May 2019

Director's Update

In the last N8 newsletter I wrote about the importance of doing the literal groundwork for successful collaboration. I’m delighted to say that the fruits of our labours have started to pay off with the award of a £1.25m grant from EPSRC for a Network+ in the Decarbonisation of Transport (DecarboN8).  This is a three-year grant and will be held by the University of Leeds on behalf of N8 partners with co-investigators at all of the other N8 universities.

It’s especially pleasing to me that the idea for DecarboN8 was generated at our first N8 Advocates meeting, held in May 2018 in Leeds, and my team worked closely with academic lead Professor Greg Marsden over the subsequent months to nurture this idea to fruition.  We will be holding a second Advocates meeting in November 2019 in York, and I am already excited about the new collaborative ideas that could emerge.
We would also like to congratulate colleagues at the University of Liverpool for the successful ever award from the Research England Development Fund. Prosper: Enhancing first-time postdoctoral career development and success will develop researchers with the broader capabilities, attributes and mindset needed to thrive in multiple careers.  The project also involves the Universities of Manchester and Lancaster, with later roll-out across the N8.

This aligns to and complements the work that the N8 PDR workstream has undertaken to date and positions the N8 in a leadership role in changing the culture and the environment around the career development of researchers.  Universities’ Minister, Chris Skidmore, underlined its importance in a recent speech: “…with more researchers needed in the future to power our national R&D ambitions, now is the time to increase our support…and to look again at how we can ensure they have a healthy and attractive working environment in which all researchers can flourish.”

I’ve had a busy couple of months representing the N8 at round-tables; with Chris Skidmore, with UKRI and Sir John Kingman on the issue of Place; and with the Guardian discussing the role of Universities in supporting neglected areas in the North of England.  Nick Goldspink and Steve Parkinson, our Research Partnership Managers, have been doing excellent work with our funded programmes and in starting to scope further our new priorities: Child of the North and Clean and Productive Businesses.  The autumn will be an exciting time as we will be bringing people together to explore the opportunities for collaborative working in these areas, so watch this space.

As always, you can keep up to date with the N8 research partnership on Twitter and with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.  Do connect with us.

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