MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

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

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The Minister, the Civil Servant and the Vice Chancellor

I am afraid this is not the start of a salacious tale but actually a reflection of some of the meetings I’ve been to recently.  And at each of them, I’ve been left feeling hopeful about European & International funding, whatever the Prime Minister does (or does not) say in her latest Brexit speech (2 March).  And here’s a few reasons why:

  1. European and International Research is valued at the heart of Government. 

When Sam Gyimah, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, took questions at Manchester Met last week, he emphasised the importance of research and the importance of continued participation in Horizon 2020.  He’s working with his EU counter-parts towards continued UK participation, contingent on excellence and value for money, as well as establishing research agreements with countries such as China, the USA and Israel.

  1. Research underpins multiple UK policies

But it’s not just the Minister for Universities who thinks research is important as it features in other national strategies.  Manchester Met’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research & Knowledge Exchange gave a presentation recently about the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and how it mapped on Manchester Met in terms of our location, research strength and networks.  Likewise, through the Global Challenges Research Fund, research is being linked to international development.  Research remains important to the UK, its economy and its role in the world.

  1. Work is well underway to ensure continued UK participation in EU-funded Research

At a presentation by a Civil Servant from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, it was clear that the department is carefully preparing for a range of scenarios post-Brexit.  There is quiet hope for continued UK participation in EU research projects up to the end of 2020 and detailed work happening to ensure a smooth transition as the UK leaves the EU.  There’s lobbying for continued participation in the Framework 9 programme when it launches in 2021 – and the UK’s and EU’s politicians seem genuinely aware of the importance of British Universities.

  1. Research is at the heart of what we do as a university. 

At his all-staff presentation, the Vice Chancellor talked of Manchester Met as being involved in knowledge generation, dissemination and translation.  He emphasised how our research informs our teaching and, indeed, all our work as an institution.

And there’s some really interesting international activity happening at the moment, ranging from work on historic site preservation in Myanmar to European research infrastructure development, from improving speech & language therapy in Rwanda to creating tools to help Hydrogen Education in Schools.   All these are funded by different funders and are at different stages in the research process: from early stage conception to translation & dissemination.

When closing the Question & Answer session with the Minister for Higher Education, Manchester Met’s Vice Chancellor ended by saying that it is easy to look back but we should look forward as there are many positive things happening in the sector, including in EU & International research. So keep your eyes on this blog for further updates on research policy and funding opportunities as things will continue to evolve rapidly.


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Newton Fund launches in Peru


Peru has recently become a Newton partner country with the launch of the Newton-Paulet Fund.

This government-level partnership will allow researchers from both countries to work together to promote science and innovation that contributes to economic development, improves the quality of life in Peru and strengthens ties to face future global challenges.

The Newton-Paulet Fund is named in honour of the renowned Peruvian scientist Pedro Paulet. The Fund will focus on research, innovation and capacity building in three priority areas:

  • Health, specifically malnutrition and anaemia
  • Clean water, including the impact of glacier retreat
  • Biodiversity and the unique geography of Peru.

Calls for proposals will be soon launched and promoted by Concytec via its Cienciactiva research funding initiative.

For more information, please visit the Newton Fund.

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Changes to EPSRC and NERC New Investigator Schemes


From 25 July 2017 a New Investigator Award scheme will replace the First Grant initiative. The New Investigator Award scheme will remove some of the current restrictions and will help improve the quality and ambition of research proposals submitted, recognising that different projects and new investigators have different needs.

For more information, please visit EPSRC.


The eligibility for the NERC New Investigator scheme has been amended. Applicants must now be within five years (as opposed to the previous three) of first becoming eligible for NERC funding as a Principal Investigator. This applies from January 2018.

For more information, please visit NERC.

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British Academy Moving to Flexi-Grant from August 2017


The British Academy has announced the implementation of its new Grants Management System, Flexi-Grant, which is currently being developed, and will replace the e-GAP2 system from 1 August 2017.

The main difference between the two systems is the requirement for referees to provide their references before an application can be submitted and approval given.

Flexi-Grant will go live on 1 August 2017 using a phased approach and the estimated timetable for opening calls for various schemes is listed below:

August 2017:

Mid-Career Fellowships call opens

Postdoctoral Fellowships call opens

September 2017:

BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants (Round 2017-18) call opens

Tackling the UK’s International Challenges (tbc)

GCRF: Sustainable Development Programme (tbc)

October 2017:

BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowships call opens

British Academy Rising Star Engagement Awards call opens

April 2018:

BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants (Round 2018) call opens

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Are you considering the AHRC/EPSRC ‘Next Generation Immersive Experiences’ call? Please let RKE know


There seems to be quite a bit of interest in the recently announced AHRC/EPSRC Research Partnership Development Call for the next generation of immersive experiences and it was great to see so many people attend the AHRC event in Geoffrey Manton last week.

We’ve been asked a few times about whether there is a limit on the number of bids Manchester Met can submit to this call. The answer is ‘No’ – there is no formal cap. However, we think its sensible to keep an eye on the emerging ideas and get a sense of the number of  potential applications, so, if you are thinking of a bid would you please let RKE know? Its:



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Erasmus+ : Preparing for the 31st Year of Calls


You may have seen in the press recently that the Erasmus programme was created 30 years ago and there have been lots of positive news stories about people’s participation, particularly following support for their studies in a different country.  What you may have seen less of is that the scheme, now known as Erasmus+, has funded innovative projects which have shared best practice in Education/Training across Europe and around the world.  Manchester Met is currently involved in 17 of these partnerships with a value of at least £813,214 to the institution.  Colleagues have had particular success in the following types of project:

  • Strategic Partnerships: These fund networks or new outputs created by partners WITHIN Europe.  Projects can help improve teaching, innovation, internationalisation and links with business/other organisations.  The scheme funds up to €450,000 over 3 years.


  • Capacity Building in Higher Education: These help tackle specific issues for Higher Education in Countries OUTSIDE Europe.  Projects can involve modernising curricula, governance and innovation (depending on the national/regional needs) by bringing together partners in the EU and the target country.  This funds up to €1m over 2 years.


  • Youth: Erasmus+ also funds Strategic Partnerships and Capacity Building Projects with Youth Organisations which can involve a University as a partner.  This scheme is sometimes under-subscribed.


The announcement of the 2018 deadlines won’t happen until mid-October but we’re expecting the majority of applications will need to be submitted in January, February and March next year.  There’s expected to be a lot of interest in these calls as they are the last ones before Brexit – though UK universities, including Manchester Met, are campaigning for continued participation in the scheme.  Therefore, in order to be successful, bids will need to be of an even higher quality.  Whilst waiting for the formal details to be published, there are some actions that can be undertaken over the summer:


  1. Identify Projects: Do you know of a problem which could be solved by sharing best practice at European level?  This could be a good time to develop a short project brief to share with project partners.


  1. Identify Partners: If you are meeting potential partners at conferences, events or even on the beach – sound them out to see if they have similar/complimentary interests in an application.


I can provide support by providing summaries of the schemes for partners, talking through project ideas and/or sitting in on calls/meetings with partners if useful.  I am available to discuss possible applications either face-to-face or via telephone/skype/email.


Dr Christopher Grinbergs ( / 0161 247 2819)

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NERC: Call for Ideas for Strategic Research

NERC invites researchers and those who use environmental science research to submit ideas for scientific advances that will, over time, contribute to addressing some of these major challenges of the 21st century. The ideas will be used to inform the development of new strategic research investments through either highlight topics or strategic programme areas.

Deadline for HT ideas: 16 May 2017

For more information on submitting, please visit NERC.