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EPSRC Engineering Grand Challenge workshops – how to get involved

EPSRC logoRead on if you want to take advantage of a brilliant opportunity to network and horizon scan, ensuring you are aware of the funding opportunities coming up…

Following the successful 2013 Global Grand Challenges London Summit (see here for a great overview written by participants), organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering, EPSRC set out to identify Engineering Grand Challenges. In order to start this process, EPSRC organised a two-day retreat, bringing together 25 academic, industry and government experts in facilitated discussions. Prior to the event, EPSRC University and Business Strategic Partners were invited to provide suggestions for the Grand Challenges.

The outputs of the retreat are included in the report below. Seven areas have thus far been identified as potential Engineering Grand Challenges:

  • Risk and Resilience in a Connected World
  • Controlling Cell Behaviour
  • Engineering from Atoms to Applications
  • Bespoke Engineering
  • Big Data for Engineering Futures
  • Suprastructures – integrating resource infrastructures under constraint
  • Engineers at the Heart of Public Decision Making.

Following the retreat, EPSRC approached 23 experts from across the engineering disciplines to ask their views about the themes identified as well as input from the EPSRC Engineering Strategic Advisory Team; their comments are included in the report. As a first stage EPSRC will convene a small high-level group to reflect further on the outcomes of the retreat, where necessary refining the number of challenges and their content.

Following this and in order to build momentum around the Engineering Grand Challenges, EPSRC intend to run three workshops in the Autumn so as to:

  1. Engage the research and user community to identify clear targets or milestones for each of the selected Grand Challenges areas
  2. Start the process of building collaborations and/or consortia as appropriate and
  3. Build advocacy for the Engineering Grand Challenges, particularly as EPSRC, working with its partners in academia, industry and government, is looking to build the case for Engineering and Physical Sciences ahead of the next spending review.

If you wish to attend one of these workshops EPSRC ask you to complete the survey (at the bottom of this page: by 15 September 2014. If you have any queries please email

Activity Date
Expression of interest to attend 15 September 2014
Confirmation to attendees 02 October 2014
Birmingham workshop 14 November 2014
London workshop 19 November 2014
Edinburgh workshop 26 November 2014


Civic political engagement in the new digital era: Paris 24-7 June 2014

The grand international conferences attracting up to 1,000 academics are highly prestigious, however the opportunities to find academics in a field, talk in-depth about approaches, concepts, methodologies, data and future ideas is constrained by the size and scale. Hence BU collaborated with Science-Po (Paris) and Sciencecomm (Audencia Nantes) to bring together scholars whose work has a specific focus on online political engagement in order to explore current thinking and investigate avenues for collaboration. The event #CPE2014 ( attracted 34 participants; some very established some just starting out in a research career, some invited some who submitted abstracts speculatively following the call. What connected the works was the objective of conceptually and empirically determining what engagement and participation means in the age of ubiquitous digital media.

The keynotes from Rachel Gibson (Manchester, UK) and Bruce Bimber (University of California, US) set the scene conceptually asking what is really new in the digital age, and arguing technology is a context for communication and for action as opposed to a cause. Many papers thus explored to what extent we can argue something new has emerged, what might that be and what in terms of political engagement and participation does digital technology facilitate.

What did we learn from this? It is no real surprise to hear of the breadth and depth of the forms and types of activities that online spaces provide. We know vast numbers of organisations, corporate, political and third sector, who populate the world wide web. We also know most of these have gravitated towards social media, having a Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter feed seem de rigeur at the very least. And we find many affordances for Interaction (Giraldo-Luque & Duran-Becerra) as well as learning and engaging (Schneidemesser; Vasilopoulos; de Blasio & Santaniello). The biggest questions revolve around impact, are there new forms of communication, of engagement, of participation, of influence that are a by-product (wanted or unwanted) with the colonisation of the social web?

