GW4’s return on research investment reaches new high

September 21, 2020

To date the GW4 Alliance has invested over £2.9m in 93 collaborative research communities, which have generated over £46m in research income. This means that for every £1 GW4 spends on collaborative research communities, GW4 captures over £15 in external research awards.

GW4’s return on investment in collaborative research communities is at its highest level since the GW4 Alliance was formally launched in 2014. 

GW4 is proud to support collaborative and interdisciplinary research communities across the Alliance of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities.

In a recent review of our Building Communities programme, we have found that, to date, our investment of £2.9m in 93 research communities has generated £46m in research income. This means that for every £1 GW4 spends on collaborative research communities, we capture an impressive £15 in external research awards. Plus, that figure is growing as communities develop and create more opportunities for further joint funding bids and new partnerships.

This announcement builds on the recent launch of our new Generator Award research communities. GW4 provided funding for eight new research communities exploring a range of societal, industrial, and global challenges – from maternity leave policy to climate change education.

Our research communities have a global reach and encompass a variety of research areas and disciplines, from advanced engineering to mapping EU politics. They are able to harness expertise and resources from across the alliance to deliver outputs not possible as a single institution. Many of these communities have also contributed to knowledge transfer (with over 70 academic papers in progress or published) and real-world impact in terms of addressing policy, economic, societal, health and environment challenges.

GW4 Director, Dr Sarah Perkins, said: “It is fantastic to see our research communities thrive, securing external research grants and delivering real-world impact. We believe that this type of research – collaborative, scaled-up, interdisciplinary – demonstrates beyond doubt that collaboration is at the heart of research discovery and impact, and can help address society’s biggest questions and global challenges.

“Our existing research communities have influenced national policy, developed world-class facilities, and provided the foundations for major research programmes. I look forward to seeing our most recently funded research communities flourish and our existing communities build even further on their success.”

The collective impact of GW4 has developed flagship communities of research excellence such as the GW4 Water Security Alliance – one of the largest water research consortia in the world. GW4 Isambard, the world’s first Arm-based supercomputer to go into production use, developed from a GW4 research community. The project was initially awarded £3m by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in 2016. Due to the success of Isambard, GW4 and our partners secured a further £4.1m from EPSRC in February 2020 to create Isambard 2, the largest Arm-based supercomputer in Europe.

Our communities have developed partnerships with over 200 external partners including the Met Office, Rolls Royce, Airbus, NHS, and the BBC. Researchers involved in GW4 collaborative communities have also benefitted from professional development opportunities, demonstrating how this investment also nurtures new research talent across our four universities.