MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

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

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International Research: Newton Fund Update


As readers of the Blog will be aware, UK research funding is taking on a much more international flavour, with a number of new opportunities aligned to research which will have demonstrable benefits to countries receiving official development assistance (Ed – for those of you interested, there is a list of ODA recipient countries via the OECD website here).

The Newton Fund is a key initiative in which UK funding bodies including the UK research councils, Innovate UK, British Council and academies and learned societies have partnered with funding agencies in target countries to support science and innovation partnerships. In some cases these are thematic, addressing a specific challenge area and in others they are more general capacity building activities. In all cases, the key driver is responding to the needs of the partner country and activities need to be ODA compliant (Ed – there are some helpful pointers on the Newton Fund website here, and colleagues in the Research Development Team can help you to think about whether your project ideas fit requirements).

All opportunities are published on the Newton Fund website’s funding pages, but for ease we’ve listed a selection of forthcoming deadlines below:

Opportunity Country UK Funder Deadline 
Joint UK-China Offshore Renewables Energy (ORE) China EPSRC/NERC 2 Mar 2017
Energy Demand Reduction in the Built Environment India ESRC/EPSRC 15 Mar 2017
Newton Mobility Grants Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey Royal Society 15 Mar 2017
Newton Advanced Fellowships China, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey Royal Society 23 Mar 2017
Fellowships for UK Researchers Turkey British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society 31 Mar 2017
Urban innovation in Brazil Brazil Innovate UK 3 May 2017

If you’re interested in applying for any of these opportunities then please do get in touch with the Research Development Team (

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Pre-call announcement: Developing financial systems to support sustainable economic growth in China

ESRC  The ESRC and the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) have announced that they will shortly be launching a call for research proposals focusing on developing financial systems to support sustainable growth in China.

That’s all we know for now so keep your eye on the ESRC website and we’ll share on the Blog when any more details come through.

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Our work with Manchester City Football Club

Goes from strength to strength.

Following on from two networking events last year, there’s been a lot of positive feedback from both colleagues at MMU and our counterparts at Manchester City Football Group. The latest event in December, which saw 24 Executives/Senior Managers from Manchester City Football Club and 60 MMU academics/professional service staff come together in the Manchester School of Art, was particularly well received. And, there’s certainly been a lot of discussions across all faculties, at all levels, spanning the RKE and learning and teaching agendas.

Last week saw Professor Steve Miles give a talk to colleagues at the City Football Academy on ‘Consumerism in China’. As MCFC get to grips with their Chinese investors and the new consumer base that the partnerships brings, we’ll also be running focus group with some of our Chinese national students to support the development of digital content and marketing to this complex consumer base.

If you’d like to know more about the work we are doing with Manchester City Football Group, or would like to be a part of the academic network, please get in contact with Nikki Lees on 0161 247 2151 or email:

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UK and China Low Carbon Cities Research

RCUK Energy





Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Natural Sciences Foundation of China (NSFC) are jointly funding a call for Low Carbon Cities Research

Low Carbon Cities combines research to reduce the carbon emissions of existing technologies and fundamental research into alternative energy sources and a reduction of energy demand, all with a focus on future urban environments. Such research requires a multi-disciplinary approach, combining technological expertise with an understanding of societal factors including public policy that govern uptake. Significant sub-themes include:

  • Low Carbon Transportation
  • Smart and Efficient Buildings
  • Low Carbon District Heating/Cooling

This is a call for proposals that aims to foster collaboration between UK and Chinese academics who work in the field of Low Carbon Cities. Proposal should include at least one academic from both the UK and China and should demonstrate truly collaborative working which will lead to impactful outcomes.

Remit of the call – part one (EPSRC funded)

Proposals should be focused on one of the following challenges:

1) Delivering economic and energy-efficient heating and cooling to city areas of different population densities and climates.

2) Integration of monitoring and modelling to achieve better operational performance of built assets (which includes transport and buildings infrastructure)

3) Mitigating the impact of localised climate change through built assets (which includes transport and buildings infrastructure), the urban environment and low carbon transport systems within cities

Remit of the call – part two (Newton Fund)

Proposals submitted under this strand must comply with requirements under the Newton Fund. The proposals for this part of the call must be focused on the following challenge:

4) How can we develop new built assets (which includes transport and buildings infrastructure) that allows flexibility to meet future needs in China?

Applicants must ensure that identical proposals are submitted by the closing date to both EPSRC and NSFC. A UK based lead partner and a China based lead partner should be identified.

