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New round of GW4 Development Awards continue to fuel innovation and collaboration

New round of GW4 Development Awards continue to fuel innovation and collaboration

The GW4 Alliance has funded five new, collaborative Development Award projects, as part of the GW4 Building Communities Programme, with topics including Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (mKTPs), climate and environmental justice, anthropology, researcher wellbeing and human tissue research.

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.

The Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships across GW4 community aims to enhance the awareness and interest in Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (mKTPs) across academics in GW4 universities. “An mKTP is a dynamic partnership between a business and a team of academic experts,” the community’s Principal Investigator (PI), Dr Bach Nguyen, explained. “The focus of mKTPs is specifically on increasing effectiveness and improving results through better management practices. This Development Award supported our community to organise a one-day workshop for GW4 academics which facilitated interest and collaboration opportunities among parties in mKTP projects.” Attendees at the community’s workshop included external partners, such as regional mKTP advisors, local businesses and business representation groups. In promoting collaboration opportunities across GW4 universities, and within the local business community, the project facilitated impactful research with connections into the real business world and highlighted opportunities for funding.

Building on a previous Generator Funded community, the Climate Justice Education Research Network (CJERN) community’s project seeks to bring together current research in climate and environmental justice with work in environmental education across the GW4 institutions. The team will use the Development Award to hold a series of three workshops, with a focus on bid development, bringing together academics across these key areas to share a diversity of approaches and expertise. The community will work with a Research Assistant (RA), Loz Hennessy, to plan, facilitate and report on the workshops; Loz will also complete a literature review of current research at the intersection of environmental education and education for justice which will feed into the scoping report and support the grant writing process.  PI, Dr Tracy Helliwell, elaborates, “Environmental education research is often framed as a purely scientific issue, which does not consider the unequal societal impacts of the climate and ecological emergencies. Hence, this project aims to develop new justice-focused educational responses.” The community are hoping to generate multiple smaller bids, or larger collaborative bids, as a result of the workshops.

Launched in 2023, the South West Anthropology Network (SWAN) was created to address the challenge of disparate anthropologists. It currently has 31 members from the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Plymouth and Reading, and provides a space for researchers to share resources and ideas; generate peer support and feedback; and create opportunities for networking. The Network plan to use the Development Award to hold a practical writing retreat for network members in 2024. The retreat will include blocks of writing time and peer feedback sessions and a collective briefing on progress and next steps. The Network’s PI, Dr Susannah Crockford, said, “Through this Development Award, we hope to create an online presence for the Network, and will hold interactive seminars over the next year, which will support growth and interactions; raise the profile of SWAN nationally; significantly advance our status in the field; and further build our capacity for networking, collaborations and industry partnerships.”

GW4 Researcher Wellbeing Evidence and Learning Lab (GW4 R WELL) aims to build a network of academic and professional service staff across GW4, to share multi-disciplinary experience, knowledge, research, policy and good practice on researcher distress/ (secondary) trauma and well-being. The project’s PI, Dr Tina Skinner, explains, “While trauma can result from an employee being a victim-survivor of a specific event, secondary trauma can occur when witnessing, seeing the aftermath of, and/or being told about such an event. The issue of trauma and secondary trauma in researchers undertaking potentially distressing research is only just starting to be acknowledged. GW4 R WELL has the long-term aim of improving the wellbeing of researchers undertaking research which puts them at risk of distress/(secondary) trauma.”

GW4 R WELL will use the Development Award funding to establish a core group of academics/professional services staff across GW4 to collaborate on future work on supporting wellbeing in researchers studying distressing topics. A sandpit has already brought this group together to share knowledge and understanding of researcher distress across different disciplines and research contexts, allowing the network to understand current support structures in place across GW4, and identify opportunities for building on relevant research and generating new collaborations. These discussions and shared knowledge will strengthen GW4 research culture and improve the research environment, as well as strengthening the capacity of researchers to submit an external funding bid.

The GW4 Human Tissue Community’s project will establish a Human Tissue Authority (HTA) Research Licence Community across GW4 institutions. The project’s PI, Dr Jacqueline Whatmore, explains, “The Universities of Exeter, Bristol and Cardiff all hold at least one Human Tissue Authority Research Licence. Licenses are overseen by Designated Individuals (DIs) with support from Person(s) Designated (PD), these individuals have specific legal responsibilities to ensure that activities undertaken under the licence are compliant with the requirements of the Human Tissue Act.” This community aims to establish a network of DIs and PD from the three institutions, to facilitate knowledge sharing, the exchange of best practice and cross institutional support and professional development. They will use the award for network meetings and cross institutional visits, whilst also helping to promote the different human tissue collections held across GW4 in detailed leaflets, thereby encouraging collaborations between the institutions that use these valuable resources.


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). This year’s call is now open for researchers across all disciplines across the GW4 Alliance, with a deadline for applications of 5th February 2024.
  • 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.


Find out more about the GW4 Development Awards and Generator Fund.

Further Reading

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter