Northumbria University has recently made a huge commitment to supporting and increasing research. As part of that investment, I was employed as Research Funding Manager here at Northumbria just under a year ago, I have the responsibility for the Schools of Life Sciences Health, Community and Education Studies Law Built and Natural Environment There is another Research Funding Manager, David Young. And David has responsibility for the other 4 Schools. In the move to a Faculty structure, I will have responsibility for Health & Life Sciences and Business & Law. David will have responsibility for Engineering & Environment and Arts, Design & Social Sciences
What soResearch Funding Managers do???? In-depth, one-to-one pre-award support for all academic staff We provide support for academics to find funding for their research and also assist in the development of the proposal, with an eye on funder guidelines and any insights that we’ve picked up for events or meetings that we’ve been to Coordinating large scale/strategic submissions across University So where there are cross subject calls, we’d look to see where the research strengths were across the whole of the University and try and identify academics with similar interests. Not with a view of forcing people to work together but to make people aware of other bids that are potentially going in to the call. There is currently a Research Council ‘Design for Wellbeing’ call out, David has brought together groups across the University to see where there are shared interests in this Call. And also we want to make sure that we’re not putting in similar applications from Northumbria, that would reflect badly on the University if we weren’t seen by Funders as having an overview of potential bids. Research training and development activities David and I regularly contribute to the HR Central Training Programme. For example recently we ran a session on Finding Research Funding where we took people through how to set up an account and a targeted email alerts in Research Professional...and we looked at the other tools that were available to find funding for research. Scoping funding opportunities and targeting to staff or research groups David and I have been here about 9 months now, and in that time we’ve been talking to academics across the Schools to establish what research areas people are interested in, so that we can provide information on calls that are of interest and relevance to academics in the Schools. Research bid strategy development and planning at School/University level We are currently working on a Bidding Strategy for each School. Looking at where the School is now, what are their research strengths, what the research and commercial funding profile looks like for the School We are also looking to match funder priorities with the research strengths and interests in each School. The move to a Faculty structure will mean that these strategies will be amended but essentially the research interests and strengths of individuals and research groups will be the same so it isn’t a wasted exercise. Monitoring the external research funding environment and providing updates on funder policy and strategy Both David and I keep an eye on the funder landscape by using a combination of alerts from funder websites, we also report back on any Information Days and events that we attend. For example we both attended an AHRC Study Tour where we got to meet Programme Managers and we were given some insights into emerging themes, and an update on the peer review process. This was reported back through a series of posts on the Northumbria Research Support Blog. Through that blog we disseminate news and commentary which we think is of interest to the Research Community here at Northumbria. Working with Finance and others to improve management information We’re currently undertaking some work to improve the data quality in Agresso, which is the database where we store all application and award data - so that we can improve the quality of Management Information. We’re working with the Data Quality Unit here in the University to develop some business rules around the data, and to create a series of Data Quality reports which will help us to quickly capture and resolve any problem areas. We’re also looking at whether we can have some fields that are mandatory so that we have at least a minimum acceptable amount of data. Developing high quality online research support materials: blog, successful bid database, bid templates, funding guides As I’ve just mentioned… We’ve developed a research blog, which has links to resources that are useful for academics, in finding funding, there is a link to the Research Handbook, we’ll be looking in the future to making the Research Handbook an online and interactive resource. There are links from the RBS website to successful bids. We’ve developed a collection of presentations around a series of themes, for example IMPACT in the context of the REF, How to write a successful proposal, with additional guidance and advice from funders which is not necessarily found in their Guide for Applicants
It might be useful to look at the range of other funders out there that would fund research into medical and health related subject areas. There are a range of funding options out there…. UK Research Councils Other UK Government Departments Industrial Funding Charities & Trusts Academies & Societies Funding from Europe So we’ll take a brief look at each of these options…..
There are 7 Research Councils Each covering different remits but increasingly with some crossover areas. The main RC funding Medical and Health Related research would be the Medical Research Council, however that’s not to say that there wouldn’t be other opportunities for example in the Economic and Social Research Council. Research Councils fund research through a mixture Responsive Mode and Targeted Calls. At a recent presentation a representative from Research Council UK stated that over 80% of Research Council funds are distributed through responsive mode funding Responsive funding : This allows individuals and research teams to put forward research proposals in any area within the Research Council's remit without needing to fit within a particular set of priorities. Targeted funding : This enables the Research Councils to support new work within their research priorities by inviting proposals against a specific research brief and topic area. These are targeted calls for proposals where the Council has identified a particular need. The calls are announced on their websites. You can also sign up for their monthly E-Newsletters to keep yourself up to date with funding and corporate news The Research Councils fund anything from ‘blue sky’ to applied research There are a range of awards available from Collaborative to Individual Awards Research Council funding is highly Competitive but also highly Prestigious
There are Government Departments that regularly commission research. National Health Service regularly commissions research through the National Institute of Health Research. They commission and fund NHS, social care and public health research that is essential for delivering their responsibilities in public, health and personal social services. Their role is to develop the research evidence to support decision making by professionals, policy makers and patients. The calls for research from Government Departments tend to be more targeted and applied with tighter deadlines.
