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GW4 Director's Update
August 2022

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

While we have all enjoyed plenty of sunshine this summer, the record-breaking heatwave has also reignited important conversations around climate change. And as climate scientists called for urgent change to tackle the problem of global warming, we launched the UK’s first Hydrogen Ecosystem map for South West and South Wales in partnership with the Western Gateway. A successful transition to net zero is likely to increase the UK’s reliance on an electrification system, which requires the adoption of new fuels such as hydrogen. Our new vision highlights how researchers from the four GW4 universities are working alongside businesses, industries, and local authorities across the area to develop hydrogen for many of its potential uses – such as in aviation, maritime, road and rail as well production, storage and distribution. We are confident this civic-academic partnership can help to support local economic growth, skills development and a net zero innovation ecosystem. We believe this is the most comprehensive activity to date and the first tool of its kind. I’m extremely proud of our collective efforts to create this work, which speaks to the research and innovation strengths, and civic missions, of our four institutions. You can read more on this below.

In other news, we have established a small awards scheme, the GW4 Building Communities Development Awards. Researchers can apply for up to £5K to support the development and progression of GW4 collaborations. We created this funding to be flexible and agile, responding to the needs of academics seeking small pots of funding for single activities or resources. Submissions can be made at any time, so I would encourage researchers with ideas which will enhance external collaborative relationships and/or place them in a stronger position to secure further funding to apply.

On the theme of career development, I enjoyed speaking to University of Bath STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) PhD students recently about my academic adjacent career, as part of their research culture activities. Not only did I have the opportunity to talk about my career in research funding and partnership, but I was able to share my thoughts on careers outside of university academia, ways to broaden experience and skills during a PhD, and tips for writing grant and fellowship applications. I hope they found the session useful food for thought, for developing their careers during and beyond their degree.

We have a number of other exciting updates, so read on for more news, events and opportunities in this month’s newsletter.
Launch of UK’s first Hydrogen Ecosystem map for South West and South Wales
South West England and South Wales is to become the UK’s first Hydrogen Ecosystem to lead the development of low carbon energy to help reach climate change goals.

The GW4 Alliance, in partnership with Western Gateway, has unveiled a new vision for why the area is ready to turbocharge the development of a Hydrogen Ecosystem. 

This is accompanied by a brand new interactive online map which demonstrates the breadth and scale of hydrogen activity, and how this could power green and inclusive growth.

Read more.
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GW4 joins call for next Prime Minister to back research

GW4 Alliance joined business, charities, universities and academies to call on the final two Conservative party leadership candidates to show their commitment to research, development and innovation (RDI) in the UK.

Coordinated by the Royal Society, the joint statement acknowledges the current administration’s support for research investment, and urges Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to do the same, calling for them to push R&D investment to 3% of GDP in order for the UK to remain competitive on the global stage.

Read more.

New Development Awards launched to bolster collaboration

GW4 Alliance researchers can now apply for one-off awards up to £5K thanks to a new funding scheme.

The GW4 Building Communities Development Awards will support new, and advance existing, collaborations across the GW4 universities by funding single activities or resources. The small awards can be used for a variety of purposes, such as developing stakeholder relationships, seminars, community workshops, or public engagement activities.

Projects which include external partners are encouraged, although not required.

Read more.

Project to transform GW4 universities into ‘Living Labs’

The GW4 Climate Alliance is launching a six-month pilot project to establish a ‘Living Labs’ network across Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities.

The project, funded by a £50K investment from the GW4 Alliance, aims to accelerate the transition towards net zero university campuses – a process that will impact many activities including research, learning and teaching, on-site operations, and supply chains.

Read more.

Seed funding for 2022 GW4 Crucible projects tackling mental health

Seed funding has been awarded to five collaborative GW4 Crucible projects that aim to tackle the challenges of poor mental health and autistic identity.

GW4 Crucible offers future research leaders a six month leadership development programme and the opportunity to come together with their peers to consider new interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to research and its impact.

The successful applicants all stem from this year’s programme, which had the theme ‘Building Back Better: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Mental Health and Wellbeing Research’.

Read more.

Net zero projects benefit from seed funding

A citizen science project on air quality, a new workshop investigating eco-emotions among young people, and research exploring sustainable food systems have all been developed thanks to GW4 seed funding.

The three projects emerged from 2021 GW4 Crucible and the theme ‘Transitions to Net Zero in the time of Covid-19’. 

The successful interdisciplinary research groups – led by Dr Elizabeth Marks (University of Bath), Dr Pan He (Cardiff University) and Dr Jo Garrett (University of Exeter) - have been collaborating with external partners over the past 12 months.

Read more.

Register for GW4 3RS Symposium 2022

The fourth GW4 3Rs Symposium is to be held at the University of Bath and is jointly hosted by the NC3Rs (National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research).

This event, from 10am to 4pm on Wednesday 14 September 2022, is free to attend and is aimed at all those engaged in research (both animal research and those working with potential replacement technologies) as well as animal technicians.

Read more.

Team changes


This month, we said farewell to Sophie Gidley, who provided maternity cover for the GW4 Communications Manager role. Sophie has done some fantastic work to raise the profile and social media reach of GW4. We look forward to welcoming back Nichola Purdue to the role on 17 October. However, please note there will be a gap in GW4 communications support until Nichola returns. In the meantime, you can contact info@gw4.ac.uk with any communications updates or enquiries.
GW4 is a collaboration between the University of Bath, the University of Bristol, Cardiff University & the University of Exeter. 

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