Category / Strategic Investment Areas

The SIA call for game-changing research concepts: insights from the Institute for the Modelling of Social Environmental Transitions

In this guest blog post, Dr Emma Jenkins, outlines how a concept for interdisciplinary research has become a lived reality through a previous SIA EoI open call… 

The Institute for the Modelling of Socio-Environmental Transitions (IMSET) started off as a vague notion of where the field of archaeology is heading and where BU’s Department of Archaeology & Anthropology could make a significant contribution. The core challenges facing the world are summarised in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The problems behind most of these challenges, however, are neither modern nor restricted to the present – some have long histories that set the world on the trajectory it currently is while others are known to have already challenged communities and societies in the past. This is as true of the recent historic past, as it is of the deeper timelines of prehistory. IMSET was conceptually founded on the notion that we can learn from these past occurrences of socio-environmental transitions, and that what we learn from them can be useful for present and future challenges facing the world. Archaeology, anthropology and palaeoecology can contribute the necessary data, whereas computational modelling and analysis can help shed light on the complex dynamics of the interactions and bidirectional impact between people and their ecosystems.

These ideas gathered momentum with the first BU’s Strategic Investment Areas call for Expressions of Interest in 2018. What was but a vague notion to begin with, developed into a proposal to create a multidisciplinary research institute that straddled the fields of archaeology, anthropology, ecology and computer science with the aim of furthering our understanding of how human societies responded to climate and environmental change in the past in order to provide insights into how modern societies can adapt to the challenges facing them. This was a bold request which, to both our surprise and delight, was picked up to be developed into a Full Business Case in 2019 which enabled the creation of IMSET.

The development of IMSET was a team effort. We were one of the first projects to be asked to complete a Business Case and the first to be supported under the SIA call and, as such, we could be described as ‘lucky guinea pigs’! Some of the procedural ‘hoops’ that we needed to jump through were not really suitable for our purposes and we were also met with one or two ‘surprise deadlines’ but colleagues in RDS and the OVC went above and beyond to support us with some of these challenges. We also, all, learnt a lot from this process and our understanding is that the application procedure is much more transparent and streamlined than it was back in 2019. As an institute we have, on the whole, been fantastically supported throughout this journey by professional services staff across BU and our advice would be that if you have an idea, no matter how vague or crazy, you should go for it. If there was one piece of advice we would give, it would be don’t start a new research institute, that is predicated on the need for over-seas fieldwork and international collaboration, right at the beginning of a global pandemic! Otherwise Good Luck!

At BU we are keen to foster amazing, game-changing, transformative research ideas, so if you have one we would love to hear from you. You are invited to put forward your ideas through the current Strategic Investment Areas (SIA) EoI call for transformative research concepts, aimed at providing the dedicated, tailored support to make your research ideas a reality.

To learn more about the call, sign-up now for one of our open briefing sessions or learn more on the staff intranet.

If you would like to learn more about IMSET or collaborate directly with the team, email Dr Emma Jenkins or see their webpages

What’s your idea of a research game changer?

When I was asked to think about what signifies a ‘game changer’ in terms of research, it didn’t take me long to think about the huge effort and scientific endeavour that has led to the development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, in a step that will hopefully lead to a more ‘normal’ way of life over the coming months.

As the government announces plans to approve the fourth coronavirus vaccine, what seemed like an impossible feat a year ago was achieved in a matter of months. Twelve months ago, few of us would have imagined we’d have developed, trialled, and approved four vaccines for use in the time we have. What we have seen over the last year is nothing short of game changing research in its highest form.

I’m not a scientist nor an academic, but I have worked in health research for over 10 years and the collective effort that has gone into all COVID-19 research is clear. Over 1 million participants have now taken part in COVID-19 research, across over 180 studies in the UK. This has been achieved through doctors, nurses, members of the public, academics, scientists, researchers, research managers and administrators, regulators, life science companies, funders and policy makers all working together to a timeline considered unusual for clinical research. This monumental effort has led to world-leading research into therapeutics, as well as delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which saw 10,000 UK patients recruited over 20 sites.

Game changing research – what is it?

When I looked up the definition of a ‘game changer’, the Oxford English Dictionary tells me it’s “an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something.” Not all of us are going to have the opportunity to develop a new vaccine, but we can all think of a new way of doing something, and that’s the beauty of research.

At BU we are keen to foster amazing, game changing, transformative research ideas, so if you have one we would love to hear from you. You are invited to put forward your ideas through the current Strategic Investment Areas (SIA) EoI call for transformative research concepts, aimed at providing the dedicated, tailored support to make your research ideas a reality.

To learn more about the call, sign-up now for one of our open briefing sessions or learn more on the staff intranet.