As would be expected the answers to these questions offer mixed results, and any conclusions are tentative at best. One key theme is the notion of expressive participation, ‘having a say’ whether it be commenting or talking online (Kountouri or Bouillianne for example), acting as an online vigilante (Loveluck) or as a news gatherer (Wimmer & Schultz). The data from studies by Rachel Gibson and colleagues, Christian Vaccari and Homero Gil de Zuniga certainly provide compelling evidence to suggest expression as a pathway to deeper forms of participation. We also gain a sense of how influence can be exacted (Mossberger & Kao; Bang), though also that perhaps the social web can also be a distraction leading users away from the civic rather than more positive perspectives (Bojic). The visualization of forms of expression (Koc-Michalska, Lilleker & Wells; Vergeer, Boynton & Richardson) go some way to understanding some aspects of the nature of these expressions, though they raise issues regarding how to make sense of the big data which can be gathered from the Internet; discussions around this and the tools available was one key outcome of the workshop.

The workshop also showed the importance of mixed methods. We talked of understanding the lifeworld (Lilleker), how politics links with or is seen as separate from the everyday, and whether civic, social, political are the same or each have clear boundaries both conceptually and practically (Bang). But this raised the importance of mixed methods. Vergeer took us beyond the quantitative, sociological meat grinder of the survey which boils down human factors to key indicators, yet this exposes the contradiction when in exploring big data we have to mince and mash rich text resulting from complex behavior to get to the structure (the DNA) rather than the nuances of each individual contribution. Hence the interview (Bouillianne, Neys), ethnographic work (Ozkula) and text and diary entries (Cantioch) offers fascinating insights that can build understanding on top of the numbers (Vozab; Klinger: Hooghe for example).

The workshop therefore is part of a development in the understanding and a revisionist movement around the notions of engagement and participation and the theoretical positions which have to date been used to understand human civic and political behavior. The value of the meeting of these scholars was to identify the different strands of research, the expertise in the field, the current indications from data, the methodologies and where the research should go next. For us some will be exploring collaboration around a Horizon 2020 bid on youth as a driver of social change (YOUNGa-2014a), some further will be meeting again at the ECPR Joint workshops in Warsaw 2015 in a workshop again organized by Koc-Michalska and Lilleker, some will also likely find opportunities to share data and develop publications. A proposal for a special collection is in the pipeline gathering together the more empirically driven works. Hence this now tight-knit group may well remain close and develop as a collaborative network long into the future.

NERC – Academic Workshops in Oil and Gas..

NERC, in collaboration with the Knowledge Transfer Network, are going to be hosting a series of events during 2014 which will investigate solutions to the top challenges facing the sector in the UK.

As the UK pursues a long-term strategy to decarbonise our society, there will be a continuing need for hydrocarbon exploration to bridge the gap to low emission power generation in future. Britain’s energy security and long-term economic performance will benefit hugely from maintaining the health of this key industrial sector. With this in mind, NERC is keen to establish where research activities might support the sector.

Please find details of the upcoming events below:

Unconventional hydrocarbons. Unconventional oil and gas (e.g. shale oil and gas resources) are playing an increasingly important part of the energy mix. Producing these resources effectively and with minimal environmental impact requires innovative science and technology.

Date: 24/09/2014
Time: 09:00 – 16:30

Exploitation in challenging environments. The petroleum industry has successfully extracted a large proportion of the ‘easy to get’ oil and gas. Large resources are still present in environments in which exploration, appraisal and production are difficult and where conventional technologies are inadequate (eg ultra high temperature-high pressure reservoirs, deep-water environments, subsalt, sub-basalt, Arctic). This theme also includes the identification and assessment of risks from environmental hazards to offshore infrastructure.

Date: 17/10/2014
Time: 09:00 – 16:30

Extending the life of mature basins. Mature basins such as the UK’s North Sea contain very significant amounts of unrecovered hydrocarbons. Identifying new resources, and producing this resource in a cost-effective and environmentally sensitive way is technically challenging but will extend field life and help reduce UK reliance on imported energy in the medium term. This theme could include novel approaches to data analysis and interpretation as well as areas such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

Date: 26/11/2014
Time: 09:00 – 16:30

Environmental impact and management. Reducing the environmental impact of oil and gas extraction is a key priority for the sector. Improvements in the scientific understanding and technology used during hydrocarbon resource extraction will result in lower levels of environmental impact and will directly influence UK oil and gas industry regulations. Another key challenge for the sector is the environmental impacts of offshore infrastructure, including the assessment of decommissioning options. Note this is a cross-cutting theme which could be included in any of the above themes.

