At the beginning of the year the University welcomed the Directors of the institution’s five new thematic areas. The Theme Directors, with the support of the research development team within Research and Innovation Services, were set the goal of developing interdisciplinary partnerships across the institution and supporting engagement with external partners. As we reach the end of the 2017-18 academic year let’s take a look back at what has been achieved so far and a look forward to what researchers in the university can expect from the themes over the coming academic year.
Themes Research and Innovation Fund 2018
In early 2018 the themes launched a call for the Themes Research and Innovation Fund 2018 (TRIF). Research teams from across the institution responded and 54 applications were received that outlined small-scale feasibility projects that were both interdisciplinary and linked to the thematic areas. Research leaders within the faculties provided feedback on the projects and Theme Directors used this to inform their decision to award support to 16 projects. The research development team have been working to support funded researchers to get the projects underway and will continue to provide support as these projects grow. The themes have also made 11 small impact accelerator awards to existing projects that are being readied as impact case studies for submission to REF 2021. In focusing on supporting collaborative projects across the institution and growing our links to stakeholders and end users by supporting impact case studies; the themes are well on their way to meeting their aim of growing interdisciplinary projects and supporting engagement with partners.
One of the most exciting developments to come from the themes initiative is the emergence of communities of researchers coming together from different parts of the institution to focus on particular challenges, for example human behavior and secure systems, health technologies, risk and resilience, and plastics. These communities have emerged from the 22 events that the themes have held for researchers across the institution in the past year. These events have brought together more than 400 researchers from Portsmouth and have been attended by representatives from a range of organisations such as Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Southern Water, the National Cyber Security Centre, companies working to develop the Whitehill and Bordon healthy living community, regional Universities such as Bournemouth and London School of Economics, as well as institutions further afield such as the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the South Asian University (SAU) in New Delhi.
Building on Activity
Over the next year the themes will be seeking to build on the areas of activity that have emerged from the this first year of supported projects and activities. The themes will work to achieve this in two main ways. First, by providing funding to support the development of both projects and people within the strategic areas that have emerged over the past year and secondly using our research development team and their knowledge and experience of the external funding environment to support alignment of emerging projects and activities to external funding calls. For the themes to move forward in the next year and beyond it is vital that they work to support the research community in finding new ways of working that are aligned to the external funding environment. This will enable research areas that emerge from the themes to have the highest chance of become self-sustaining into the future.
As the themes plans develop over the summer you can make sure that you receive the latest updates by signing up to the RIS website and make sure you are signed up to attend the University’s Research and Innovation Conference on September 6th which is themed “Growing Success through the University’s Thematic Areas”.