SIA open call for game changing concepts: Hear from BU collaborator, Paul Brookes from Siemens, about the future R&D needs of industry

Bournemouth University is delighted that Paul Brookes, Head of Innovation, Siemens ITS at Siemens Mobility Ltd, will be providing an open briefing session to BU on Thursday 15th April at 12noon. He will explore current research priorities before an open Q&A session. This online event will be chaired by SIA Conveners, Professors Christos Gatzidis and Kate Welham.

Paul’s experience spans three industry sectors: computer systems, motion control and intelligent transport systems. He has specialties in broad and deep understanding of electronics, embedded software, cloud (AWS), people management, employee development, competency frameworks, networking, design thinking, innovation and business development. Paul is currently working on 5G, IoT, connected car, infrastructure as a service, cooperative perception and AI.

Paul works closely with BU, is an External Advisory Board member for Animation, Simulation & Visualisation SIA, and has kindly agreed to provide insight from his experience as to the future research needs of industry.

This is an opportunity to develop expressions of interest for the SIA open call for game-changing research concepts.

To register for this open session, please email to receive the diary invitation and video conference link.



Defining BU’s research future: what could you do?

If ever there was a year in which technology has transformed the ways in which we live our lives, it has been 2020-21. Gone are the meetings in formal committee rooms, and the casual chat with a colleague over a cup of coffee, and enter the plethora of video conference facilities that now shape our lives.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of this to me (as an entirely biased social scientist!) is how the challenge that society faces, combined with the technology at our fingertips, has led to profound (and I suspect long-lasting) shifts in our social practices. But how will technology change our lives in future?

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have recently released a guide detailing their top 10 Tech Priorities, summarised as follows:

  1. Rolling out world-class digital infrastructure nationwide
  2. Unlocking the power of data
  3. Building a tech-savvy nation
  4. Keeping the UK safe and secure online
  5. Fuelling a new era of start-ups and scaleups
  6. Unleashing the transformational power of tech and AI
  7. Championing free and fair digital trade
  8. Leading the global conversation on tech
  9. Levelling up digital prosperity across the UK
  10. Using digital innovation to reach Net Zero

Arguably, whilst none of these are new/surprising thematic areas, they do – in themselves – embed challenging research questions in which academic research will be integral to secure and progress societal expectations.

Furthermore, although they are labelled as ‘tech’ priorities – for me, they are inherently interdisciplinary in their very nature. Effective leadership and engagement surely requires a multidisciplinary approach, achieving net zero won’t happen with technological solutions alone – we will also need profound social change. Barriers to start-ups and scaleups aren’t necessarily owing to a lack of innovation, but around how IP is protected, understood and shared.

As a community of researchers, it is important that we consider and challenge the technological imperative and draw upon our interdisciplinary strengths to contribute effectively to our future. What could you do to contribute to this agenda and progress academic research with it? Do you and your collaborators have fundamental research questions that could provide this insight, that as a University we can support you in developing? If so, could you consider developing an EoI for our next SIA open call for concepts?

BU is committed to nurturing the game-changing research concepts which will define our future, through our Strategic Investments Areas (SIAs). To learn more about the current SIA EoI call for transformative research concepts, sign-up now for one of our open briefing sessions or learn more on the staff intranet.

SIA open call for game changing research concepts: what could you do? Sign up now to find out more!

Last Friday, we announced the call for game-changing research concepts to enable the growth of BU’s Strategic Investment Areas.

This is your opportunity to put forward the concepts for which BU will be known in the years to come. Concepts that are prioritised for development by the SIA Steering Groups, will benefit from tailored institutional support to turn your idea into a reality.  This could include identification of match-funding, support from estates, personalised funding development support and much more – you tell us what you need!

 Game-changing research concepts are welcomed from all of our academic community across all career stages. 

To learn more about the SIAs, the open call and to discuss what you could do, read further details on the staff intranet and sign-up for sessions now by emailing 

Briefing events are taking place on the following dates:

  • Medical Science SIA briefing session, led by Prof Stephen Tee – 9.30am on 6th April
  • Animation, Simulation & Visualisation SIA briefing session, led by Prof Kate Welham – 10am on 7th April
  • Assistive Technology SIA briefing session, led by Prof Christos Gatzidis, 10.30am on 22nd April
  • Sustainability, Low Carbon Technology and Materials Science SIA briefing session, led by Prof Richard Stillman, time and date TBC

General drop in-sessions for any queries, to discuss potential ideas or to identify potential BU partners are taking place on the following dates/times supported by SIA Steering Group members and RDS staff:

  • 1st April at 2pm
  • 8th April at 2pm
  • 19th April at 11.30pm
  • 29th April at 2pm

Email to get your diary invitation now!