Date: 03/12/2014
Time: 09:00 – 16:30

To find out more information about the events, please visit the connect website.

2014-15 Round of the British Academy’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme – Now Open!

The British Academy is now inviting applications to their Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme. The aim of the awards is to offer opportunities for outstanding early career researchers to strengthen their experience of research and teaching in a university environment which will develop their curriculum vitae and improve their prospects of obtaining permanent lecturing posts by the end of the Fellowship. The primary emphasis is on completion of a significant piece of publishable research, which will be assisted by full membership of an academic community of established scholars working in similar fields. A number of 45 awards are expected to be offered. 
This is an e-submission. The deadline for applicants to this scheme is 5pm, 08/10/2014, with the approver deadline at 5pm, 09/10/2014. However, please note that RKEO’s internal deadline will be 02/10/2014.
Please see the competition timetable for 2014-15 below:
  • Application forms, Outline Stage: available from  27 August 2014
  • Applicant deadline, Outline Stage: 8 October 2014
  • Result of Outline Stage announced: 21 January 2015
  • Application deadline, Second Stage: 25 February 2015
  • Final results confirmed: May 2015
  • Awards available for starting date: Not earlier than 1 September 2015 and not later than 1 January 2016

If you need any guidance or support please contact your RKE Support Officer.


BSA Ageing, Body and Society Study Group 6th Annual Conference: Researching Bodies – Call for Abstracts!

On Friday 28 November 2014, the BSA Ageing, Body and Society Study Group 6thAnnual Conference: Researching Bodies will take place at the British Library Conference Centre, London. The conference will include a keynote address by Prof Les Back (Goldsmiths University) who will speak on: Inscriptions of Love: the body as an impermanent canvas and a plenary panel on Researching Bodies.

Call for Abstracts:

The British Sociological Association are inviting submissions to the conference. They invite abstracts for poster and oral presentations that will be 15-20 minutes long. They are encouraging researchers to share their perspectives on ‘researching bodies’ and welcome abstracts on different theoretical and methodological approaches, emergent ideas, work in progress, practitioner perspectives, and emperical findings.

Abstracts of 250 words long should be submitted before midnight, 12/09/2014 online here. Those that submitted an abstract will be informed of the decision before 29/09/2014.

You can find further information about the call here.


BU helping to evolve security and privacy by design

On Monday, BU researchers co-organised a workshop on Evolving Security and Privacy Requirements Engineering (ESPRE) at the 22nd IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE 2014) in Karlskrona, Sweden.  The workshop brought together practitioners and researchers from around the world, who shared their thoughts about how security and privacy can be incorporated into the design of software as early as possible, without compromising productivity or sacrificing innovation.  The RE conference series is one of the premier conferences in software engineering, and the ESPRE workshop is the successor of several successful secure software engineering workshops.  Shamal Faily (SciTech) organised this workshop, together with colleagues from Germany (University of Duisberg-Essen), South Korea (Ajou University), and the USA (Carnegie Mellon University).

The workshop began with a keynote talk from Professor Angela Sasse (UCL), who described some recent research examining how companies build security into products they develop, and the need to change the discourse around usability and security.  Three technical paper sessions followed, before the workshop was concluded with an invited talk by Aljosa Pasic (Atos Research & Innovation) on some of the market trends and business challenges in security engineering.  Further information about the workshop itself can be found at .

We’re grateful to the Faculty of Science & Technology for co-sponsoring this workshop, and to all the workshop attendees for sharing their work.

What’s So Special about Teaching Media Management?

Posted in Uncategorized by John Oliver

BU academics  Dr Chris Chapleo and Ms Marketa Zezulkova, from the Advances in Media Management research cluster,  talk about the importance of teaching media management education along with leading media management educators and researchers from across Europe.

Cut and paste this link into your browser to find out more.

Cancer Research UK – New Calls Announced!

Cancer Research UK has announced two new funding schemes. These awards have been developed to bring together experts from previously untapped research fields to bring a fresh approach to what they do, and help them accelerate progress.

