On the afternoon of the 14 December 2011 we will be launching the Fusion Seminar series with an event focused around launching the eight BU Research Themes.
The event will combine time for cross-BU networking within these themes, with sessions led by theme champions focusing on defining the challenges in education, research & practice within each theme.
The draft programme is now available here: Fusion event 14/12/11 DRAFT programme
You can register for the event and sign-up for the themes most relevant to you using the form below.
Over the last decade, but particularly in the last five years, BU has matured into a university with a strong research track record with some of the most talented researchers anywhere in the world. It is a fantastic success story and one to be justifiably proud. Take a look at the graph which shows the growth in our published output as depicted by Scopus data; it truly something! Our output has grown at a rate of over 13% compared to 3.7% for the UK as a whole.
RAE2008 was a milestone in this journey – the fourth most improved University was the well-deserved headline! There is much to shout about but we also have to think carefully about how we can continue this trajectory building on this foundation.
To do this we will need to find more income. Our research income per academic FTE remains modest at around £6.5k compared to a sector average of £50k per FTE. To grow our research base further we need to up our game. You may ask why? Well to make another step change and ensure that we are not just left in the stocks as a teaching-only university as the sector shifts in the coming years we need to grow our learning community of research students, research assistants and post-doctoral fellows which are the lifeblood of a successful research active university. To do this we will need to attract much more external research income. It is not, however, just a question of bidding more, but critically of increasing the quality of our bids and thereby our success rates.
There are many reasons why a shift to a research culture driven by societal need is important, not least of which is to give something back as a public institution to society, but it is also important to ensure our ability to bid more successfully for funds in the future. Let me use my own career as an illustration. My first passion is glacial geology and I spent much of the 1990s studying the esoteric discipline of sediment transport in Arctic glaciers. It was a fantastic period in my life in which I was perpetually scraping together funds for my next field trip and never more at home than on some frozen glacier. Money was not easy to come by because in truth there was little funding available for such work, to be blunt it has little or no societal relevance. It was not until I joined BU in 2002 that I started to reinvent my research direction working for the first time in the field of contaminated land as an environmental geologist and starting to work first in Central America and then in Africa on aspects of human evolution. During this second part of my career my success rate with Research Councils increased three-fold, as did the total amount of research income I generated. In essence I shifted from a field with little societal relevance to one with huge value. My passion for research remains but is just directed slightly differently! At the heart of this story is the fact that I was able to transfer my skills as sedimentologist – someone who studies dirt – from one discipline to another.
Within BU we have a lot of active and talented researchers some of whom are working in fields of societal importance but some whom are not, preferring to pursue their own, often narrow, research agenda. By shifting to a more societal focus for the majority of our research our ability to generate income and achieve societal impact is likely to be much greater and this is a shift that we need to make together over the next year or so. A shift which is something that is essential if we are to make BU2018 a reality.
During the last year BU has been through a process of defining societal research themes and it is worth refreshing ourselves about this journey. The initial candidate set of themes was generated from a trawl of all the priority funding areas for all major research funding bodies (Research Councils, European Commission, major charities, etc). This list was debated and refined by the BU Professoriate and subject to an all staff survey, in which candidate themes where put to the public vote. The remaining ten themes were scoped out and defined and then whittled to eight earlier this year via debate on this blog. These are the research themes on which BU has chosen to focus its societal research effort. But crucially they are still up for debate, evolution and further discussion. To this end I recently invited all staff to an event on the 14 December 2011 at which the research themes will be scoped further and networks of researchers created. If you have not signed up yet I would encourage you to do so!
To register your place at the Fusion Event on 14 December complete this form:
On the afternoon of the 14 December 2011 we will be launching the Fusion Seminar series with an event focused around launching the eight BU Research Themes. It would be great if you could hold this date within your calendars and register for the event.
January through to March the monthly Fusion Seminar series will focus on sharing research, education and professional practice within BU and will culminate in April in a one-day Fusion conference involving both staff and students when the key research themes will be centre stage. Dates for these events are:
- 18 January (1.5 hours)
- 22 February (1.5 hours)
- 21 March (1.5 hours)
- 18 April (whole day)
The event on the 14 December is the first in this programme and will focus on Fusion within the eight BU Research Themes. Following consultation these themes are now fixed as: (1) Health, Wellbeing & Aging; (2) Culture & Society; (3) Creative & Digital Economies; (4) Entrepreneurship & Economic Growth; (5) Environmental Change & Biodiversity; (6) Green Economy & Sustainability; (7) Leisure & Recreation; and (8) Technology & Design. The event will combine time for cross-BU networking within these themes, with some short keynote talks by theme champions focusing on defining the challenges in education, research & practice within each theme. We are still looking for one or more champions per theme to step forward and help shape the theme and also the event on the 14 December. Please get in touch with either myself or Julie Northam. Once we have all the speakers in place we will be back in touch with a full programme.
