MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Metropolitan University

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Review of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers

Vitae are a non-profit organisation who work to support the professional development of researchers. You may have come across their Researcher Development Framework which describes the knowledge, behavior and attributes of successful researchers. You can gain access to this and further Vitae resources by registering on their website with your Manchester Met email address.

In September, I attended the 2018 Vitae Researcher Development International Conference held in the Hilton Birmingham Metropole. This conference provides a space for all those with a strategic and practical role in the development of researchers to get together and explore a variety of topics including relevant policy, innovations in researcher development, and methods of evidencing the value of researchers to society.

A key part of this conference was the publication of the recent independent Review of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. The Concordat is an agreement between research funding bodies and universities aimed to improve support for research staff career development, the implementation of which is led by Vitae. An institution’s compliance with the Concordat is demonstrated through the HR Excellence in Research Award. Manchester Met first secured the award in 2013.

The independent review of the Concordat was chaired by Professor David Bogle (pictured), Professor of Chemical Engineering and Pro-Vice-Provost of the Doctoral School at UCL. The review was completed in response to a national growth in researcher numbers, to check the Concordat was still fit for purpose and to measure its impact. Inputs to the review included a sector wide consultation and data from other sources such as the REF and Athena Swan.

The key messages from the review were as follows:

  • The Concordat is needed but requires some revisions. There have been some positive impacts, including better access to training and increased researcher representation in universities, but this is inconsistent across the sector. The scope of the Concordat needs to be expanded and language, definitions and the key set of ‘Principles and Obligations’ updated to better represent the needs of the researcher community.
  • Increased support is required for the development of researcher independence including a recommended 20% of time allocation for developing independent skills.
  • Greater ownership is required from the sector, including an increase in awareness of the Concordat.
  • A national approach to the development of researchers is required encompassing both the public and private sectors and co-ordinated with UKRI.

The full review can be found here.

Concluding messages emphasised promotion of broad career options for researchers, with a particular focus on training to innovate and thus drive change.

Response to the review presented by the Chair of the Concordat Strategy Support Group, Professor Julia Buckingham, CBE, Vice Chancellor and President of Brunel University, welcomed the findings of the review; echoing the call for sector ownership and the need to focus on researcher talent development. There will now be a sector consultation on the implementation of recommend changes to the Concordat.

The Manchester Met HR Excellence in Research Oversight Group will monitor opportunities to input into this consultation.

Picture credit: Vitae: [accessed 12/10/18]


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NIHR Funding Round-up


NIHR have multiple themed calls coming up over the next few months based around both Chronic Pain and Frailty. Below is a roundup of the opportunities available:

November Deadlines

Programme development grants – competition 23
Programme development grants for applied research – competition 28

Both of these calls have highlight notices on complex health and care needs in older people, and brain tumours. There is also a themed call on: promotion of good mental health and the prevention or treatment of ill health across the whole life course.

January Deadlines

18/153 Health Services and Delivery Research themed call: Frailty
18/154 Health Services and Delivery Research themed call: Chronic Pain

18/143/144 Health Technology Assessment themed call: Frailty (evidence synthesis/primary research)
18/145/146 Health Technology Assessment themed call: Chronic Pain (evidence synthesis/primary research)

March Deadlines

18/151 Public Health Research themed call: Frailty
18/152 Public Health Research themed call: Chronic Pain

 For more information on the calls use the links above. If you would like to apply for any of these grants then please get in touch with your Research Development Team.



Mental Health Networking Event – 31st October 2018


Professor Joy Duxbury extends a warm invite to any members of the university interested in mental health research and knowledge exchange to a Mental Health Networking Event on the 31st October, 2018. Mental health issues are complex requiring complex and multi modal approaches to both prevent and address the suffering of individuals and their families.

Given the current political agenda and the high profile nature of mental health in society, this is the perfect time to bring us all together to look at how we can work together across disciplines to explore opportunities for research and knowledge exchange.

The day will provide a platform on which to share our expertise and interests related to mental health and to explore opportunities for interdisciplinary working, funding opportunities and societal change.

If you would like to attend this event, or see more information, please see the Eventbrite link below:

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BBSRC Future Priority Areas for Funding



On 27th September the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) released a report, Forward Look for UK Bioscience, which is the first strategy update since the creation of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Forward Look identifies the backbone of BBSRC’s strategy and maps out key areas of direction for future funding, identifying three challenge-led priorities in which it believes UK research can deliver strong and sustainable impact:

  • Sustainable agriculture and food security.
  • Renewable resources and clean growth.
  • Integrates understanding of health.

It seems the theme of future funding will be focused on advancing the frontiers of bioscience discovery, tackling strategic challenges and building strong foundations.

“There is a real opportunity for BBSRC to ensure the strength of the UK biotechnology and biological research and skills base continues to be selected as partner of choice globally and to harness the power of biology to drive a more healthy, prosperous and sustainable future” – Melanie Welham, Executive Chairwoman UKRI – BBSRC

You can read more about the BBSRC Forward Look report here and take a look at the full report here.

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Royal Society Drop-in Sessions

royal society

We’re expecting a high demand for the new round of Royal Society Research Grants and so to help manage this we will be hosting 2 drop-in sessions:

Tuesday 16th October
Time: 12 – 1pm
Location: JD E424

Thursday 1st November
Time: 12 – 1pm
Location: JD E246

These sessions are a chance for you to come and ask any questions you may have about the scheme – we will not be presenting any information.

Please feel free to drop by at any point within the time slots or if you can’t make it then contact your Research Development Officer to discuss the scheme.

For more information on the scheme please read our previous post – here.

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Royal Society Research Grant

royal society

The Royal Society have announced the next round of Research grants which are now open for applications.

The scheme is for scientists at an early career stage (or returning from a career break) wanting to purchase specialised equipment and essential consumables. The scheme provides “seed corn” funding for new projects.

Award Amount: £20,000

Duration: 12 months

Closing Date: 14th November

For more information please visit the Royal Society Website or contact the Research Development Team.

**We will be holding a drop in session if you have any questions about this call – Please keep an eye on the blog for an update on the date/time/location of this session!**