Tagged / EPSRC

EPSRC launches a science and engineering blog

A new science and engineering blog will provide debate and opinion pieces from leading thinkers on research, innovation and science funding policy.

The blog, launched by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will seek contributions from scientists and engineers as well as EPSRC staff.

Announcing the launch, Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of EPSRC says; ‘We want the EPSRC blog to host debate, share thinking and provide different perspectives on topics affecting the engineering and physical sciences community.  It is vital that as a community we remain engaged on developments and issues. I hope the EPSRC blog will prove an additional and very useful tool in doing just that.’

Within the first blog post Professor Nelson sets out EPSRC’s strategic plan and outlines discussions around how research is best supported, the university eco-system and opportunities to support innovation.

Dr Nick Hawes, from the University of Birmingham, argues why scientists working in robotics and artificial intelligence need to engage with the public. His blog post sets out tips for public engagement, gives examples of robot demonstrations and tweeting robots, with data to demonstrate the worldwide online impact.

EPSRC revises its Strategic Plan

EPSRC’s Strategic Plan 2015 sets out the direction of their policy for at least the next five years.

This up-dated Strategic Plan has been developed following input from their partners and communities. It recognises external influences including the international research landscape, global economic situation and government strategies. EPSRC have said that it will allow them to continue to deliver the world-leading science and engineering research and skills to sustain UK innovation.

EPSRC are seeking new members for Strategic Advisory Bodies

The EPSRC is seeking applications from industrialists, academics and individuals working in the third sector and government organisations to join Strategic Advisory Teams (SATs), across the range of EPSRC’s Themes.

In addition, EPSRC, on behalf of partner Research Councils, is seeking applications for the RCUK Energy Theme’s Strategic Advisory Committee (SAC) and the Digital Economy Theme’s Programme Advisory Board (PAB).

Strategic Advisory Teams exist to provide Theme Leaders at EPSRC with strategic advice that will assist them to develop, implement and modify plans. The Energy SAC and Digital Economy PAB perform the same function for the respective cross-Research Council Programmes. These bodies consist of up to 16 members, depending on the needs of the Theme / Programme. They are devised as a flexible resource, enabling Theme Leaders to obtain the advice they need in a timely manner, drawing on a range of perspectives from across our key stakeholder groups. Further information and terms of reference for SATs can be found on the EPSRC website. Further information on the Energy SAC and the Digital Economy PAB can be found on the RCUK website.

Role and person specification

SAT Members are drawn from EPSRC’s stakeholder groupings. SAC and PAB members are also drawn from these groups, as well as the stakeholder groupings of other relevant Research Councils. Members of all strategic advisory bodies are expected to bring a broad strategic view to bear and to act as ‘generous generalists’, advising across the breadth of EPSRC’s portfolio and the portfolios of other Councils where appropriate.

Members are not required to act as representatives of their own organisation, research area or sector.

The specific requirements sought are:


  • Credibility in the relevant research communities, including academe or the user base.
  • Ability to take a strategic overview of research and skills needs relevant to the Theme.
  • An understanding of the international context within which the Theme sits.
  • Ability to work flexibly in a team and adapt to new ways of working, using both domain expertise and wider cross-disciplinary perspectives.
  • Appreciation of ethical issues and the need for responsible innovation in the conduct of research.
  • Preparedness to challenge EPSRC policies (and those of other Research Councils where appropriate) in a constructive way.
  • Willingness to help with two-way communication between EPSRC (and other Research Councils where appropriate) and the research community.
  • Willingness to devote sufficient time to the role.

As part of this exercise, a Chair for each SAT / SAC / PAB will also be identified. The specific requirements for the Chair are:


  • Experience of working with EPSRC or other Research Councils, normally through an advisory body.
  • Experience of chairing meetings
  • Ability to ensure that all SAT / SAC / PAB member views are heard, the recorded advice is representative of the views expressed and that all present have discharged their roles appropriately.
  • Knowledge of EPSRC’s corporate strategies and policies.


Each Theme’s Strategic Advisory Body meets at least two times per year. Additionally, they hold conferences to bring Strategic Advisory Bodies from all Themes together. SAT / SAC / PAB members may also be asked to take part in other EPSRC business (or that of other Councils as appropriate), including but not limited to workshops, advisory groups for specific activities and peer-review prioritisation panels.

Further information

The vacancies can be found here and the selection and appointment process can be found here.

When telling tales is good!

The RCUK Digital Economy Theme ‘Telling Tales of Engagement’ Competition 2014

The RCUK Digital Economy Theme is running a competition designed to help capture and promote the impact that your digital economy research is having. Three prizes of £10,000 are available to support researchers to further tell the story of your research impact in an interesting and engaging way to a wider audience.

