UWE makes £6m strategic investment in research

Issue date: 06 October 2009

University of the West of England The University of the West of England has announced a £6m strategic investment in research over the next three years to maintain its trajectory as one of the leading and fastest growing 'new' universities for research.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve West said that, “Even in these difficult times, investing for future growth and forging partnerships are vital to enable the University to realise its full potential. Developing and sustaining a globally excellent research base in selected areas is a key priority for the University. This investment, which has been made possible by the outstanding research undertaken at UWE that was recognised by our peers in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, will underpin the next stage of our research development and will promote exciting collaborations with a wide range of organisations.”

Building on the University's success in RAE 2008*, the new Strategic Research Development Fund will 'invest in the best' by supporting groups that have demonstrated high levels of world class and internationally excellent research. It will also invest in potential by supporting emerging areas of research and new researchers with a strong emphasis on collaborative projects that will have real impact and drive knowledge exchange.

The University's Strategic Research Development Fund will invest nearly £4m in world class and internationally excellent research in biomedical and biosensing sciences;arts and digital media; sustainable transport and planning; intelligent computing and robotics; health and well-being research in appearance, long term conditions and children.

The Fund will also support the next generation of researchers through initiatives worth some £2m designed to support research training and new researchers. This will take the form of a Research Studentship scheme comprising 32 PhD bursaries and a starter grant scheme to 'pump prime' promising researchers in areas of excellence and potential.

Professor Paul Gough, recently appointed as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research, Enterprise and Knowledge Exchange) at UWE, said, “This exciting strategic investment is in addition to a core allocation we have made that will itself support a wide range of excellent research across the University. The Strategic Research Development Fund is targeted particularly as those research groups that have demonstrated that they can compete at the very highest levels, as well as those groups and individuals that show the potential to do so in future.

“Through this investment we will continue to promote research that has real impact, whether this is social, economic or cultural, and this will involve a broad array of collaborations with partners in the private, public and community sectors and at regional, national and international level.”

Examples of UWE Strategic Research Development Fund projects:

Biomedical and biosensing sciences -

Cutting edge research in the Centre for Research in Biomedicine and the Centre for Research in Analytical, Materials and Sensor Science will be supported by a £750k investment. This will boost innovative research in both basic and applied biosciences to underpin advances in the diagnosis and treatment of major diseases. Key collaborators include the University Hospitals Bristol and North Bristol NHS Trusts.

Arts and digital media -

£450k will support the newly-established Digital Cultures Research Centre. The Centre works with a range of creative industry partners, including the Watershed Media Centre, BBC and Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Bristol, to explore new forms of digital media that come about through the convergence of computing, communication and creative innovation.

Sustainable transport and planning -

UWE's internationally renowned Centre for Transport & Society aims to improve our understanding of the links between lifestyles and personal travel in the context of continuing social and technological change. An investment of £300k will support further research to better understand travel behaviour and seek to influence transport policy and policymakers.

Intelligent computing and robotics -

£250k will reinforce the success of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a collaboration with the University of Bristol, by extending its research into medical robotics. This will include working with academic partners and the Bristol Urological Institute on developing robot-assisted surgical procedures.

Health and well-being research in appearance, long term conditions and children -

A £150k Senior Research Fellowship is being supported to build collaborative links across existing areas of research excellence in appearance, child health and long-term medical conditions with UWE's Institute of Sustainability, Health and Environment. This will underpin work exploring how such research impacts on the experience of health service users and on patient care.

*Over a third of UWE research is internationally excellent (18/12/2008)

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