The new Multidisciplinary Project Award will support collaborations between cancer researchers and scientists from engineering and physical science disciplines, to provide new insight and develop creative technologies and methodologies to better understand, detect, diagnose and treat cancer. Cancer Research UK are offering up to £500,000 to cover costs of equipment, salaries for PDRA’s, PhD’s, technical staff and associated running expenses and the funding period is for up to 4 years. The first deadline for applications is 17/11/2014 and decisions will be made in April 2015.

The new Cancer Immunology Project Award supports immunologists in non-cancer fields to bring their expertise and insight to cancer research, to deepen their understanding of the role of the immune system and its interaction with tumours. Cancer Research UK are offering up to £300,000 to fund salaries for researchers and technical staff, running expenses, and equipment costs for a period of up to 36 months. The first deadline for applications is the 16/11/2014; decisions will be made in April 2015.

To find out more about these schemes, please do visit the Cancer Research UK blog.

Please note that some funders specify a time for submission as well as a date. Please confirm this with your RKE Support Officer.

You can set up your own personalised alerts on ResearchProfessional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s RKE Officer in RKE Operations or see the recent post on this topic, which includes forthcoming training dates up to November 2014.

If thinking of applying, why not add notification of your interest on ResearchProfessional’s record of the bid so that BU colleagues can see your intention to bid and contact you to collaborate.


Latest Major Funding Opportunities

The following funding opportunities have been announced. Please follow the links for more information:

The Academy of Medical Sciences is inviting applications to the Starter Grants for Clinical Lecturers scheme.  They are offering funding of up to £30,000 to cover the cost of research consumables. The grants allow research-active Clinical Lecturers to gather data to strengthen their bids for longer-term fellowships and funding. An application form can be downloaded. The deadline for applications is 5pm, 01/09/2014.

The BBSRC in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), announce a call to support fundamental bioscience that will address key gaps in the knowledge of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) biology. The total amount of funding available for the call is £6 million (BBSRC are contributing £5M, and Defra, £1 million). A letter of intent must be submitted before 4pm, 04/11/2014, and it is expected that the full application deadline will be at the end of February 2015.

The British Academy will soon be inviting applications to the BA Skills Acquisition Awards.  Quantitative Skills Acquisition Awards are available to support career development of early career scholars (within 10 years of the award of the doctorate) who are in established academic posts. These awards aim to develop and enhance their quantitative skills by providing an award to enable early career researchers to spend some time with a mentor at a specialist centre in the field.

The British Academy is inviting applications to the Elisabeth Barker Fund.  The Fund was established in memory of Elisabeth Barker (1910-1986), diplomatic correspondent and historian of modern Europe. It is intended to support studies in recent European history, particularly the history of Central and Eastern Europe. Grants may be made for individual, or collaborative projects and may support British scholars, or scholars from other European countries. The maximum award amount is £1,000 and the closing date for applications if 15/10/2014.

The British Academy is also inviting applications to their Elie Kedourie Memorial Fund. The fund, established by the family of Elie Kedourie, FBA, is to promote the study of Middle Eastern and Modern European History, and the History of Political Thought by recent postdoctoral scholars of any nationality. Awards are offered to support any aspect of research, including travel and publication. The maximum award amount is £1,000 and the closing date for applications is 15/10/2014.

The British Academy has announced that they will soon be accepting applications to the Stein-Arnold Exploration Fund. The Fund was established according to the terms of the Will of Sir Aurel Stein, FBA, to commemorate his friendship with Sir Thomas Arnold, FBA, for ‘the encouragement of research on the antiquities or historical geography or early history or arts of those parts of Asia which come within the sphere of the ancient civilisations of India, China, and Iran, including Central Asia. Research should be ‘so far as possible by means of exploratory work’, and applicants must be British or Hungarian subjects. Awards do not exceed £2,500. Application forms are being made available from 22/10/2014 and the deadline for applications is 03/12/2014.

The British Academy has also announced that they will soon be accepting applications to the Neil Ker Memorial Fund. The object of this fund is to promote the study of Western medieval manuscripts, in particular those of British interest. Applications are invited from scholars of any nationality, engaged on original research intended for publication. Applicants should be of postdoctoral status, or have comparable experience. Awards do not normally exceed £2,000. Application forms will be made available from 22/10/2014 and the deadline for applications is 03/12/2014.