You can register for the event and sign-up for the themes most relevant to you using the form below. It is important to register for the themes that interest you so that we can schedule the parallel sessions accordingly to avoid clashes!
Starting later this term, the new BU Fusion Seminars aim to develop understanding within BU around the concept of Fusion, launched as part of the Vision & Values. The seminars, sponsored and led by UET, will be held monthly and aim to demonstrate examples of Fusion by highlighting instances of good practice at BU where education, research and professional practice have been successfully combined.
The series will be launched on 14 December with a cross-BU conference focusing on Fusion and Society.
The series will culminate on 18 April with a cross-BU conference focusing on Fusion in Action; this will replace the Education Enhancement Conference.
In between there will be short monthly networking events, each focusing on specific examples of Fusion.
Speakers will be nominated and invited by the University R&E Forum and the Education Enhancement Committees.
All seminars will take place in Kimmeridge House in the afternoon. Dates are listed below:
- 14 December (half day)
- 18 January (1.5 hours)
- 22 February (1.5 hours)
- 21 March (1.5 hours)
- 18 April (whole day)
Booking for the seminars will open soon and furthr information will be available via the Blog shortly.
I am delighted to share with you the news that BU’s HEIF-5 Strategy was approved by HEFCE at the end of last week securing institutional investment for Knowledge Exchange for the next four years. In broad terms this is worth around £700k per year in funding. The strategy was submitted to HEFCE back in July and set out our approach to Knowledge Exchange (formerly referred as enterprise) activity within BU. Outlined below are the key elements of our new HEIF strategy. We will be developing the concepts and ideas further within the Fusion Strategy currently being developed.
The aim of the strategy is: to support Knowledge Exchange (KE) that enhances regional/national economic growth while strengthening Bournemouth University’s (BU’s) core business of research and education. At the heart of BU’s new Vision & Values launched July 2011 is the concept of fusion, in which education, research and professional engagement create a distinctive academic proposition in which the sum is greater than the component parts. It is based on a mutual exchange of ideas with business, is grounded in our research and educational strengths and will drive both regional and national economic growth. Previously KE (enterprise) has emphasised the revenue stream rather than the inflow of information, in terms of market and commercial intelligence, which is more aligned to our core business. As a consequence KE has failed to gain widespread traction with staff and growth has been modest. As part of our new strategy we seek a step change in performance starting with a fundamental change in culture and approach linked to our new Vision & Values that will make BU one of the most trusted knowledge brokers on the south coast driving economic growth and entrepreneurship in selected economic sectors.
Previous Approach (HEIF-4) – Revenue was invested in central infrastructure around innovation & commercialisation, employer engagement, entrepreneurship, and consultancy. A feature of our investment plan was a fund to pump-prime activity across the entire academic footprint. Thirty projects were funded and while many have been successful, stimulating valuable business interaction, the lack of strategic focus prevented rapid growth. Investment returns from commercialisation have been modest. Areas of strength lie in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) around Health, Engineering and Media where bespoke products have been developed for large organisations (e.g., NHS, Airbus, BBC & MoD). Applied research and consultancy is strong, but exposed to risk being linked to a limited number of clients. Since 2007 an average of 8 Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) schemes per year have generated £640k. We need to: (1) be more focused, investing not in routine KE activity but in real innovation; (2) capitalise on existing strength in employer engagement; (3) focus on value gained rather than on income derived; (4) focus on, and expand, our key client base building lasting relationships; and (5) disinvest in commercialisation to focus on our strengths in applied research, consultancy and CPD. .
Our New Strategy – Best practice in the sector suggests that empowering academics to engage with KE directly through business consultants, minimising expenditure on central support and maximising targeted investment are keys to success. Central to the new approach is a move away from ‘enterprise’ to ‘knowledge exchange’ where the emphasis is less no longer simply on income derived but value gained from the exchange of knowledge with industry or business. The true value is the benefit to our core business of research and education. Our HEIF strategy also distinguishes ‘business as usual’ activity (low-risk) undertaken and funded in all academic Schools from ‘innovation’ (high-risk) to be funded institutionally by HEIF through targeted investment in key themes.
We will create a Business Engagement Unit to coordinate this activity and provide a one stop-portal ensuring continuity in areas of existing success and investment. We will invest in key innovation themes focused around the creation of networks and also in a modest ‘fusion fund’ to support all innovative ideas. The Fusion Fund was launched at the start of September via the BU Research Blog (Launch of the BU Fusion Fund). Outlined below are the five innovation themes to be funded this year (Year One), a further two themes will follow in subsequent years for which there will be an open call to seek the best ideas.
