The GW4 Building Communities Programme aims to build research and innovation communities of scale and capability that will deliver 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 Funding scheme which awards GW4 communities up to £20K for 6 month projects (launched in 2020). This replaced the Initiator (up to £20K for 5 months) and Accelerator (up to £75K for 8 months) funding schemes, which ran from 2014 – 2019.
  • 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.

More details of both schemes, and how to apply, can be found below.

Building Communities Funding supports both the creation of new GW4 communities and the development of the strongest ideas emerging from our existing communities, and is open to any academic area. To date, the GW4 Alliance has invested over £3.1M in 112 collaborative research communities, which have generated £62.8M in research income. This means that for every £1 GW4 spends on collaborative research communities, GW4 captures an impressive £20 in external research awards.

Research Integrity

The GW4 Alliance has adopted the Russell Group Research Integrity Statement of cooperation in cross-institutional research misconduct allegations, which aims to support the efforts of researcher communities to foster research integrity (also known as good practice in research or the responsible conduct of research).

NOW CLOSED – Building communities generator FUND OPEN Call

The GW4 Generator Fund is an open research call offering up to £20K to support collaborative research and innovation communities across the four GW4 universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. Now in its fourth year, this initiative supports both the creation of new GW4 communities and the development of the strongest ideas emerging from our existing communities.

Applications across all areas of research and innovation are invited. Applications from Early Career Research (ECR) communities are particularly welcome and supported. Generator funding can be used as a stand-alone award or, in conjunction with other sources of funding. Communities are encouraged to use the scheme as a step towards applying for external funding.

This call runs annually and has now closed. For more information and to be alerted when the call opens again, please contact the GW4 Building Communities Manager by emailing

building communities development awards call

These small awards (<£5K) will support the development and progression of collaborations by funding a single activity or resource. The aim is that communities will use the small awards as a step towards applying for external funding. Applications can come from new or existing GW4 communities.

The awards can be used for a variety of purposes, such as enhancing collaborative relationships (academic, industry or other stakeholders), seminars, community workshops, or public engagement activities. Projects which include external partners are encouraged, although not required. There is no closing date for applications, with awards set to be made throughout the year.

Read the GW4 Building Communities Development Award Guidance here, and apply via this form

Explore our communities

Explore our research communities by award type or activity group. (All communities are also listed below in order of award date with newest first).

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Fund: Accelerator

Fund: Generator

Fund: Initiator

GW4 Neurodevelopmental Neurodiversity Network

Generator Fund

Awarded: July 2020

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Punit Shah (PI), Esther Walton
University of Bristol: Christopher Jarrold
Cardiff University: Lucy Livingston
University of Exeter: Ginny Russell

Project overview

We are an interdisciplinary group – of university academics (e.g., geneticists, psychologists), neurodivergent people, and third sector organisations – working together towards a step-change in understanding and improving the lives of neurodivergent people and those with neurodevelopmental conditions. 

GW4 Rhetoric in Society


Awarded: July 2020

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Sophia Hatzisavvidou
University of Bristol: Paul Earlie (PI)
Cardiff University: Elisabeth (Lisa) El Refaie
University of Exeter: Helena Taylor and Michelle Bolduc

Project overview

A new research community bringing together scholars from a range of disciplines with a shared interest in rhetorical language in all its forms.

GWPore: Porous materials for energy, healthcare and the environment


Awarded: July 2020

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Asel Sartbaeva (PI)
University of Bristol: Sebastian Rochat
Cardiff University: Timothy Easun
University of Exeter: Yongde Xia

Project overview

We aim to create a network of researchers, GWPore, interested in all aspects of porous materials, across all four GW4 universities. This network will facilitate collaborations, applications for funding, mentoring for ECRs, networking, and equipment sharing between groups.

Maternity leave in the UK – a gender gap closing policy?


Awarded: July 2020

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Joanna Clifton-Sprigg (PI), Eleonora Fichera
University of Bristol: Susan Harkness
Cardiff University: Ezgi Kaya
University of Exeter: Michelle Ryan

Project overview

We will bring together academics from across disciplines and institutions to debate issues surrounding maternity leave provision in the UK and its effect on gender pay gap, and to establish an ambitious, policy-relevant research agenda.


Moving Through Motherhood


Awarded: July 2020

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Dr Peter Rouse
University of Bristol: Dr Charlie Foster
Cardiff University: Dr Kelly Morgann
University of Exeter: Dr Richard Pulsford (PI), Dr Victoria Salmon, Dr Lauren Rogers, Dr Emma Cockroft

Project overview

The GW4 Moving Through Motherhood Community comprises researchers from different disciplines with a shared interest in supporting physical activity during pregnancy by establishing a regional multidiscipline and multisector network to steer research and resource development.

Plasticity and Robustness: cellular understanding of plant growth and defence

generator award

Awarded: July 2020

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Kit Yates
University of Bristol: Alan Champneys
Cardiff University: Veronica Grieneisen (PI)
University of Exeter: Mike Deeks

Project overview

This project will link the major developmental alterations caused by plant pathogens to the fundamental changes in cellular polarity that underpin all these responses.

SPIN (Secrecy, Power, and Ignorance Research Network)

generator FUND

Awarded: July 2020

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Brett Edwards
University of Bristol:  Elspeth Van Veeren (PI)
Cardiff University: Claudia Hillebrand, Thomas Leahy
University of Exeter: Brian Rappert, Owen Thomas

Project overview

To promote new scholarship, dialogues, policy and improved governance by exploring and deepening understanding of the pervasiveness of secrecy and ignorance (the politics of knowledge (un)making) in contemporary social and political life. 



Project period: September 2019 – June 2019

GW4 community leads 
University of Bath: Andreas Kyprianou
University of Bristol:  Kate Robson Brown (PI)
Cardiff University: Paul Harper, Irena Spasic, Jonathan Gillard
University of Exeter: Richard Everson

Project overview 
This activity aimed to support the data science and AI collaborations in the GW4 region and extend the successful interactions with the Turing Institute.