The British Academy will soon make applications for the BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants scheme available. Grants are available to support primary research in the humanities and social sciences. The first recourse for funding should be to your own institution (where applicable). Applications will not be considered for less than £500. The maximum grant is £10,000 over two years. Applications for collaborative or individual projects are equally welcome under this scheme. Applications forms will be made available from 03/09/2014 and the closing date for applications is 15/10/2014.

Dstl and BAE Systems are seeking proposals for the Autonomous Systems Underpinning Research – ASUR 2014 programme. This competition is seeking research proposals in a set of specific areas relating to technologies that are potentially applicable to enhancing the development and operation of future autonomous systems that will enable the UK Armed Forces to successfully meet the operational challenges that they will encounter over the next decade and beyond. Up to £2.4 million of funding is available for this competition. The deadline for applications is 13/10/2014.

The ELRHA (enhancing learning & research for humanitarian assistance) have now launched their Ebola Health Research call. The aim of the call is both to produce robust research findings that could contribute to the effectiveness of the response to the current outbreak, and help to draw lessons for future outbreaks of Ebola and other communicable diseases. Funding is being made available through the existing £6.5 million R2HC programme. Given the urgency of this situation, qualified researchers are invited to submit a preliminary Expression of Interest application to ELRHA by 11am, 08/09/2014.

The ESRC have made a pre-call announcement for the Transformative Research call. The aim of this call is to provide a stimulus for genuinely transformative research ideas at the frontiers of the social sciences, enabling research which challenges current thinking to be supported and developed. Successful applicants will receive a grant of up to £250,000 (at 100 per cent full economic cost (fEC)). ESRC will meet 80 per cent of the full economic costs on proposals submitted. Only two applications can be accepted from each eligible Research Organisation. Proposals should be pre-selected by the Research Organisation and will need to be submitted to the ESRC at the beginning of January 2015. The full call specification will be released in September 2014.

The Medical Research Council has mentioned on their website that they will soon be taking applications for the Biomedical Informatics Fellowship. The fellowship supports outstanding post-doctoral researchers who are seeking to move into the application of mathematical, statistical and computational methods to biomedical and health research problems. Applications are being made available from 05/05/2015 and the deadline for applications will be 16/06/2015.

The Medical Research Council has announced that they will soon be inviting applications to the Career Development Award (CDA) in Biostatistics.  This CDA in Biostatistics encourages broad training programmes in biostatistics to support talented early-career researchers who have recently completed their PhDs and who are working in – or seeking to move into – statistically based, health-related research. The CDA provides full personal salary costs together with support for consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project. The opening date for applications is 17/03/2015 and the closing date is 28/04/2015.

The Medical Research Council has also announced that they will soon be inviting applications to their Early Career Fellowship in Economics of Health. The fellowship provides early-career support to help individuals begin to establish a research track record in the field and to undertake further training. The EoH provides full personal salary costs, together with support for consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project. The opening date for applications is 05/05/2015 and the deadline for applications is 16/06/2015.

The Medical Research Council has also announced details of the Methodology Research Fellowship.  The fellowship supports post-doctoral researchers with a grounding in health research, not necessarily in a methodological discipline, who will advance the development and application of innovative methodologies in the context of challenging biomedical and health research problems. It will provide a significant career development opportunity for these researchers to become independent researchers in their chosen fields. Full personal salary costs will be provided, with support for research staff, consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project. The opening date for applications is 05/05/2015 and the deadline is 16/06/2015.

The Medical Research Council has announced details of the Molecular Pathology Nodes scheme. MRC and EPSRC invite proposals to establish high-quality molecular pathology nodes. Each node will be a multidisciplinary centre of innovative molecular diagnostic test discovery and development bringing together the research base, pathology/genetic services and industry. The call will have four phases, 1) Call workshop, 2) Expression of interest, 3) Proposal, 4) Monitoring. A workshop will be hosted on 01/10/2014 in London – the workshop registration form needs to be completed by 15/09/2014. The deadline for expression of interest is 10/11/2014 and for the proposal is 10/02/2015.

The Medical Research Council will soon be inviting applications to their Population Health Scientist Fellowship.  The fellowship supports outstanding early-career researchers to conduct research and develop the skills required to underpin a career in the population health sciences. The award provides a competitive personal salary and a research training support grant of up to £20,000 per year. The opening date for applications is 05/05/2015 and the closing date for applications is 16/06/2015.

