MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

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


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Wellcome to Review how Science is Funded

The Wellcome Trust has announced that it will be reviewing the way in which it supports science.

Wellcome’s mission is improve health for everyone. A large way in which this is achieved is through their support of science (£630 million a year) through various schemes. The way in which science is supported has varied very little over the decades of funding and Director of Science, Jim Smith, has decided it’s time to change this. With £1 billion earmarked by Wellcome for science, innovation and culture each year for the next five years any changes could have a major impact. 

The review will focus on the following questions:

  • What disciplines and areas of science should Wellcome support?
  • What career stages should Wellcome focus on?
  • Where should Wellcome fund?
  • With whom should Wellcome partner?

The review is expected to take a year to complete with any major changes to be introduced from October 2021

You can read more about the review on the Wellcome Website and on Research Professional

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Good News for Social Care Research

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has announced that it will be allocating £20 million to social care research and training of researchers working in the field over the next 5 years, boosting research to improve adult social care across the country.

NIHR have said the money will allow it’s partners (which includes the University of Manchester and University of Birmingham amongst others) to carry out research into mental health, dementia and care homes – so now is a good opportunity to get networking!

£1.8 million of the fund will be dedicated to training researchers through the new NIHR Academy which was created last month.

The NIHR’s School for Social Care Research will be opening the call for proposals in Summer 2019.  

 

For further information please visit Research Professional or the NIHR website.


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Erasmus+ 2019 Deadlines

The deadlines and procedures for the 2019 Erasmus+ projects has been announced by the British Council and the European Commission; a summary of the deadlines can be found here.  This post outlines the support available at Manchester Met and some of the key aspects of the 2019 calls.

Support at Manchester Met

Support is available from the Research & Knowledge Exchange Office to help prepare applications to the project-based schemes including assessing the strategic fit with the scheme, supporting the development of the application including the budget and ensuring the bid is signed off.  To help this process, please note the following dates:

All projects:

  • 30 November 2018: Please notify euro_res@mmu.ac.uk of your interest in applying so we can discuss the support available.

If Manchester Met is leading a project:

  • 1 month before the deadline: Peer Review should have started.
  • 10 days before the deadline: Signed partner mandates received, WorkTribe Approval started. RKE will then facilitate signature on the bid & mandates ahead of the funder’s deadline.

If Manchester Met is a partner on a project:

  • 10 days before the deadline: WorkTribe Approval started. RKE will then facilitate signature on the bid & mandates ahead of the funder’s deadline.  If the coordinator requires the mandate sooner, approval should start 10 days ahead of their deadline to allow time for approval & signature.

For some of the key schemes, here are the key dates:

  Peer Review Deadline  Man Met Internal Approval Funder Deadline (11am UK time)
Capacity Building (Higher Education) 7 January 2019

 

24 January 2019 7 February 2019
Knowledge Alliances 28 January 2019 13 February 2019 28 February 2019
Strategic Partnerships (Higher Education) 18 February 2019 6 March 2019 21 March 2019

NB For all mobility related inquiries please contact Natalie Cunningham in the International Office (N.Cunningham@mmu.ac.uk). 

Key Changes to the 2019 Call

This is the 6th set of calls under the scheme which is due to end at the end of 2020 and therefore there are only minimal changes to the scheme.  However, some of the changes include:

  • Applications for most schemes will be managed via an online portal. Full details are emerging but support will be available both from the British Council and Manchester Met staff in due course.
  • The UK’s budget has increased though there is a particular drive to make sure funds are used by schools and other non-Higher Education institutions.
  • There are specialist funds for partnerships with Japan and additional funds for Serbia as a new Programme Country.
  • A pilot scheme to help create pan-European alliances with joint strategy, management structures and activities run by 5-8 universities. These require a significant strategic fit at institutional level.
  • The British Council has previously emphasised the following themes for 2019: (1) Tackling skills gaps and mismatches; (2) Promoting and rewarding excellence in teaching and skills development; and (3) Promoting more flexible and innovative learning.

As explained in this blog post: the UK remains eligible and – subject to the UK securing an exit deal – UK Higher Education Institutions will be able to participate throughout the scheme’s life.

To discuss any of the above, please contact euro_res@mmu.ac.uk

 

 


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Further clarification from BEIS on future participation in Horizon 2020

Following our round-up last week of messages we’ve been hearing , there is some more news to report in relation to our involvement in EU funded programmes.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has just published a document on the current and future aspirations for UK’s participation in Horizon 2020. As you might expect our colleagues at UKRO have had close involvement in the preparation of the document and you can read their analysis here (Ed – you’ll need to be logged in/register to get access).

Picking up on elements of Theresa May’s speech on 2 March 2018, the document strikes a positive tone for the short term. It reiterates the intention that the UK will continue to participate in Horizon 2020 and other programmes covered by the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020, and makes clear reference to the value placed on Horizon 2020. It also reaffirms the UK Government’s continued commitment to underwriting involvement in Horizon 2020, irrespective of the outcome of negotiations.

