N8 Research Partnership

February 2018

Director's Update - More unites than divides

Hello, I am Annette Bramley and I am the new Director of the N8 Research Partnership.  I’d like to introduce myself, so that you can find out a little bit more about me and my priorities as I embark upon this exciting role.  At a time when the government has clearly thrown down a gauntlet to universities to deliver regional business growth and innovation, the onus is on the N8 Research Partnership to step up to the challenge, and the need to set aside local rivalries to be stronger together has never been more pressing. I believe more unites us than divides us.

Part of my role is clearly to build on N8 relationships with public and private sector organisations and with funders while forging new ones inside and outside of the N8 network.  We have an excellent track record of establishing multidisciplinary partnerships across sectors but now, more than ever, we need to support the development of leading-edge research programmes that support and drive the growth of the knowledge-based economy.

As I embark upon my new adventure I have Four Priorities to shape my first few months.  I want to see an N8 Research Partnership which is Participative, Positive, Pragmatic and Proactive.

Participative: For the success of the N8 it is important that I engage more people with our mission across our eight member universities.  I will be looking for opportunities for a broader range of input to N8 research priorities and programmes and will be establishing new and inclusive routes by which ideas can be generated and nurtured and I will need wide participation in these to drive the most exciting ideas forward.

Positive: The North of England has fantastic research, innovation and education assets. As Director of the N8 I want to celebrate these, however funded, to showcase the vibrant research ecosystem that we have.  I want to focus on how we can improve things here, in the belief that this will most effectively benefit our region. As Henry Ford said: “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”

Proactive: The N8 Directorate is extraordinarily lean and with huge ambition to deliver value for the research partnership.  Our small size does, however, mean that we have to work much smarter to ensure that we have a clear vision to benefit the North of England and a pipeline of ideas ready to scale into large programmes, as well as advocates and influencers to help us position these.  I will be looking to create a more “intelligent” Directorate, with access to management information and knowledge which will enable us to help spot synergies across the universities at a much earlier stage and then network people together to grow organic and authentic collaborations led by passionate leaders in their fields.

Pragmatic: My vision for the N8 Research Partnership is for one that spends more time delivering in “variable geometries” for the benefit of the partnership as a whole to help unlock the potential of the North.  Under my leadership, the N8 Directorate will be an “honest broker”, positioning strategically important research applications from N8 universities in context, even where they are competing, to maximise the success of the N8 family.

Funders want to see a mature, joined-up N8 and it’s my job to ensure that, together, we can deliver, realising greater success for N8 universities and a more prosperous North of England through research, innovation and education.

For more information please visit the N8 Research Partnership website.