The Medical Research Council is now inviting applications to their Senior Clinical Fellowship. The purpose of the scheme is to support outstanding medically and other clinically qualified professionals in their development to become research leaders. The fellowship will provide full personal salary costs, together with support for research staff, consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project. The opening date for applications will be the 25/02/2015 and the closing date for applications is the 08/04/2015.

NERC, in collaboration with Communicate 2014 (British Natural History Consortium) are inviting applications to the NERC bursary scheme. The scheme is open to NERC funded postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers and NERC fellows only. Applications from students and researchers who have not previously attended Communicate will be prioritised. The deadline for applications is 9am, 06/10/2014.

The Agri-Tech Catalyst, run by the Technology Strategy Board and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, offers funding to innovative businesses and researchers to develop solutions to global agricultural challenges – this is the late-stage awards. There are two types of late-stage awards that projects may be eligible for: pre-experimental feasibility study awards and experimental development awards. Funding through the Agri-Tech Catalyst is available to UK businesses of any size, as well as researchers. The deadline for applications is 07/01/2015.

The Technology Strategy Board and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council are also inviting applications to the Industrial research awards. Industrial research awards enable applicants to evaluate the technical feasibility of an idea and establish proof-of-concept and potential routes to exploitation. Such proposals will embrace longer-term studies in all relevant disciplines that demonstrate the potential to advance the sustainable intensification of agriculture and have an economic impact. Registration for expressions of interest closes on 01/10/2014 with a submission deadline of 08/10/2014.

The Technology Strategy Board is inviting applications to their Adapting cutting-edge technologies project. They will be investing up to £7m in collaborative R&D projects to encourage technologies for road-vehicles that will deliver significant reductions in CO2 emissions and they expect projects to range in size from total costs of £500k to £2m, although they may consider projects outside this range. The competition opens for applications on 08/09/2014. The deadline for registration is noon, 22/10/2014 and the deadline for applications is noon, 29/10/2014.

The Technology Strategy Board and the Environment Agency are now inviting applications to the Non-intrusive river flow measurement competition. This competition is focused on the Environment Agency’s need to measure river flows in challenging locations where existing standard instrumentation cannot be used. However, a solution that could also be deployed in less demanding/normal river conditions would be ideal. In order to enter this competition, registration is required. Registration closes on 15/10/2014 and applications are due in by 22/10/2014. The award is still to be confirmed.

The Welcome Trust is inviting applications to the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science Initiative. The vision of DELTAS Africa is to support the African-led development of world-class researchers and research leaders in Africa. This new generation of scientists will play a major part in shaping and driving a locally relevant health research agenda in Africa, contributing to improved health and development in the continent. Some funding is available. A preliminary application should be completed by 5pm, 02/10/2014.

The Welcome Trust is now inviting applications to their Engagement Fellowships scheme. Engagement Fellowships champion the leaders of tomorrow by fostering the most promising developing talent. They are looking for individuals with a strong track record of engaging the public with ideas around biomedical science and/or medical humanities, who want to make a step-change in their careers. The deadline for applications is 13/02/2015.

Please note that some funders specify a time for submission as well as a date. Please confirm this with your RKE Support Officer.

You can set up your own personalised alerts on ResearchProfessional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s RKE Officer in RKE Operations or see the recent post on this topic, which includes forthcoming training dates up to November 2014.

If thinking of applying, why not add notification of your interest on ResearchProfessional’s record of the bid so that BU colleagues can see your intention to bid and contact you to collaborate.

Royal Academy of Engineering’s Pathways to Growth SME training scheme

Pathways to Growth is a scheme operated by the Royal Academy of Engineering to encourage and support capacity building for engineering and technology SMEs in the UK.  This year, they are intending to offer funding to around 20 SMEs, depending on the grant amount requested (which can be  one of £10,000, £15,000 or £20,000).

Ideally looking for SMEs in engineering and technology with a high growth potential.  The training doesn’t have to be focused on engineering, it can be on whatever best suits the needs of the company to support its growth .  In addition, a number of the successful applicants will also be offered membership of the Enterprise Hub and mentoring from a relevant Fellow to further support their growth potential.