You may get funded by an industrial partner, either through a consultancy or through contract research. This type of funding tends to be more focused on the needs of the business, and very goal focused. The company has often identified a need and are coming to an academic institution to find a solution. There may be opportunities to work with companies such as Care Home providers or with the food and drinks industry on the benefits of certain food types or with the healthcare industry. If you do have any ideas that you think may be of interest to an industrial partner then do come and speak to our commercial team in Research & Business Services.
There is a huge range of charities out there funding research right across the disciplines. The key aim of research charities is to generate knowledge that benefits the public good. Charities provide an important independent stream of research funding which complements the objectives of the Research Councils and Government departments. There are hundreds of research funding charities covering a wide range of aims. All are regulated by charity law and are required to adhere to certain obligations and restrictions on the use of charitable funds for research, so there is a requirement to disseminate research findings....... and a prohibition on funding research for the purpose of commercial or private gain. One thing that I’ve heard is that people are often put off applying for funding from Charities because they don’t fund overheads, so we don’t appear to recover anywhere near the full economic cost of the research project.
This has been an issue in the past but the government recognised that charities sponsor high value research in universities and that research brings benefits to scientific discovery and society, but that charities cannot always meet the full costs of that research. So in 2004 the government announced the Charity Research Support Fund (CRSF), which tops up the overhead for charity funded research. Research is funded through the dual-support system where research funders, including research councils and charities, provide grants directly for specific projects and programmes of research within a university or institution. At the same time, the UK’s funding councils provide block grants to support the university or institution itself and its research infrastructure as a whole. Together these two sources of funding cover the full economic costs of the research. Part of this block grant is the Charity Research Support Fund, the charity element of the block grant is calculated yearly from details of Charity Research Income data that we submit to HEFCE annually. Qualifying charities are ones that have open competition for funds (i.e. funding is available to more than one university) and proposals are peer reviewed by independent experts. This top up funding applies to UK, EU and Overseas charities that meet the ‘open competition’ criteria.
The next group of funders are Academies & Societies and these can either be part funded by a parliamentary grant or can be funded by subscriptions. They are more independent than Research Councils and again they can cover a range of disciplines, and they fund research through a mix of fellowships, prizes and grants. British Academy is the UK’s National Academy for the Humanities & Social Sciences. They fund a range of awards and fellowships right through from Early Career Fellowship to awards for senior academics. Royal Society , this is a self-governing Fellowship of scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine.
An finally there is a huge pot of money available in Europe. Currently through the Framework 7 Programme and soon through the new Horizon 2020 programme. I could give a whole presentation on European Commission funding so I’ll just stick to some very high level observations. The Framework Programme is based around 10 themes, the main area of interest for medical and health research would be under the theme of Health, but there may be other pockets of interest within the other main themes. Framework 7 is due to end very soon. The main thrust of the programme is international cooperation, but there are also some individual awards for the mobility of researchers across Europe via Marie Curie awards. The application process can be pretty arduous but this type of funding can be extremely rewarding in establishing networks across Europe. Having Managed an FP7 Project I can say that while it is a lot of hard work, it can also be quite good fun.
In terms of how the research funding landscape looks at the moment. There is a huge emphasis on Impact and Engagement , not just because of the imminent REF but also in terms of providing value for money. So for example the Research Councils need to prove to the Government that the research that they are funding is having a real benefit to society, through health & wellbeing and through improving the UK’s competitiveness overseas. There is a trend towards longer and larger grants , with the Research Councils looking for collaboration not competition between HEIs so they’re looking for collaborative, interdisciplinary applications. Many of the funders are looking at ‘Grand Challenges’ based around themes like global health, sustainability, the environment & energy. Next to mention is ‘Demand Management’. Research Councils receive more high quality applications than they are able to support and institutions submit more applications than are likely to be funded. In the past there have been applications that have been submitted to Research Councils that have no hope of being funded and to try and relieve the pressure on their peer review panels, Research Councils are asking institutions to pre-sift applications by using an internal peer review process. So far ESRC haven’t introduced a 3 strikes and you’re out rule, but EPSRC did a while back....where individuals who were consistently rejected for funding weren’t allowed to apply back to ESPRC for a fixed period of time.