Key Dates

Activity Date 
Call for EoIs launched 05 September 2014
Deadline for EoIs 19 November 2014
Panel and Funding decision 06 December 2014
Award duration From January 2015

The RCUK Digital Economy Theme (DET) is running a competition designed to help capture and promote the impact that your digital economy research is having. Three prizes of £10,000 are available to support researchers to further tell the story of research impact in an interesting and engaging way to a wider audience. The competition, which has been co-developed with the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), is designed to produce very informative case study exemplars which can be used to help the wider research community develop understanding of the nature of a pathway to impact. It aims to encourage applicants to tell a story to describe the pathway to impact which actually occurred. This should be even more informative because understanding how impact arises is key to planning for future impact pathways. They want the stories to portray impact as including what capability has changed outside the institutions, and what benefits that exercising this capability change has then delivered. Each “Tale of Engagement” should show how the actual impact arises and the evidence of the impact itself and will thereby show clearly the link between the impact and the research. Choosing how to tell the story should reflect the nature of the story itself. The story should stimulate thinking on a more imaginative and illustrative ways to tell the tale of engagement and the resulting impact.

How to Apply
Please complete the form at the main call page (http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/calls/tellingtales2014), addressing the questions raised in “Scope of Competition” section and taking into account the “Guidance on completing proforma” notes below. Please ensure you include a single PowerPoint slide which summarises your entry in an interesting and engaging way.

DEADLINE: 12:00 (noon) on Wednesday 19 November 2014.

You can find further information here: TellingTalesOfEngagementCall

If you have any questions, then please do contact:
Dr John Baird 01793 444 047
Mrs Ruth Slade 01793 444 261

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: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/calls/engineeringgrandchallenge/) by 15 September 2014. If you have any queries please email engineeringgrandchallenges@epsrc.ac.uk

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


Epidurals PhD researcher wins EPSRC award

Congratulations to SciTech’s Dr Neil Vaughan who has won the EPSRC’s ICT Pioneers ‘Transforming Society’ award. The accolade, which recognises the most exceptional UK PhD students, was awarded to Neil at a ceremony in Westminster last week for his innovative epidural simulator project.

The simulator uses software to replicate the epidural process, thereby assisting in training for this delicate procedure that is performed over 1000 times each day in the UK.

Neil’s supervisor Dr Venky Dubey said: “This is an exceptional achievement for BU and the collaborating partner Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Neil was up against stiff competition from top universities, including the University of Oxford, University College London and the University of Bath.”

The clinical project was proposed by the senior consultant anaesthetist at Poole Hospital, Professor Michael Wee, who also co-supervised the PhD.

Neil’s work was judged by a panel of technical experts from academia and industry. He triumphed through a rigorous selection process over a six month period, which included a written proposal, video and poster presentation. This culminated in a high-profile research showcase, where finalists pitched their project to representatives from the EPSRC, Hewlett Packard, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), BT and an audience of hundreds.

For more information about the project view the news item on the research webpages.

Enabling access to UK HE research equipment

What is equipment.data?

The development of equipment.data is funded by EPSRC in response to the need to improve visibility and utilisation of UK HE research equipment.

equipment.data has been established to provide a ‘shop window’ for all UK HE research equipment, supporting the need for greater accessibility and efficiency in the sector. So, if your research requires a mass spectrometer, rather than request funding for a new one, you can search the equipment.data database for a university near to you that has one and discuss options for its use.  This has the ultimate aim of fostering further research collaboration.

The database harvests published equipment datasets from institutions that have agreed to share their equipment data (under an open publishing license). It currently displays over 2500 items, both facilities and equipment, from 10 institutions, which includes BU.

A very easy to follow guide has been produced on how to use the equipment.data.ac.uk website. This provides simple steps on both accessing and contributing to the equipment and facilities database.

OK, how do I contribute?

If you want to add equipment to the database, please contact your DDRE in the first instance.  They will advise on what format needs to be used so that you can provide the information in order for it to be uploaded centrally.

Commitment to the future

By adopting a linked open data approach to data management and publishing, it is creating an infrastructure enabling greater opportunities for added value data aggregations in the future.

Developments are being shared with RCUK’s Gateway to Research team and the DCC with a view to exploring mutual benefits of data publishing, aggregation and standardising of publishing profiles in data management planning. Harmonised standards in open data will present many wider benefits moving forward, including the ability to very easily link information on large equipment items or facilities to their publications and grant details – think measuring impact for REF! It enables the creation of data rich informative web pages or informative apps without the need to create whole new datasets.