If you are working with a, or have worked with a company that best fit the following criteria they could be considered for this scheme.


  • Engineering and technology SMEs, and
  • Have high growth potential if they had some additional training/mentoring support, and
  • Where they would not be able to fund this level of training themselves


The scheme is in its first year of operation, which means there may be limited awareness out there this year, so applicants could stand a good chance of success! The closing date for applications is 4 p.m. on 23rd September.

In the first instance please contact Jayne Codling in R&KEO  – email or phone ext 61215 to register your interest and to receive more information.




Synthetic Biology Applications in Defence – Multi-million pound competition

MOD’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) is launching a multi-million pound competition for research proposals for highly innovative synthetic biology approaches applicable to the defence and security sectors.

 Synthetic biology has the potential to address several difficult challenges facing UK defence and security. It could provide new ways to protect both the armed forces and civilian populations.

The purpose of this CDE themed competition for short-term, proof-of-concept research proposals is to reach out to all sectors for cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research through the application of existing synthetic biology tools and techniques, but using novel research approaches.

The scope of this competition is deliberately broad and non-prescriptive to encourage novel ideas applicable to land, air or maritime environments.  Areas where synthetic biology could contribute to defence and security include, but are not limited to:

  • protection of personnel or equipment
  • sensor technologies to detect chemicals, such as explosives, forces, such as gravity, or to indicate physical status, such as integrity
  • materials exhibiting unique properties or added functionality
  • decontamination approaches
  • camouflage solutions including noise and emission reduction.

For further details visit the website.


Last week’s HE news…

Posted in Uncategorized by ccherry


Please find last week’s policy digest below. I will be on leave now for two weeks, so you will get a bumper edition on 8 Sept.


Monday 18 August

Graduate opportunities

An extensive piece in The Times looks at the need for more realistic and accurate career guidance in law. More than 17,500 graduates are pursuing about 5,000 training contracts at law firms and some 400 pupillages in barristers’ chambers.

The worsening odds for today’s student lawyers (The Times)


Tuesday 19 August 

Clearing update 

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) said the number of applicants accepted by their insurance choice of university was 33,240, an increase of 14 per cent. This increase is thought to have been caused because of the dip in A-level grades awarded last week. Some universities have lowered entry requirements but others refused to accept near-miss candidates in the hope of snapping up better qualified teenagers who have been rejected by higher tariff universities. 

Students forced to settle for second choice university (The Times)

Clearing: an unedifying spectacle of unis going cap-in-hand to students (The Guardian – Higher Education Network blog)


Wednesday 20 August

Student fees 

A survey by Saga said the ‘Bank of Nan and Grandad’ will hand out around £16.7 billion for their grandchildren’s academic studies. The survey of nearly 10,000 people over the age of 50 revealed how the amount of financial assistance provided by the country’s devoted grandparents has increased sharply. Five years ago, a similar investigation found Grandparents typically handing over around £1000 for university education. Today, this averages £4000.

More than a third of grandparents admit helping to pay for their grandchildren to go through university  (The Daily Mail)


Thursday 21 August

Graduate opportunities

The Independent looks at how graduates are finding it difficult to get a job after leaving universities because they don’t have the right skills or experience. It suggests the demands from recruiters for experienced entry-level graduates seems unrealistically high: it can be challenging to juggle work experience and study and not all degrees provide the option of a placement year to gain industry experience. However, the graduate labour market is showing signs of improvement. At the end of July the Association of Graduate Recruiters released a report that predicts a 17 per cent rise in graduate job vacancies this year. The Telegraph piece suggests graduates are rushing into the wrong roles for fear of having a hole in their CV after university. 

Got the degree – now for the job (The Independent)

Graduates take wrong job just to be employed(Telegraph)

STEM subjects

A HEFCE study of student numbers has shown that STEM subjects have emerged well from the tripling of maximum tuition fees in 2012-2013 suggesting the government has had some success in protecting the disciplines during a period of radical change. But languages have continued to decline with HEFCE warning numbers in 2013-14 could be at their lowest level for a decade.

