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GW4 Director's Update
April 2022

Welcome to the GW4 newsletter: your regular digest of GW4 news, funding and development opportunities.

April has been a busy month with plenty of work taking place across the GW4 Accelerating to Net Zero programme. I was delighted to learn that the University of Bath will lead a new project into how the UK could increase its use of hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels, with Professor Tim Mays – Chair of the GW4 hydrogen working group – announced as one of two national UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) hydrogen research coordinators. Meanwhile, one of our key projects this month has been working with the Western Gateway, our new strategic partner, to map hydrogen activity and ambitions across our geography. We want to unleash this to decarbonise industry, heating and mobility across air, land and sea, and are set to launch a prospectus soon. Academics from across the GW4 institutions also joined the Western Gateway’s recent roundtable with regional business, government and LEPs to discuss our plans. It was fantastic to hear from attendees how critical the collective strengths and ambitions of our four universities are to supporting these aims. 

It has also been an absolute pleasure to attend a number of in-person GW4 events. At the GW4 AMR Alliance networking and bid development event, it was great to observe the formation of new interdisciplinary consortia across the universities while GW4 Crucible Lab 2 was a huge success, as evidenced in the really positive feedback we have received from Cruciblees. I especially loved my discussions with our ECRs, challenging myself to consider how we enable radical interdisciplinarity and providing the opportunity to reflect on collaborative and leadership skills.

We are now looking ahead to next month, with GW4 supporting sponsor of the CBI South West and South Wales Summer Reception on 11 May. We then have the Generator Award Showcase on 17 May, followed by the British Academy ECR Network South West Hub launch on 19 May, which I would strongly encourage all GW4 ECRs in the Humanities and Social Sciences to attend; read more on how to register below.
GW4 Generator Fund awardees announced
Projects exploring the circular economy in building construction, net zero transport systems, and antibiotic-resistance genes are among seven research communities awarded £125,000 in GW4 Alliance funding.

The GW4 Building Communities Generator Award enables both new and existing groups across the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to collaborate and address new research or societal challenges. The funding will support the research communities for six months, starting in June 2022. Read more.

We look forward to celebrating the achievements of all GW4 Generator Communities at our upcoming Generator Award Showcase, at the Watershed in Bristol. The event will feature research community presentations, a panel discussion, networking opportunities, and workshops.
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GW4 responds to UKRI EDI strategy

The research and innovation sector needs to stop discussing equality, diversity and inclusion challenges and start implementing concrete actions.

GW4 Alliance has made that one of its key messages in its response to the first UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) EDI strategy.

In a written response, GW4 outlined where it sees value in UKRI’s plans but also where improvements need to be made, such as greater clarity in the main objectives, enhancing how data is captured across the sector, and deploying funding mechanisms more effectively.

Read more.

ECRs reflect on GW4 Crucible experience

"It’s great to meet researchers not working in my direct field, so I can gain a more diverse picture of other research that’s happening."

Lab 2 of GW4 Crucible took place in Bath this week, with this year’s cohort continuing to focus on the theme ‘Building Back Better: Interdisciplinary Approaches To Mental Health And Wellbeing Research’.

Participants said the experience has been invaluable to their career, leadership skills and own wellbeing, as well as providing them with a better understanding of how to approach future funding applications.

Our Cruciblees have been speaking on camera to share their perspectives on the programme. Watch the videos published so far in our Twitter series here:

GW4 AMR experts meet face-to-face at networking event

The GW4 AMR Alliance held its first in-person networking and bid development event earlier this month.

The facilitated two-day event built on the outcomes of an online version held in January. About 70 delegates came together in Cardiff to continue collaborative discussions, develop new research ideas and potential projects, and work towards new bid applications across four cross-disciplinary themes to help prevent and control AMR using a One Health approach. 

Participants also took part in engaging World Café-style round table discussions, special focus group discussions (on diagnostics/biosensing and drug discovery) and a networking dinner.

If you would like to join or collaborate with the GW4 AMR Alliance, express your interest here.

Programme supports women in technical leadership positions 

When Amy Bland worked as a machinist in industry, she was the only female employed at her company.

Now working as a technician in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol, Amy is looking to inspire, and learn from, other women in technical roles who aspire to be leaders in their field.

She is one of seven technicians from the universities of Bath, Bristol and Cardiff to have been awarded a place on the Midlands Innovation TALENT Herschel Programme for Women in Technical Leadership – a new national programme is the first of its kind in the UK, created to address the lack of technical staff who identify as women in leadership positions across the sector. 

Read more.

New study finds autistic and non-autistic people share more in common

Findings published in advance of World Autism Day earlier this month revealed there are fundamental similarities between autistic and non-autistic people in mental processing.

The brain processes information using two systems; System 1 for quicker intuitive judgements, and System 2 for slower rational thinking. These systems are thought to work differently in autistic people, underlying the difficulties they may experience in everyday life and the workplace.

Yet a landmark study involving researchers from the University of Bath and Cardiff University – and which stems from the GW4 Neurodevelopmental Neurodiversity Network –  reports that these fundamental psychological systems are not impaired in autistic people as once thought.

Read more.

Register for BA ECR Network South West launch

Join us to meet your future research network and get funds to begin planning your collaborations.

Following the hugely successful Midlands Hub launch, the British Academy in partnership with GW4 Alliance and five South West universities are hosting the launch of the ECR Network South West Hub at the MShed in Bristol on 19 May, from 10am – 3.45pm.

Find out more about the day and book your ticket here.

ECRs who join the British Academy ECR Network can access funding to run their own events, shape what activities the network will deliver, and benefit from professional development opportunities – sign up here.

MyWorld initiative for businesses in the West of England

The Bristol and Bath MyWorld initiative has launched a £2million funding opportunity for business to advance technologies and improve audience experience in the creative sector.

Open until 1 June, businesses of all sizes from across the West of England are invited to pitch for project funding ranging from £100K - £200K in collaboration with academics and research organisations.

Read more.

GW4 PGR and ECR Careers Webinar 

Learn more about careers opportunities both within and beyond academia during a series of online panel events in May and June.

The events will draw together academics and alumni from across the four institutions, and offer attendees the opportunity to meet and network with other researchers from across GW4.

The series kicks off with Careers Beyond Academia on 5 May. Find out more and register here.

GW4WARD Collaboration Fund open to technicians 

Technical staff across the GW4 universities can still apply to the GW4WARD Collaboration Fund.

The small grants scheme offers awards up to £500 for collaborative professional development activities, such as training, job shadowing or joint workshops. 

There is no closing date – proposals can be submitted anytime, and will be assessed by the GW4 Technical Infrastructure and Knowledge Working Group during scheduled meetings. 

Read more and apply before the next panel review in June.
GW4 is a collaboration between the University of Bath, the University of Bristol, Cardiff University & the University of Exeter. 

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