With respect to Framework Programme 9, the tone is a little more circumspect, with the document observing: ‘It is too early to speculate on whether the UK will seek to Associate to Framework 9’.

For a more in-depth analysis look out for an update next week!

 

 


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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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Brexit Update: Facts & Unknowns about RKE

It’s now 15 months since the UK’s referendum on EU membership and 6 months since the formal process of leaving started.  And here in RKE we’ve been keeping an eye on what this means for Research and Project funding at Manchester Met – including after the Prime Minister’s recent speech in Florence.  Indeed, some of us have been accused of being a bit of a geek about these things.  But amongst all the hot air and political manoeuvres, there are a few things we know for certain and a few things we know we don’t know (to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld):

FACT: MMU and UK Higher Education generally continue to work collaboratively with Europe

Since the referendum MMU has submitted 61 bids to EU funding schemes with over 300 European organisations.  Our academics and colleagues find working with international partners exciting, rewarding and at the heart of much good research.  MMU’s success rate has seen no change since the referendum and we’ve had some exciting successes over the last few months.

We’re in contact with colleagues at other UK institutions who are saying the same thing.  We’re also working with Universities UK International (UUKi), the UK Research Office in Brussels (UKRO), the British Council and anyone else who will listen to make sure the sector’s voice is heard during the negotiations through reports such as UUKi’s priorities post-exit and the #weareinternational twitter campaign.

AND FACT: We think Government’s listening – and want us to keep working globally, including with the EU

The Prime Minister included research in her recent speech in Florence as well as her earlier Lancaster House speech as a key issue for the negotiations.  And last month the UK government issued a Future Partnership Paper on Science & Innovation Collaboration emphasising research as part of any future relationship with the EU.  Higher Education is on the Brexit agenda and seen as part of the “offer” the UK is making for its future relationship with the EU.

The UK government is also emphasising its global research links: it recently announced new international fellowships with the Rutherford Fund.  The money for its Global Research Challenges is ramping up and look at the recent posts on this blog for international (largely non-EU) research funding from the British Academy, AHRC, ESRC, Newton Fund, HERA etc.  Elsewhere, the British Council’s 2017-20 Corporate Plan emphasises global mobility – and there’s talk of a worldwide scheme to replicate elements of Erasmus+ beyond the EU.  The funding landscape will look different but indications are that it will (continue to) be globally focussed.

FACT: The UK’s relationship with the EU will change on 29 March 2019

It’s worth restating this one, though: Because the UK has formally announced that the country is leaving the EU, then the nature of its relationship with the union will change.  There are various models out there – at the moment we don’t know which one we will end up with and it’s beyond the wisdom of this blog to make any predictions.  But, also, it’s worth remembering that NO-ONE knows – a lot of the so-called facts the media report are actually political posturing and people trying to sound wise.

In her Florence speech, the Prime Minister emphasised a desire for a transition deal lasting to the end of the current EU budget (2021) so changes are likely to be minimal at first.  And if the UK is committed to fulfilling its financial commitments for two years post-Brexit, then it is more likely we will remain part of research funding schemes until that date, too.

BUT FACT: Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ are up for review anyway

The European Commission has been reviewing both Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ ahead of revised research and mobility programmes expected by 1 January 2021.  Manchester Met has contributed to these and we’re hearing that these schemes will look to make further links between EU Higher Education and institutions outside the union to help tackle global issues and priorities.  That said, we’re not expecting massive changes to the funding but given the timing of the reviews, it’s hard to believe the UK’s future involvement with the scheme is not also being discussed.

SO FACT: There is no reason to stop bidding

The UK remains eligible for European funding.  The UK Treasury has issued a note to say that they will underwrite successful projects, even if they continue beyond our exit from the EU.  It’s not quite clear on when this underwrite covers until but we’re confident it covers projects for AT LEAST the next year.

UNKNOWN: What access we will have to EU funds beyond 2019

This is all tied in with the nature of both the “exit” deal and the “future relationship” deal – despite the above, the campaigning that the University sector is undertaking and reports in the media, we don’t know what the future EU funding landscape will look like.

It’s also worth remembering that just as the UK is working out what its relationship is with the EU will be like post 2019, the EU is discussing what its future as 27 nation states will be like without one of its biggest contributors of finance (and headaches!).  The EU could look very different in a few year’s tie and not just because the UK has left.

UNKNOWN: When we will know more

The first phase of the talks are covering the UK’s financial liabilities, the Irish border and rights of EU/UK nationals, and are due to run until at least October.  Negotiations MIGHT then turn to the future relationship; trade and the Customs Union will probably take precedence but we know that Research & Science are also seen as important.  Therefore, there may not be much news until spring 2019 and nothing certain until late 2019 when a deal (whether transitional or final, it’s unclear) will be put to national Parliaments.

FINAL FACT: MMU’s European Funding and Research Development Managers are on hand We’re here to provide advice and support across a range of funders.  We’ll update this blog if and when we know more.


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British Academy Moving to Flexi-Grant from August 2017

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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