Following the signing of the Open Data Charter on 18 June 2013 by G8 leaders, members identified 14 high-value areas, including education, from which they will release data. With this commitment to open data there is a greater need to consider open publication of datasets and how best to publish in a way that will enable value to be achieved from it.

EPSRC Strategic Advisory Routes – time for you to have your say!

EPSRC logoThe EPSRC has recently commissioned an independent review of its strategic advisory routes. The review will focus on how the EPSRC obtains and utilises strategic advice at the Council and Theme levels and both the mechanisms and sources for obtaining such advice and how this influences strategic decision-making. Initial areas covered as part of the review are:

  • Nature of advice – who decides what advice is sought and needed;
  • Structures – to review the adequacy and effectiveness of the structures in place for obtaining strategic advice;
  • Credibility of Advisory Sources – assurance over the extent to which the individuals and bodies providing advice are credible sources;
  • Roles and responsibilities – to review the effectiveness, and clarity, of roles and responsibilities of those involved in commissioning, and those providing, strategic advice in EPSRC;
  • Provision and utilisation of advice – to review the effectiveness of the advice provided (e.g. its robustness and the degree to which it is free from bias or vested interest), and its value (e.g. its relevance and timeliness) in informing EPSRC’s strategic planning and decision making.
  • Transparency – to review the clarity and transparency of the strategic advisory processes to EPSRC’s wider stakeholder community;
  • Cost-effectiveness of the mechanisms and processes used. .

BU has been invited to submit evidence to assist in this review and I am collating responses. Please take a couple of minutes to complete this short survey; all responses will remain confidential. The deadline for completing the survey is 10am Tuesday 23rd April.

Wanted: members for RC governing councils

Six research councils are inviting applications to fill governing council vacancies expected to arise in 2013.

Suitably qualified academics and experienced individuals from industry, commerce, government, and the voluntary, creative and cultural sectors, can apply.

The vacancies are at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

The vacancies include some positions with audit committee responsibilities for part-time membership.

Annual honoraria of £6,850 will be paid. The closing date for applications is 19 November.

EPSRC UK-India partnership in smart energy grids and energy storage technologies

The EPSRC, under the Research Council UK’s energy programme, and the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, have launched a joint call for proposals for their UK-India partnership in smart energy grids and energy storage technologies. This seeks to strengthen collaboration between UK and Indian research institutions within an overarching focus on research relating to smart energy grids and energy storage technologies. Proposals must address one of the following areas:

•appropriate distributed storage technologies;

•on/off grid energy systems;

•DC networks;

•control and communications.

Projects must be joint activities involving research groups from both India and the UK, and must involve personnel exchange between the Indian and UK partners. All proposals must be for consortia, with equal or proportionate participation from UK and Indian researchers. UK applicants must be the principal investigator or co-investigator on a current Research Council award. Higher education institutions, some Research Council institutes and independent research organisations are eligible to apply.

The costs for UK institutions will be met by EPSRC, and those for Indian institutions will be met by DST. EPSRC will contribute up to £5 million for this call over a three-year period with matched resources from DST. The deadline is 15.11.12

EPSRC – Research Challenges in Geological Storage for Carbon Capture and Storage

Closing date: 16:00 on 13 November 2012

Issue date: 25 July 2012

Category: Invitation for proposals 

Related theme: Energy

EPSRC, as part of the RCUK Energy Programme invites proposals for collaborative research projects to undertake fundamental engineering and physical sciences research to tackle challenges around geological storage that will help advance carbon capture and storage (CCS) towards deployment.

The Energy Programme supports a substantial portfolio in carbon capture and storage research, but the majority of it supported through EPSRC focuses on carbon capture and transport. It is clear that geological storage aspects of CCS offer substantial research challenges so this call focuses on the contribution that engineering and physical sciences research can make to the challenges of geological storage for CCS.

The scope of the call was developed at a scoping workshop held on 10 July 2012. A report of the outputs from this workshop can be downloaded from this page.

Contact: Jacqui Williams

The RKE Operations team can help you with your application. 

EPSRC Call for Ground and Structural Engineering

Closing date: 16:00 on 20 September 2012


Engineers have an important contribution to make by solving major challenges. The government has recognised key challenges pertaining to our nation’s long term construction and infrastructure needs and associated quality of life and economic competitiveness. This call focuses on one aspect of this where engineers and physical scientists have a leadership role to play.

The Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) invites proposals for research into Ground and Structural Engineering focussed on the challenges highlighted in the EPSRC Review of the area. EPSRC has a possible £8M to support up to five high quality consortia led proposals in the area of Ground and Structural Engineering.

