MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

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

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AHRC-ESRC-FCO Knowledge Exchange Fellowship Scheme

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are pleased to invite applications to the AHRC-ESRC-FCO Knowledge Exchange (KE) Fellowships scheme.

The scheme will provide the opportunity for each intake of fellows to be seconded into the FCO to work alongside, advise and influence policymakers.

The fellowship scheme will go beyond current ad hoc arrangements, create deeper engagement between academia and policy, impact on diplomacy, increase the professional reputation of participating scholars and build long term, two way relationships. The benefits will flow to the wider academic community through fellows’ engagement with their home research organisation and wider research communities as well as through a dedicated policy seminar series hosted by the FCO during the lifetime of the scheme.

Deadline for Applications: 31st October 2017

For more information, please visit the ESRC.


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AHRC – Engaging with Government Programme

The Engaging with Government programme is a three day course designed to provide an insight into the policy making process, and help participants develop the skills needed to pursue the policy implications of their research. It also aims to build links between policy makers and the most dynamic new research in the arts and humanities. The AHRC is inviting eligible researchers to submit an application to attend the course.

The programme will:

  • Encourage you to see opportunities where your own research could make a valuable contribution in a public policy context.
  • Challenge you to think in more depth about the policy process, and the role of research within it.
  • Increase the influencing and communication skills that you need to achieve this.

The programme is for early career researchers working in any area of the AHRC’s subject domain.

The closing date for applications is 5pm on Friday 7th October 2016.

For more information and to apply, please visit the AHRC.

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Using Research to Inform HE Policy and Practice

In this one day event, sponsored by the Office for Fair Access and delivered in partnership with the Society for Research into Higher Education, the Society for Research into Higher Education will highlight how early career researchers are seeking to shape HE policy and practice, whilst addressing some of the challenges that they may face in seeking to do so.

Friday 15th April 2016: 9.00-16.30

Office for Fair Access, Nicholson House, Lime Kiln Close, Bristol, BS34 8SR

For more information and to reserve a place, please visit SRHE.

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Joseph Rowntree Grants

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust invites applications for several funding opportunites.

Note: The trust will not fund academic research, with the exception of research that forms an integral part of policy and campaigning work that is central to their areas of interest.

Sustainable future programme grants

These support projects on developing and promoting sustainable, low-carbon alternatives to the current consumerist and growth-based paradigm.

The deadline for applications is 30 Nov 2015.

Rights and justice programme grants

These aim to support projects on the rights of vulnerable racial and ethnic minorities, to hold governments to account and to strengthen the hand of those advocating with and for these communities.

Peace and security programme grants

These support charitable work on issues of peace and security.

Power and accountability programme grants

These support projects that aim to create a world in which power is more equally shared, and in which powerful institutions are responsive and accountable to wider society and aligned with the long-term public interest.

The deadline for applications for the above three is 14 Dec 2015.

For more information, please visit:

For advice on applying, please contact your relevant Research Development Manager.

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AHRC: Engaging with Government

The Engaging with Government programme is a three day course which will take place 8-10 March 2016 and is designed to provide an insight into the policy making process, and help participants develop the skills needed to pursue the policy implications of their research. It also aims to build links between policy makers and the most dynamic new research in the arts and humanities. AHRC are inviting eligible researchers to submit an application to attend the course.

The deadline for applications is 27 Nov 2015.

For more information and to apply, please visit:

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BBSRC Delivery Plan 2015/16






BBSRC has just released its Delivery Plan for 2015/16. Here is a a summary of the main points contained in the plan.

BBSRC’s vision is for a thriving UK knowledge-based Bioeconomy, powered by the outstanding bioscience research base that addresses some of the most significant challenges facing society such as food security, infectious disease, sustainable energy/chemicals and how to live longer, healthier lives.