- Create an International Hub for Visual Film Effects (VFX) based on institutional and industry collaboration, levered from our ‘world class’ research (RAE; 2008 – 70% >3*, GPA 2.85) and our outstanding educational reputation evidenced by the 2010 NESTA report which stated that almost half of the UK VFX industry are BU Graduates. Why? Because the UK has an excellent reputation for VFX and the SW has the second largest Creative Industries sector outside London. The VFX industry is strategically important to the future of film in the UK. VFX was a significant lure for the £575 million of inward film investment in 2010 and is the fastest growing component of the industry growing revenue by 16.8% and its workforce by 16.4% (2006-08). Unlike other creative industry sectors, animation has modelled successful centres of excellence outside London. We have the opportunity to create an international hub for VFX creating jobs, driving economic growth and entrepreneurship on the South Coast while also enhancing BU’s research and education activities. How? By establishing, in collaboration with The Arts University College at Bournemouth, an international VFX Festival; offering office space for VFX firms; by building a training, production and consultancy service; and by linking with the DM Centre for Entrepreneurship.
- Host an international programme of Design Sandpits for Prosthetic/Medical Engineering using our reputation in medical devices (evidenced by EPSRC grants with industrial partners – prosthetics & strokes; RAE-2008 40% >3* GPA 2.1) to draw in researchers to work with the UK’s leading manufacturers and BU’s visiting faculty of medical practitioners to tackle key design challenges. Why? Over 25% of all prosthesis users do not use their artificial limbs due to discomfort; the lack of science in their design and fitting is the primary cause. In the UK alone there are around 60,000 below knee amputees. Simple medical devices can help stroke victims of which there are 150,000 each year in the UK with 450,000 severely disabled. The demand for effective medical devices is clear. Within our sub-region we have a number of major manufacturers of medical devices (e.g. Ossur, Otto Bock, Ohio Willow, Dorset Orthopaedics, & Blatchford) who will benefit via international exposure. How? Via sandpits which are intensive multidisciplinary forums which facilitate collaboration between academics, industry and other stakeholders undertaking analysis of pertinent issues, encouraging innovative problem solving that fosters future collaboration.
- Launch the first National Tourism Business Academy (NTBA) in collaboration with Bournemouth and Poole Tourism Management Boards, the New Forest Tourism Association, and relevant local authorities. The NTBA will accelerate tourism business growth by focusing on visitor experience, ‘state of the art’ research & development, and the creation of a knowledge exchange for all stakeholders. Why? Tourism is a key sub-region industry. Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest collectively attract 2.32 million staying and 12.9 million day visitors per annum, generating £1035 million for their local economies and employing 20,400 people. How? The NTBA will be driven by successful private businesses, informed and guided by leading international tourism academics at BU, and supported by experienced destination management professionals and private-public partnerships in an outstanding coastal resort (Bournemouth) serving as a ‘learning laboratory’. This will be achieved, first regionally and then nationally, via blended learning to support tourism businesses, professional mentoring networks, workshops to improve local business performance and building the foundations for a national tourism business resource by 2014.
- Create a Science & Technology Hub (STH) with a focus on Environmental Biotechnology, built on BU’s research excellence in Environmental Science (RAE-2008 45% >3* GPA 2.35), collaborative partnerships with businesses in the SW and by targeting EU development funds. Why? The UK’s Department of Trade and Industry estimated that 15-20% of the global environmental market in 2001 was biotech-based amounting to $250-300 billion US per year with projected ten-fold growth over the next five years. In the SW the environmental industry already contributes £220 million but growth is limited by the availability of skills and facilitates. How? Our aim is to first build a SW Science & Technology network focused on an Environmental Science & Technology Festival, providing a showcase for the SW, building capacity and networks to allow us to lever EU funding to develop a regional laboratory network for business and enhance the regional skills base to use it. For example, the SW is the only English region to qualify for convergence, competitiveness and employment funding (Operational Programme 2007-13) and the Competitiveness Programme is Priority 1, focused on knowledge transfer, with £3 million still uncommitted for projects.
- BU appointed a Chair in Entrepreneurship in 2011 with support from the entrepreneur Dominic Marrocco as part of its commitment to create a Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE) which aims to provide business development support and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem within the region. Why? Business creation and acceleration is a key objective of the Dorset LEP (See: Question Two). How? It will target sectors associated with creative and environmental industries and focus on the incubation of new ventures, the business acceleration of established firms and the creation of a community of practice, around these sectors, that fosters innovation. The Dominic Marrocco CfE will have a positive effect upon the regional eco-system, promote University/industry interaction, enhance curricular and create opportunities for applied research.
The above themes are identified as core to delivering a step change in BU’s KE performance, are identified for front loaded investment and will deliver maximum return as measured by income, regional/national economic growth, and value to our core business of research and education. We will continue to invest concurrently using BU Funds in our ‘business as usual’ activities in health, media, environmental science, market research, and business management.
Future information and news regarding the HEIF strategy will be published via the Blog.
You can access the BU Vision & Values website here: http://2018.bournemouth.ac.uk/