MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met

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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

AHRC 2Picture1

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.

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Get the ‘Know How’ on developing winning research proposals…..

News flash                             research-professional

Hopefully you all know that the  University has a subscription to Research Professional ( the leading database of all research funding opportunities that are currently available). We have recently extended our subscription to include a new added value service called ‘Funding Insight’.  So, when you go on to the Research Professional website there’s now a whole new section providing insights, data and tips:

“Funding Insight helps universities avoid spending too much time on research funding applications that fail. It makes critical data, intelligence and know how easily available to researchers, managers and administrators. It helps you make better decisions about what to apply for. And it helps you make better applications, so more of your applications succeed”.

This resource includes:

  • Four separate disciplinary ‘hubs’, which will gather relevant information, statistics and analysis into a “one stop shop”  for your area – Bio/Medical, Engineering & Physical, Social Sciences and Arts & Humanities
  • A searchable ‘Awards’ database which provides details from the Research Councils, Wellcome and Leverhulme on previous award winners for specific schemes. This will help you to see whether a particular scheme is right for you (and allows you to see the awards your  rivals disciplinary colleagues have received!)
  • News about scheme changes, analysis of funding trends and interviews with programme managers and a focus on what the funders are after.
  • ‘Know how’ from a range of experienced investigators, officers and managers about putting together a successful bid.

Recent articles include:

“My winning proposal: RCUK Science & Security”, “How two Cambridge historians won £1m from the AHRC” ,  “How to win Marie Curie funding” and “How a statistician can help you write a winning bid”.

Most of this info is via the ‘Funding’  link at the top of the Research Professional screen, with a separate ‘Awards’ link for the database of successful projects. Have a look!

There’s also a summary brochure here:

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Want to know the AHRC’s plans & priorities? New Research Strategy is published


The Arts & Humanities Research Council have published their new Strategy for 2013-18 called “The Human World”. They say that they’ll strengthen knowledge and understanding of the human world by “focussing on excellence of achievement, extending opportunity and building capacity through partnerships”.
Over the next five years the new strategy commits the AHRC to: supporting collaborative and inter-disciplinary research, whilst maintaining its strong commitment to responsive mode and ambitious researcher-led projects; enhancing postgraduate provision; extending and increasing the opportunities for researchers to work collaboratively with a wide range of partners; maintaining the UK’s international leadership in arts and humanities research; and further explaining and evidencing the value and importance of research in the arts and humanities.
This final point is central and indicates a continued emphasis on the impact such research can have. The Strategy sets out “ways in which we can build on this extraordinary legacy and expand the way in which the people, skills and research we support interacts with public life to bring cultural, intellectual and economic benefits to the UK and to us all”.

Please see:
A short film of the AHRC’s Chief Executive, Prof Rick Rylance, introducing the new strategy is also available:

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RCUK to introduce block grants for Open Access Publishing

Research Councils UK has today, 8th November, announced the details of the block grant funding mechanism that it is introducing to aid implementation of its policy on Open Access that was announced in July and is due to come into effect in April 2013.

The block grants, which will be provided by the Research Councils from April, are to fund article processing charges (APCs). Research Councils are committed to providing funding for APCs in the long term; however, funding levels are only specified at present for an initial period of two years from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2015.There will be an interim review in 2014 to consider how the system is working and to determine the level of funding to be provided in the next Spending Review period post 2014/15.

The funding the Research Councils will allocate to supporting APCs is likely to increase in line with the expected growth in take up and the estimated total cost of APCs over this initial five year period. This also reflects the time that will be needed for researchers, institutions and publishers to transition into a Gold OA model.

In the first year (2013/14), RCUK will provide funding to enable around 45% of Research Council funded research papers to be published using Gold Open Access growing to over 50% in the second year. By the fifth year (2017/18) funding is expected to be provided to enable approximately 75% of Research Council funded research papers to be published using Gold Open Access. The remaining 25% of Research Council funded papers, it is expected will be delivered via the Green Open Access model. The same compliance expectation applies to Research Council institutes, and separate funding arrangements are being put in place to facilitate this.

Universities will receive APC publication funding in proportion to the amount of direct labour costs awarded on grants that they have received over the three years from April 2009 to March 2012. Direct labour costs have been used as a proxy of research effort leading to the generation of publications.

In order to ensure that there is administrative efficiency in the new funding mechanism for both universities and the Research Councils, a cut-off point has been set so that only institutions that are eligible for a block grant of £10, 000 or more in year-5 will receive funding. As part of the interim review in 2014 the Research Councils will look at any issues around this cut off point and, in discussion with the research community, will continue to consider whether there is the need for strategic intervention in special cases. Although not all institutions in receipt of Research Council funding will receive a block grant, the Research Councils expect that around 99% of papers arising from the research that they fund will be produced by researchers in institutions to be awarded a block grant.