Demand for STEM subjects holds up in wake of fees hike, (THE)


Friday 22 August

Participation age

An extensive piece from BBC News online which examines the impact of raising the leaving age to 17 last September (which will rise to 18 in September 2016).  It looks particularly at GCSEs with Prof Alison Wolf, a specialist in the relationship between education and the labour market at King’s College London and who authored the 2011 review of vocational education, arguing that GCSEs remain an important benchmark as the results determine students’ progress into their next stage of education, training or employment. However Prof Alan Smithers, director of Buckingham University’s Centre for Education and Employment Research, would prefer to see GCSEs replaced with exams at 14 or 15.

Do GCSEs still matter with a school leaving age of 17? (BBC News)

Developing Research Outputs

Well the summer is drawing to a close and you may, or may not, have had done what you planned in way of research this summer, but if nothing else I hope you have had some fun and enjoyed your leave.  I have chosen not to post on our research blog since stepping down as PVC at Christmas, but am breaking my silence to draw your attention to a couple of things – this is the first of two posts.  The second will follow in due course and is a request for some help with a piece of research.

I have put together for the autumn a seven week programme of seminars that deal with research practice drawing on my own experience.  The programme is independent of any official development programme, but forms a natural complement to other things running at BU, such as the Grants and Writing Academies.  The course caters for all types of research not just those based in the sciences and the weekly sessions will consist of a seminar with an opportunity for discussion, as well as time in which participants can discuss their current projects, papers and bids.

The programme is free and open to all members of academic and professional/support staff at BU.  A certificate of attendance and completion will be issued and registration is via Organisational Development:

The only pre-requisite is that participant’s make a commitment via a ‘learning contract’ to attend each of the sessions, unless absent due to unforeseen circumstances outside work.  The programme will run on Tuesday lunchtimes (12.15 to 13.45) and starts on the 21nd October 2014.  Participants are welcome to bring their lunch if they wish.  The minimum cohort size is 8 and confirmation that the programme will run will be given by 1st October 2014.  If there is sufficient interest a second cohort may run in the spring term.  You will find further details at Staff Intranet including an outline programme.

Going to America? Open Access Conference Funding for ECRs & Students

On the 15-17 November the Right to Research Coalition and SPARC will launch OpenCon, a new conference to support, connect, and catalyze student and early career researcher-led projects across Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data in Washington, DC.

The full cost of attendance for the majority of participants will be covered by travel scholarships provided through the generous support of sponsor organizations. However, application deadline is midnight PDT on Monday, August 25th.

All students and early career researchers with an interest in Open Access, Open Education and Open Data are encouraged to apply at The application includes the ability to apply for a travel scholarship.

Further information on the conference can be found here –

If anyone is interested in applying, please liaise with me (Shelly Anne Stringer) by 9am Thursday (20th).

Non-intrusive river flow measurement – funding available

This SBRI competition is focused on the Environment Agency’s need to measure river flows in challenging locations where existing standard instrumentation cannot be used. However, a solution that could also be deployed in less demanding/normal river conditions would be ideal.

 Over 5.5 million, or one in six, properties are at risk of flooding from all types of floods across England and Wales. The latest UKCP09 climate change projections indicate rising sea levels and increasingly severe and frequent rainstorms mean the risk of floods will increase.
The Environment Agency requires a non intrusive method of river flow measurement which is capable of measuring river flows to “bank full” in rivers with variable backwater, weed growth and with a mobile bed load.
Priority requirements
  • a cost-effective solution
  • minimise the need for in-channel civil engineering works
  • the solution must provide data outputs that can be ported into Environment Agency telemetry systems
  • the solution should be low maintenance
  • it should be able to be supported and maintained by non-specialist staff with moderate technical skills
  • to be able to measure flows in channels that are affected by in channel weed growth and mobile beds
  • to be able to measure flows to local bank full level
  • the solution should measure flows to an accuracy of 6 to 15% or better in the range of flows of interest
  • not affect fish migration, both upstream and downstream
  • have a minimal impact on river fauna and flora and sediment transport
  • meet as many of the aspirational specifications as possible for the proposed new technology (highlighted in the competition brief)
Further details of the challenge are included in the competition brief.
Register for the networking and  briefing event – to be held in London on  Monday 15 September 2014.
Key dates for this call can be found here.

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