GW4 Director's Update
June 2022

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

This month, I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit a number of flagship facilities across the GW4 institutions, seeing first-hand how collaboration is being catalysed between researchers and industry to support the transition to a net zero world. My first port of call was an afternoon spent discussing hydrogen at the National Composites Centre, of which the University of Bristol is a host organisation, which is developing new technologies for the design and rapid manufacture of high-quality, sustainable composite products. Later that day, I was shown around the University of Bath facility IAAPS, which has moved next door to the NCC into a new, cutting-edge facility at Bristol and Bath Science Park. IAAPS is a global centre of excellence, delivering transformational research and innovation into cleaner, smarter advanced propulsion systems. Finally, I had the chance to visit the Centre of Future Clean Mobility at the University of Exeter, which specialises in developing new hybrid and electric powertrain technology for cleaner mobility of humans and goods. Net Zero is a priority research programme for the GW4 Alliance and I was highly impressed at how our researchers at these facilities are leading the response to this global challenge and working in partnership with a huge breadth of businesses.

On a separate note, I was delighted to be invited as a panellist at the ‘Insider Breakfast: The Future Shape of South West Business’ event on 22 June. The session was a chance for attendees to hear from business and economic leaders about areas of growth and opportunity in the region - such as low carbon and renewable energy, cybersecurity, quantum technologies and the creative industries. It was a brilliant opportunity to showcase how we are supporting the transition to a green economy with our work in net zero and hydrogen, working closely in partnership with the Western Gateway. The session felt like a really natural, interesting and diverse conversation which seemed well received by participants.

Find out more about our current news, events and opportunities in this month’s newsletter.
New South West Hub for ECRs officially launches
New connections, new conversations and new collaborations got underway at the recent launch of the British Academy ECR Network South West Hub.

Over 60 ECRs from across the region came together with Fellows of the British Academy (FBA), consortium partners, GW4 and British Academy (BA) teams, and invited guests at the official launch of the network, which is open all humanities and social sciences early career researchers, providing opportunities for skills development and networking.

ECRs who attended the event at the M Shed in Bristol said they valued the chance to network in person and meet new colleagues. 

Read more.
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GW4 responds to UKRI New Deal consultation

Postgraduate students (PGRs) must be placed “at the forefront of the drive” to make the UK a global science superpower, the GW4 Alliance has said.

In a written response to the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) consultation on The New Deal for Postgraduate Researchers (“The New Deal”), GW4 cautioned that improvements need to be applicable to all PGRs regardless of funding if the UK Government is to achieve its target of 2.4% GDP spend on research and development. 

The New Deal is a long-term piece of work that aims to improve the experience and quality of PGR training in the UK over the coming years.

Read more.

Making sense of COVID-19 through HASS research

As part of the work of the GW4 Deans of HASS, Professor Havi Carel (University of Bristol), Kathryn Body (University of Bristol), Professor Claire Gorrara (Cardiff University), and Professor Pascale Aebischer (University of Exeter) have penned a GW4 Opinion article on how the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences are responding to Covid-19.

They highlight the many ways GW4 research communities are leading and supporting others (and themselves) to build back better, or differently, from the pandemic by taking a look at a funder, project and institutional response. 

Read more

Ideas take off at aviation workshop 

There was a packed agenda and a full room for the recent GW4 Alliance Net Zero Aviation workshop.

Industry and academia came together at the University of Bristol on 10 June to discuss the industrial challenges and opportunities to reach net zero, with speakers from the Department for Transport, Bristol Airport, easyJet, Airbus, ZeroAvia and GKN Aerospace. Thank you to all those who participated and shared their knowledge.

Find out more about the GW4 Accelerating to Net Zero programme here

Net Zero Innovation Board appointment

Congratulations to Professor Philip Taylor, GW4 Board Member and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Bristol, on being appointed an independent member of the UK Government's Net Zero Innovation Board.

The Board, chaired by Sir Patrick Vallance, provides strategic oversight of government funding of net zero innovation programmes. 

Read more.

Scientists as plant doctors 

A team of biology PhD students from the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership attended the Festival of Nature in Bristol earlier this month to teach everyone about pests, plants and parasites.

Their stall of activities highlighted how researchers in the South West are protecting food across the region. The students also penned a series of blogs to showcase their work.

Read how scientists work as plant protectors to save our crops here, and how scientists have to act as plant doctors here.

GW4 team changes

This month we say farewell to James Wilson, GW4 Coordinator for Research and Innovation. James has taken up a new position with the Research and Enterprise Development (RED) at the University of Bristol and we wish him the best of luck in his new role. 
GW4 is a collaboration between the University of Bath, the University of Bristol, Cardiff University & the University of Exeter. 

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