Proposals will be assessed using a two stage process. First there will be an expert reviewers sift panel followed by an interview stage for invited applicants.

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate that the two networks funded by EPSRC in this research area in 2011 have facilitated the proposed research.

Furthermore applicants must complete the intent to submit web form found here by 24 August 2012 indicating their intention to submit. In the event of the likelihood of multiple submissions from the same institution or group ESPRC reserve the right to require bids to be consolidated prior to final submission.

Documents to download

 The RKE Operations team can help you with your application.

EPSRC Overseas Travel Grants – Call


Overseas travel grants provide funding for international travel and subsistence. You can use them to visit recognised non-UK centres to study new techniques and to travel from the UK to start or develop international collaborations.

There is no limit on amount of funding and no closing dates.

Salary and indirect costs

In addition to travel and subsistence, the principal investigator can request funds to cover their salary and indirect costs. But funding is not available through this scheme to specifically support sabbatical absences or conference attendance. Consumables and equipment (e.g. laptops) are not covered under this scheme.

Number of people

The OTG should normally be for the support of the named principal investigator only. Support for other staff such as PhD students and researcher co-investigators can be requested although their inclusion should be fully justified.

Timing and the length of the grant

There is no upper limit on the length of grant.

If the funding decision for an OTG comes after the requested start date of the grant, the funding cannot be backdated. EPSRC do not allow any expenditure incurred before the announcement date to be charged to the grant. So please ensure you leave enough time for processing, which is currently at least 12 weeks before the proposed visit.

Where can you go

As long as the visit is to a recognised research centre there are no restrictions on which countries can be visited. If you need a visa to enter a country, you can include the cost of obtaining a visa in your proposal. But OTGs are exclusively for travel abroad, outside the UK. However you can apply for funding for researchers from abroad to visit the UK as a visiting researcher on a research grant proposal.

Linking OTG proposals to an existing ESPRC research grant

You do not need to link an OTG proposal to an existing EPSRC research grant. But there is an expectation that any new techniques learned or collaborations formed may lead to future research proposals.

OTGs and first grants

An applicant who has been a Principle Investigator on an OTG would be eligible to apply for a first grant. Applying for an OTG does not affect eligibility for the first grant scheme.

Support for researchers applying to Framework Programme 7

You can use overseas travel grants to help UK researchers to start or foster international collaborations to develop high-quality bids to Framework Programme 7 (FP7). Your application should address how the grant will help develop collaborations with European researchers for a FP7 bid.

Who can apply

Overseas travel grants (OTGs) are open to any full-time investigator employed by a recognised UK research organisation (excluding PhD students and PDRAs). Our funding guide gives full details of eligibility of organisations and individuals.

How to apply

You can apply for travel and subsistence, salary costs of the principal investigator for time spent on the grant, and indirect costs. There are no closing dates and you can apply at any time. You can apply for funding to visit one centre or several centres.

You should submit your proposal through the research councils’ joint electronic submission (Je-S) system. Select document type ‘standard proposal’ and scheme ‘overseas travel grant’. As these are usually smaller grants than standard responsive mode applications, it may not be appropriate for your description of the proposed research to fill the allocated 6 sides A4. Please complete as much as required to fully justify your intended visit.


Proposals are assessed through our peer review process. If a proposal gets supportive referees’ comments, funding may be approved without consideration at a prioritisation panel. We try to provide a fast turnaround for these proposals but advise you to apply at least 12 weeks before the proposed visit.

More information

If you would like to discuss a possible proposal, or if you have any questions regarding applications for funding to develop collaborations for FP7 proposals than please search our staff contacts to find the person responsible for your research area. We cannot supply examples of successful OTG applications as these proposals have been submitted to us in confidence.

The RKE Operations team can help you with your application.

EPSRC Visiting Researchers call

EPSRC can provide funding for research scientists and engineers of acknowledged standing to visit a UK research organisation. The visiting researcher can be from anywhere in the world, including the UK.


Up to 12 months’ funding is available per visiting researcher to cover salary costs, travel and subsistence. The researcher can either make one long visit or a series of shorter visits within the 12-month period.

If the proposal is successful, EPSRC will make a grant to the host UK research organisation.

How to apply

There are no closing dates – you can apply at any time. The host UK researcher needs to apply for funding, not the visiting researcher.

Visiting researchers are part of EPSRC’s research base funding where you can apply at any time and in any area of our remit. You can ask for funding for one or more visiting researchers only as part of a larger research proposal.