BBSRC’s high-level plans for 2015/16 will:

i. Maintain the excellence of the UK bioscience and technology research base to drive innovation and make the UK one of the best places to do bioscience research. This will be done by:

o Protecting levels of responsive funding for ‘excellent research’, balancing investigator-led ideas with focusing of research priorities to address key societal and economic needs.

o Sustaining support for strategically funded institutes and associated campuses as centres of excellence.

o Using the international strategy to enable UK researchers to collaborate with the best in the world and leverage BBSRC’s investment to boost excellence and research volume.

o Funding vital national capability in HEIs and Institutes – completing key research infrastructure projects.

ii. Ensure the supply of skilled people into the economy and public sector, meeting user needs

o Second round of Doctoral Training Partnerships with a strategic focus in the grand challenges, balanced with broad-based excellent bioscience, industrially relevant vulnerable skills and PIPs.

o Through BBSRC’s industrial training strategy, and ongoing commitment to CASE studentships, ensure BBSRC continues to fund the skills industry needs.

o Support, including mentoring, for postdocs to develop their research careers.

o Providing more informatics skills (e.g. Masters-level) through BBSRC’s industrial training schemes.

iii. Support growth in key industrial sectors and emerging technologies by funding research, skills and infrastructure supporting bio-industries. The priorities are:

o Agriculture and Food Security: BBSRC will support implementation of the agri-technology sector strategy; fund the agri-tech Catalyst with TSB; establish two new industry clubs for research in sustainable agriculture (with NERC) and microbial food safety (with FSA) and develop agri-tech campuses to support growth and new jobs. Establish with NERC an initiative for collaborative research in aquaculture.

o Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy (IBBE): this area promises enormous growth based on enhanced bio-based feedstocks, high-value and platform chemicals and bioenergy. BBSRC will grow UK research capacity and provide the skills needed. With TSB, BBSRC will support translation via an IBBE Catalyst.

o Bioscience for Health: BBSRC’s plans address the dual opportunity of reducing the economic burden of an ageing population whilst underpinning Life Science sector industries. BBSRC will increase its focus on nutrition and health across the life-course. MRC will be a key partner in the drive to develop new vaccines and novel antimicrobial agents.

o Emerging technologies: BBSRC has long recognised the importance of technologies to generate new knowledge, markets and revenue streams. BBSRC’s plans to 2015/16 prioritise emerging technologies in three areas: Agri-tech, Data-rich bioscience (‘big data’) and Synthetic Biology.

o ‘Quick wins’ for economic growth: the lead time for impact from basic research is often >10 years. BBSRC will take decisive actions to spur growth and jobs in the shorter term. Actions include more funding to the Follow-on-Fund to derive impact rapidly from existing research, and Translation Fellows alongside BBSRC’s industry clubs to accelerate translation of the research. Also ‘Sparking Impact’ institutional awards (£100K) to HEIs fund quick, flexible Knowledge Transfer activities to accelerate impact.

iv. Further development of Research and Innovation Campuses to accelerate translation of excellent bioscience and help grow new and existing companies

BBSRC’s £100M+ campus investment brings researchers and business together in the right environment to nurture new and existing companies. Campus developments include:

Edinburgh: a new incubator building; Norwich Research Park (NRP): a ‘Molecular Pharming Pilot Facility’; Aberystwyth: a ‘Plant Breeding Hotel’ and development of the ‘Pwllpeiran Upland Research Centre’ for sustainable agriculture; Rothamsted: shared lab space for industry; Pirbright: a campus / hub supporting bio-based businesses in animal and human infectious disease as part of a national and international network of high-containment microbiology facilities and a key lab supporting Defra and DH.

v. Work in partnership and seek leverage to deliver BBSRC’s strategy with greater impact

o Significant leverage opportunities through major international partnerships with priority countries such as USA, Brazil, India and China. Increased focus on EU engagement in Industrial Biotechnology and bioenergy programmes as part of the Horizon 2020 Bioeconomy theme. New research collaboration will be established between BBSRC, DFID, Defra and China on sustainable intensification of agriculture in Africa.

o Collaboration in major international programmes on wheat yield and reducing Nitrogen fertiliser use.

o Further enhance partnership working with the TSB to enable impact e.g. the new Catalysts. The main areas of interest with TSB are Agri-technology, IBBE and the Life Science sector. An extra £25M off collaborative funding with the TSB will be available to commit in 15/16 alone.

o Enhanced partnership within RCUK. BBSRC recognises particular collaborative opportunities:

NERC on ‘sustainability’ via a new industry club, joint funded research initiative on soils, and joint activities such as seminars with mutual industry partners;

MRC as a partner in ‘One health’, linking human and animal health research to gain mutual insight and benefit – joint work on next generation vaccines and new antibiotics;

Collaboration with MRC and ESRC prioritising nutrition and health – to better understand gut health, the role of the microbiome and nutrition over the life-course;

Link with the cross-Council LLHW theme to develop a biological understanding of why and how people age, with focus on maintaining health over the life-course;

Working with NERC, ESRC, EPSRC and MRC as the lead on the Global Food Security (GFS) programme – new multidisciplinary research on soils, waste and diet/nutrition;

Increased funding for the NC3Rs (£1.65M by 2015/16), which BBSRC supports with MRC to reduce animal usage in research.