The call closes at 16.00 on 23 April 2015. Grants of up to £800K are available from EPSRC for this call. Applicants must choose to apply for either the EPSRC funded or Newton funded streams. EPSRC expects to fund up to 4 projects. Projects may be for up to 3 years.

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China-UK Joint Laboratories

China Ministry of Education has recently launched regulations to govern the establishment and administration of international joint laboratories. The regulations will promote partnerships between Chinese institutions with top ranking overseas institutions, build up collaborative platforms for teaching and research, jointly push higher levels of scientific research, as well as ensuring the establishment and verification of International joint laboratories.

These laboratories which will be co-managed by Chinese and international higher education institutions, and will serve as an important base for developing significant original research in accordance with national demands. The laboratories will promote the development of frontier disciplines, cultivating and attracting top talent, and boosting levels of international cooperation.

The regulations list three different models for the establishment of joint laboratories: internationally co-operated joint research centre, internationally co-operated joint laboratory, and internationally co-operated joint laboratories established by Chinese provinces and ministries.

Both Chinese and international institutions are required to make practical contributions to joint laboratories, and co-operation agreements will be signed to set out the responsibilities and obligations of each partner. International partners are expected to have world-class research in relevant fields, with support from relevant laboratories, research institutes/centres, or research focused departments.

The Ministry of Education will provide sustainable and stable financial support for Joint Laboratories. The regulations will provide a practical guideline for UK universities interested in seeking in-depth collaboration with Chinese higher education institutions.

Currently the only web link for this initiative is in Chinese. This can be accessed here:

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UK-China partnerships in sustainable manufacturing








The Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) are to invest up to £3m in collaborative R&D projects that make manufacturing processes more sustainable.

The aim of this competition is to help UK businesses to trial new processes with Chinese manufacturers, and UK academics to work with academic or industrial partners in China. Proposals must be collaborative, and must include both a Chinese and a UK applicant. Project partners can include academics and research and technology organisations, as well as companies, and they can be business-led or researcher-led.

The expectation is that mainly industrial research projects will be funded, in which UK business partners will attract up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). Chinese business partners will receive up to 50% public funding for their project costs. Researcher-led projects will be funded at 80% of the full economic costs.

Projects should range in size from total costs of £500k to £800k, and they should last between 12 and 24 months.
In line with the high value manufacturing strategy, projects must address at least one of the following areas:
  • conversion to alternative renewable or more sustainable raw materials
  • better management of quality variation in raw materials
  • adding value to/increasing re-use of waste streams within/across production processes
  • innovative heat or energy management or input in production
  • changing from manufacturing in batches to continuous processes
  • novel chemical processes and reactor designs, including novel catalysis, flow chemistry or use of novel solvents or solvent-free processes
  • novel processes based on industrial biotechnology
  • improved production measurement, analysis and process control
  • lightweighting of components through novel manufacturing processes
  • net-shape or near-net-shape manufacturing processes.
This is a two-stage competition. The deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 26 March 2014. A briefing event will be held in London on 22 January 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process.

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Global Innovation Initiative: International Research Collaboration



The Global Innovation Initiative (GII) is a shared commitment of the United Kingdom and the United States to strengthen research collaboration between universities in the UK, US, and selected countries. GII will award grants to university consortia focusing on interdisciplinary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related issues of global significance that foster cutting-edge multinational research and strengthen international partnerships.  The grants are intended to bring mutual benefit to higher education institutions in the UK, US and selected countries with emerging economies through the enhancement of institutional ties and the development of multilateral relationships. 

Proposals that address the following STEM-related themes will be accepted for the first year’s competition:

  • Energy, environment and climate change
  • Agriculture, food security and water
  • Global health and wellbeing
  • Urbanisation

New or existing research partnerships comprised of at least one higher education institution in the UK, the US, and at least one selected country are invited to apply for a GII grant. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the US Department of State have identified the following emerging economies as designated countries for the first year of the GII:

  • Brazil
  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia

Institutions from these countries must be attached to either a UK or US-led proposal to be deemed eligible.

How to Apply
Two parallel grant competitions will be offered in the UK and the US.  Partnerships must identify either a UK or US-lead institution, which will be responsible for the application submission, grant reporting and fiduciary requirements. Partnerships led by a UK institution must apply through the UK competition administered by the British Council, and those led by a US institution must apply through the US competition administered by the Institute of International Education.

A higher education institution may be involved in multiple, distinct proposals but cannot submit the same proposal through both the UK and US application streams.

Further details of the call can be found here:

The deadline for applications is 16 December 2013.