Punit Shah, University of Bath)
  • GW4 Rhetoric in Society (PI: Dr Paul Earlie, University of Bristol)

The projects are expected to take place over 7 months and will be kick started with an online launch event, before their official start date of 1st August. The event will provide an opportunity to introduce the GW4 team and showcase the wide range of resources and information available including communications support and funding advice.

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic and mindful of our climate footprint, GW4 is trailblazing the way in online delivery. Each project will deliver their content online including virtual workshops and networking events. We will provide support and training in delivering online content where necessary.

GW4’s research communities have a global reach and encompass a variety of research areas and disciplines, from advanced engineering to mapping EU politics, delivering outputs not possible as a single institution. Our communities have also developed partnerships with over 200 external partners including the Met Office, Rolls Royce, NHS, and the BBC. For more information take a look at our research community case studies.