The full delivery plan is available here:

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AHRC publish Delivery Plan 2015-16

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AHRC have just published their Delivery Plan 2015-2016.  All Research Councils publish Delivery Plans as a final product of  Government Spending Review. The Plans set out each Council’s funding priorities and outline the activities that they intend to undertake over a given period i.e. this is the document gives some genuine signposts  as to what is coming up over next couple of years!!!


I’ve picked out some key things:

  • Their 4 thematic programmes (Care for the Future, Digital Transformations, Science in Culture and Translating Cultures) will continue
  • They will continue leadership of Connected Communities and will launch new grants in areas such as disconnection, diversity and exclusion.
  • New, large-scale initiatives will be underway in three priority areas of design, heritage and modern languages – the latter recognising the need to develop capacity in the so-called ‘world languages’ of the emerging nations (for example Arabic, Chinese languages, Hindi and Brazilian Portuguese).
  • At an advanced stage in scoping substantial new initiatives in design and heritage, 2015-16 will see the EU Heritage Plus call with 14 participant countries which AHRC has led as part of the JPI on ‘Cultural Heritage and Global Change’. They plan collaborative initiatives in, for example, ‘Big Data’ in arts and humanities.
  • a headline initiative, the ‘AHRC Commons’, aimed at developing new relationships with the research community to stimulate partnership, public engagement and fresh thinking, will be launched late in 2014 but will operate fully from 2015-16
  • They will continue to lead HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) with a Call expected to be titled “Uses of the Past”
  • They will further develop relationships with NEA, NEH and NSF (US funders) – which might allow joint funding
  • Internationally, during 2015-16, the AHRC will prioritise co-developed work in China taking the opportunity of China’s identification of the creative economy as a new ‘pillar industry’ with incentives to grow to 5% of GDP. Design, digital and heritage will be key sectors. They will significantly develop work in China in the creative economy, heritage, design and researcher exchange in partnership with Chinese and UK HEIs and cultural organisations.
  • They will develop further location-specific activity (the creative economy is intensely ‘clustered’) in partnership with organisations such as the LEPs and NCUB, and through multi-disciplinary programmes such as Connected Communities, where research demonstrates the heightened economic and civic value to be derived from the creative sector.
  •  In 2015-16 they will scope the potential for a Big Data hub in the creative economy.
  • In 2015-16, AHRC will enhance the training provided through Doctoral Training Partnerships, Centres for Doctoral Training and Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships. They will address needs for entrepreneurial and cross-disciplinary skills identified by researchers on the ‘Brighton Fuse’. They will develop schemes similar to NGT to cover areas of  work such as design, museums and the performing arts with new partners such as the Design, Arts and relevant Skills Councils, enhancing employability. (NGT = New Generation Thinkers – a scheme with BBC)
  • They will increase collaboration with other Councils in crosscutting areas such as design (EPSRC, ESRC), heritage (EPSRC, NERC), law and modern languages (ESRC), and the digital economy (EPSRC, ESRC), where AHRC leads the joint copyright centre. They will build upon our contribution to the National Ecosystem Assessment with NERC on phase 2 of their collaborative ‘Valuing Nature’ programme. They will enhance our work with EPSRC and ESRC on ethics and rights in security contexts and the role of culture in conflict and post-conflict reconstruction under ‘Global Uncertainties’.
  • The interface of technology and arts content, the role of design and the potential of Big Data will be priorities in 2015-16, as will support of areas where science and the arts and humanities intersect such as the highly-regarded cross-Council Science and Heritage programme (led by AHRC)
  • They will reinforce the trajectory of working in partnership (British Academy, NESTA, Govt depts, HEFCE, HLF)
  • TSB – they will work with the recently established ‘Connected Digital Economy’ Catapult, and the newly re-organised Knowledge Transfer Partnership Creative Industries network, as priorities. We will build upon the commitments in the current Delivery Plan, including calls in the areas of Design, 3D printing, multi-disciplinary software design, assisted living and data exploration.

 The full document is here:

We’ll Blog links and summaries of the other Research Council Delivery Plans when available.