You should submit your proposal electronically through the Research Councils’ joint electronic submission system (Je-S) as a standard proposal.

The research organisation should include Estates Costs and Indirect Costs for any Visiting Researcher regardless of whether the support being requested includes a salary contribution or is only Travel and Subsistence.


Funding applications are assessed using the same peer review process as other responsive mode research proposals.

The RKE Operations team can help you with your application.

EPSRC call for UK and India Partnership in Advanced Manufacturing Research Challenges


Twenty-first century manufacturing is an increasingly global endeavour, driven by the rapid pace of technological change. High-value manufacturing processes are increasingly moving towards flexible, intelligent production systems that involve the inter-play of novel technologies, advanced materials, in-line analysis and ICT, dual working of people and automated systems, and precision engineered products and systems. Vital to all industrial sectors, modern manufacturing is more than merely production – it encompasses R&D, design, prototyping, production, distribution, service and support provision, and end-of-life repair, recycle or reuse.

Manufacturing is a top priority in both UK and Indian plans for economic growth. In 2011, India launched a National Manufacturing Policy that aims to increase manufacturing activity from a current 16% GDP to 25% by 2022. This equates to a growth rate of 12 14% per year, and aims to generate 100 million new jobs. The UK’s coalition government has also placed manufacturing at the heart of the economic recovery, and has published a series of policy announcements and reviews on the subject.

EPSRC and the Department of Science & Technology (DST) expect to commit up to £3M (Rs 23 crore) each on research programmes of up to three years in length. The funded programmes are expected to vary in size according to the demands of the proposed research, up to a maximum of £1M total, and will involve both UK and Indian researchers. This call invites applicants to submit a proposal for funding.

The proposal will be assessed by expert postal peer review, and those that are sufficiently supported will be advanced to a funding decision panel in February 2013. Funding decisions are expected to be made in March 2013.

Key dates

Activity Date
India and UK announcement date          02 July 2012
Call opens in Je-S for proposals 2 July 2012
Closing date for proposals 27 September 2012
UK (Je-S submission) deadline 16:00 GMT
India (DST receipt) deadline 20:30 Indian time
Postal peer review Early October 2012
Prioritisation panel for proposals February 2013
Grants announced March 2013
Funded projects to start January 2014 onwards

Documents to download

The RKE Operations team can help you with your application.

Adele Ladkin joins the EPSRC workshop ‘Sustainable Society: Achieving work-life balance on a digitally dependent world’

EPSRC issued an expression of interest in April for applicants to participate in a virtual workshop on the topic of Sustainable Society.

Adele Ladkin, Professor of Tourism Employment, from the School of Tourism has been accepted to join the workshop to be held in two stages, in July.  Adele’s application focused around work-life balance in the tourism and hospitality sectors.  These sectors raise two issues, the first is the long hours culture and shift work characteristic of many jobs that invariably leads to reduced leisure time for employees, compounded with the emotional and physical strain of irregular working hours.  Second, in the accommodation sector, particularly small accommodation providers such as B&B’s, there is often no physical separation of work from home.  Business takes place within the home resulting in the boundaries between work and home becoming blurred, creating another dimension to work life balance.

Adele is looking forward to participating in the two events that will give her the opportunity to potentially work across different disciplines.

Good luck Adele!

Digital Economy finds NEMODE

Academics from multi-disciplinary backgrounds recently attended a two day Digital Economy Network+ event at the University of Cambridge. The aim of the event was to continue the process of building a network of people interested researching New Economic Models for the Digital Economy.

The focus of the event was to share the diverse perspectives on new economic models for the digital economy and to develop and shape the research agenda on two key themes;

  • What are economic models and how do different communities define them?
  • Does an economic model differ from a business model?

Both days consisted of a number of brainstorm and discussion activities that opened with each academic presenting their views on the ‘big questions’ in relation to their own subject domain, which in my case is Media Management. It was certainly interesting to look at the same research questions from very different perspectives, and it this has helped inform my thinking for the Advances in Media Management (AiMM) research group that I lead and our forthcoming symposium on New Economic Models.

Further network events are planned, but for those BU academics researching within our own  Creative & Digital Economy Theme – the funding headlines are;

  • The EPSRC are managing the New Economic Models sub-theme of the Digital Economy
  • The network will now be known as NEMODE
  • NEMODE have £980k to support network activities including funding 10 small (£50k) feasibility/scoping studies. A call for the first two projects will be made in October this year.
  • Successful feasibility studies can be scaled up via direct applications to the RCUK Digital Economy.
  • Funding Applications that involve practitioners will be looked upon more favourably – which sits nicely with BU’s Fusion Strategy!