January 2021

Director's Update

As the clock chimed midnight on New Year’s Eve, I like everyone else was happy to raise a glass to toast the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.  For me, this was not only a new calendar year, but a significant personal milestone.  On 1st January 2021 my appointment as Director of the N8 became permanent, as I officially left the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council after 21 years and 7 months serving science and engineering, the last three of those on secondment to the N8. 

It’s a great time to be consolidating my position at the helm of N8, as this year we will be celebrating our 15th anniversary.  The N8 is the oldest and most powerful of the strategic research alliances in the UK, and we will be celebrating our many achievements as a partnership through 2021.  

2020 has been an interesting year for everyone, and we’ve been focused on developing Net Zero North, the N8-led initiative for building back better through research, innovation and skills for the green economy, for post-COVID growth and for levelling up in the North.  We’re really excited about this really novel collaboration, which brings the N8 universities, other higher education institutions, further education colleges, businesses and other stakeholders together around key themes of the sustainable hydrogen economy and managing land use for net-zero- which we call ‘Grow Smarter’. We’ll be planning more activities and events and actively looking for funding for this proposition, particularly in the lead up to COP26 this autumn. 

Because we’ve been focused on NzN, our other priority area, ‘Child of the North’ has taken a back seat over the last few months, so 2021 gives us an opportunity to reflect on the impact of Covid-19 and how we might want to take activity under this umbrella moving forward.  We’re also delighted that the N8’s new high performance computing platform, Bede, is now open for users from the N8, with capabilities that are unique in the UK. 

Finally, and to end on a super positive note, we were thrilled to see that two of four UKRI funded food systems projects were awarded to N8 AgriFood.  Many congratulations to those involved with the ‘Transformations to regenerative food systems (TReFS)’ and ‘Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people (H3) projects’, which bring a combined total of £12million of UKRI funding with them. Building collaboration and partnership is a long term investment and N8 AgriFood has delivered in spades.  We’re delighted you’re reaping the rewards of all your hard work.  (I’ll see myself out.) 

We’re looking forward to building more partnerships with you through 2021 despite the unusual situation we find ourselves in. 

Together, we can be stronger.


Net Zero North

Net Zero North

Find out more about the Net Zero North project and catch up on our first NzN webinar, in conjunction with the Peak District National Park.  You can also engage with us on Twitter and Instagram: @NetZeroNorth to get involved, and find out more about upcoming activity including our next NzN webinar on sustainable construction.

Find out More

Bede from N8 CIR

Bede is the N8’s Power and GPU-based high-performance computing (HPC) platform, which is now open to users from across the N8 universities. Each university has a research software engineer dedicated to supporting Bede and its users, so don't be put off - apply for access now!

Find out More
Newcastle University

N8 researchers UKRI funded to transform food systems

Two interdisciplinary research projects from N8 Research Partners at University of York and University of Sheffield have received funding through the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund. These five-year programmes are focused on addressing the issue of transforming food systems.

Find out More
N8 EPSRC webinar

Webinar: How to handle impact in EPSRC proposals

Join the N8 and EPSRC to find out the latest developments in EPSRC’s approach to impact and how to handle it in your funding applications.

DATE: Thursday, February 25, 2021

TIME: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM GMT

Find out More

2021: 15 years of the N8 Research Partnership

The N8 Research Partnership is the most enduringly successful of the strategic university partnerships in the UK, and in 2021 we celebrate a decade and a half of research, innovation and training excellence bringing benefits to the economy and society in the North of England and beyond.

Find out More