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X-disciplinary Challenges from Industry for Technical Expert Development (X-CITED)

The X-disciplinary Challenges from Industry for Technical Expert Development (X-CITED) programme will develop the abilities of Research Technical Professionals (RTPs) and support them to build the skills to work with industrial partners to address real-world challenges and opportunities.

GW4 (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities) secured £1.97 million funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to address the challenges faced by RTPs.

Led by Dr Anneke Lubben, Director of Research Infrastructure and Facilities at the University of Bath, the X-CITED programme will establish a multifaceted model to create and enhance an RTP pipeline, which goes beyond a simple training and development programme, and ensures that experienced RTPs realise their full potential for broader societal benefit through their engagement with industry and the next generation of RTPs.

Delivered over three years, the X-CITED programme will become a regional demonstrator for new approaches to professional skills development for the sector. The scheme will focus on several core activities, including harnessing talent from across the GW4 universities to create peer networks and Communities of Practice, building a rich research ecosystem and generating a regional knowledge exchange based around key technology specialisms. The programme will also build a mechanism for industrial partners to work with RTPs and progress industry challenges through a series of discussion forums and Industry Challenge Projects, bridging the gap between academia and industry, and delivering real-world impact.

X-CITED will establish a Talent Bank of trainee RTPs, training them in a range of techniques, maximising their engagement in collaborative projects with industry partners, and fostering more diverse pathways into technical careers. The Talent Bank approach will also support existing RTPs to release time for their own professional development, bolstering the resilience and sustainability of university research facilities.

Research Technical Professionals play a critical role in helping to drive forward GW4’s research and innovation programmes. GW4 has around 1300 technical staff across our four institutions, often acting as the linchpin in any University department, operating and maintaining facilities and providing valuable expertise and intellectual input to enable high quality teaching and research.

The X-CITED programme is being delivered as part of GW4WARD, an initiative designed to drive forward the professional development of technical staff across GW4. The programme is closely aligned to the GW4 universities’ pledge to the Technician Commitment, which aims to support all Research Technical Professionals across GW4 to gain recognition, visibility, and career development opportunities, and responds to many of the recommendations in the TALENT Commission Report.

X-CITED will form part of a network of 11 Strategic Technical Platforms, funded by EPSRC and UKRI Digital Research Infrastructure (DRI) investment, as part of a £16 million initiative to support strategic investments for systematic support, training and development to promote, enable and empower the RTP community in UK universities.

All 11 projects will benefit from the EPSRC’s extensive experience in supporting research software engineers, data wrangling, facility managers, and equipment specialists, as well as community development.

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter