GW4 launches new pump-priming research communities

February 14, 2019

These latest Building Community awards bring GW4’s investment in collaborative research communities to over £2.8m.

The GW4 Alliance is pleased to announce funding for 12 new collaborative research communities tackling a range of global and industrial challenges.

The successful communities include a research group which will explore the responses and preparations of our region’s businesses for Brexit and UK trade policy; and another which combines GW4’s interdisciplinary expertise to create the world’s first research network on suicide, homicide, and self-harm in parent carers.

Professor Kim Graham, Chair of GW4 Board and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Enterprise at Cardiff University said: “It was a privilege to read so many high calibre applications bringing together researchers across the four GW4 Institutions, demonstrating the potential for the region in delivering world-leading research at scale.

“I was also delighted to see a strong level of interest from our early career researchers, including a research community looking at physical activity during pregnancy and another aiming to improve classification and diagnosis of epilepsy. GW4 supports early career researchers in many ways, including via the Building Communities scheme and initiatives such as the GW4 Crucible.

“Collaborative world class research is at the heart of GW4 and I look forward to celebrating the successes and outputs of these 12 newly funded research communities, as well as the 77 already generated across the region.”

Managing collaborations in practice

The projects were kick started and shown “some love” at the launch event today, Thursday 14th February, at the Watershed in Bristol. This year’s event showcased the wide range of resources and information available from GW4 including communications support, funding advice and opportunities. Fellow award holder Professor Isabelle Durance, Director of the Water Research Institute at Cardiff University, shared her experiences of successfully creating and scaling from Building Communities funding to developing the GW4 Water Security Alliance, one of the largest collaborative water security research endeavours in Europe. The research communities also learnt several tools and techniques to help ensure a successful partnership.

Communities to tackle a range of critical issues

Nine of the twelve communities received GW4 Initiator funding, which offers awards aimed at emerging GW4 research networks, to establish themselves through collaborative activities such as sandpits and workshops.

The remaining three were awarded Accelerator funding, in order to scale up these existing communities to deliver a step change in world-class research and achieve large scale bids.

The full list of the latest successful GW4 communities is as follows:


  • Circular economy for affordable, low-carbon secondary raw materials (Dr Raffaele Vinai, Dr Matt Eames and Professor Peter Hopkinson, University of Exeter; Professor Steve Eichhorn, University of Bristol; Professor Pete Walker, Dr Bhavna Sharma and Dr Stephen Allen, University of Bath; Dr Eshrar Latif, Cardiff University)
  • Family component of school approaches to promoting mental health (Dr Jeremy Segrott, Cardiff University; Dr Judi Kidger, University of Bristol; Dr Janet Goodall, University of Bath; Professor Katrina Wyatt, University of Exeter)
  • GW4 NanoEvade: Smart design of nanoparticle-drugs to evade the immune response (Dr Charlie Jeynes, Dr David Richards, University of Exeter; Professor Karen Edler, University of Bath; Dr Ash Toye, University of Bristol; Dr Mark Young, Dr Riccardo Bonsignore and Dr Andreia De Almeida, Cardiff University)
  • South West regional centre for secrecy, security and society research (Dr Elspeth Van Veeren, University of Bristol; Professor Brian Rappert, University of Exeter; Dr Claudia Hillebrand, Cardiff University; Dr Brett Edwards, University of Bath)
  • Imaging Arthritis Consortium (Dr. Benjamin Sherlock and Professor Peter Winlove, University of Exeter; David Williams and Professor Cathy Holt, Cardiff University; Flossie Carpenter and Michael Whitehouse, University of Bristol; Dr Elise Pegg and Professor Richie Gill, University of Bath)
  • SHuSH! A research network on Suicide, Homicide, and Self-Harm in parent carers (Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer and Dr Astrid Janssens, University of Exeter; Dr Katie Maras and Professor Paul Stallard, University of Bath; Dr Thomas Slater, Cardiff University; Dr Becky Mars, Dr Lucy Biddle and Professor Paul Moran, University of Bristol)
  • Using realistic review methodology to investigate digital health interventions for managing long-term conditions (Dr Judith Carrier, Dr Roser Beneito-Montagut, Dr Emma Lane and Dr Valerie Sparkes, Cardiff University; Dr Matthew Jones and Dr Charlotte Dack, University of Bath; Dr Sabrina Grant, University of Bristol)
  • Stratify and Treat – a new horizon for type 1 diabetes after 100 years (Dr Sarah Richardson, Professor Noel Morgan, Dr Richard Oram, Dr Angus Jones, Professor Andrew Hattersley, Dr Bev Shields and Dr Tim McDonald, University of Exeter; Dr Danijela Tatovic, Professor Colin Dayan and Professor Susan Wong, Cardiff University; Dr Kathleen Gillespie, Alistair Williams and Dr Anna Long, University of Bristol)
  • Moving Through Motherhood (Dr Richard Pulsford, University of Exeter; Dr Charlie Foster, University of Bristol; Dr Peter Rouse, University of Bath; Dr Lucie Warren, Cardiff University; Dr Victoria Salmon and Dr Lauren Rodgers, University of Exeter)


  • Recurrence analysis for the characterisation and classification of epileptic patients (Dr Naoki Masuda, University of Bristol; Dr Lorenzo Livi, University of Exeter; Dr Jiaxiang Zhang, Cardiff University and Dr Tiago de Paula Peixoto, University of Bath)
  • Building a clinical academic training community across South West England and South Wales (Professor John Iredale, University of Bristol; Professor Jeremy Tavare, University of Bristol; Professor Tamsin Ford, University of Exeter; Professor Paul Morgan, Cardiff University)
  • Wales and South West responses and preparations for Brexit and UK trade policy (Dr Maria Garcia, University of Bath; Dr Clair Gammage, University of Bristol; Prof Jo Hunt, Cardiff University; Professor David Thackeray, University of Exeter)

Building on success

Over the past five years GW4’s research communities have encompassed a variety of research areas and disciplines. These communities have stimulated partnerships with over 200 external partners, such as the Met Office, Rolls Royce, NHS, Natural History Museum, Veolia and the BBC. Take a look at our research community case studies.

These distinctive GW4 communities, delivering outputs and outcomes not possible as a single institution, have influenced national policy, developed world-class facilities, and provided the foundations for major research programmes tackling global challenges.

The research groups are collaborative communities across the four GW4 universities, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter; which are four of the most research-intensive and innovative in the UK.