The University has made a number of tools available to you to support finding research funding. The main one is Research Professional , which is an online research funding and news database. You can set up your own profile in Research Professional and then sign up to a weekly funding alert, where every Friday you will receive an email with any new funding opportunities added which match your registered keywords. The Nugget – every week the pre-award team in the Research Support Office put together a list of funding opportunities for each School, and they publish these in the Nugget. This is a very broad brush look at the opportunities which may be of interest to Law, and really it’s best if you take some time to set up a funding search in Research Professional and set up an email alert as you can be much more focused on your research area. Leeds University manage an online database called RDInfo it’s mainly a medical and health related online database. The Research Support Office also produced the Northumbria Research Support Blog , this is where we post commentary and research news on a regular basis. You can sign up to alerts from the Research Blog.
That’s the homepage of the Northumbria Research Blog….if we follow the link and have a quick look at the blog……
Finally a few observations about what makes a good research proposal and the questions you need to ask yourself when you’re developing a proposal. You need to have an Excellent Research Question , and demonstrate how your proposed research will advance research in the field. Have you clearly articulated the question and methodology you’ll use Researcher Track Record ...is the PI track record or future potential clearly stated. Would you be better off as a Co-Applicant or in applying to an Early Career Opportunity, where track record is not so important. Have you clearly described the roles of each of the team members and how you’ll work together to manage and deliver the project. Fit to Funder Priorities . Know your funder: One of the most important things to do is to look at the potential funders website and see what their priorities are, have they got themes that would fit your proposal. In terms of Aims & Objectives: you will need to present your proposal in terms of the aims and objectives of the funder and not just your own interests.....make it clear how you will be helping the funder to meet their priorities and objectives. Consider the questions the funder will be asking : Why fund you?? Why fund this?? Why now??....make sure that you answer these questions in your proposal. Methodology . Your methodology should be clearly defined and well thought through. State why you’ve chosen a particular method ...don’t assume that anything other than routine tests or procedures are understood without providing additional details. What type of data will you be collecting and how do you intend to collect it, will it be questionnaires, face to face interviews, focus groups. Is your chosen methodology the most appropriate for the proposed research and why?? Are there any risks associated with the project and have you thought about how you can mitigate these risks. What is the impact of your research, how will you engage with your users. Funders are keen to see users engaged from the outset, and that includes in the design of the research question Remember if you get funded you will actually have to deliver what you’ve written into your proposal...so be careful what you ask for.... But if you get rejected, don’t give up . It can be frustrating but remember that not everyone has a 100% success rate. Ask for the funder for feedback and remember that it is a learning process and the more you write the better you will get. My advice would be Get connected: Try and attend conferences, seminars, information days. These are a great way of meeting both the funders and like minded people in your field and identifying future collaborators. For European Commission funding you need a minimum number of collaborators across Europe, you’re not going to meet them sitting at your desk…..you need to get out there…. And my final point is if at first you don’t succeed……don’t give up, practice makes perfect, not everyone gets funded first time, or even second or third time. Take note of reviewers comments and use them to improve your proposal
So finally, thank you for listening, hopefully I’ve given you a little flavour of the other funding opportunities that are out there, and the support that is available here at Northumbria to help you get funding for your research. I do have a copy of Matthew Norton from Age UK’s slides, so I’ll circulate them to all registered attendees. Matthew has said that he’d be happy to answer any questions that people had about the slides via email. Maybe after you’ve all had a chance to take a look at the slides, if you do have any questions, you could send them through to me and I can coordinate any questions going through to Matthew. Does anyone have any questions at this point?????, we have lots of time over lunch so if there is anything you want to ask either myself or Julie or Linda from Diabetes UK, then do just grab us over lunch. We have the Corry Room in Sports Central booked for lunch. Lunch is booked to arrive at 12.15 so we’re a bit early but please feel free to make your way along to the Corry Room. There will be an opportunity for some really informal tours of the Ellison Building labs, the Sleep Lab and also the facilities in Sport’s Central during the lunch break so if you’re interested in taking a tour of any of these facilities then just let me know once we’re along in the Corry Room and we’ll sort that out. The first presentation after lunch will start at 1.30pm…….
Support for Research @ Northumbria
Research Funding Managers Sam King David Young• Life Sciences • Design• Health, Community and • Business Education Studies • Arts and Social Sciences• Law • Computing, Engineering• Built and Natural and Information Environment Sciences
RFMs - What do we do??• In-depth, one-to-one pre-award support for academic staff• Coordinating large scale/strategic submissions across University• Research training and development activities• Scoping funding opportunities and targeting to staff or research groups• Research bid strategy development and planning at School/University level• Monitoring the external research funding environment and providing updates on funder policy and strategy• Working with Finance and others to improve management information• Developing high quality online research support materials: blog, successful bid database, bid templates, funding guides
Sources of Funding UK Research Councils Other UK Government Industrial Funding Charities & Trusts Academies & Societies Europe
Research Councils 7 Research Councils Covering different remits but with some crossover Responsive Mode and Targeted CallsFrom ‘blue sky’ to applied research Collaborative & Individual Awards Highly Competitive & Prestigious
Other UK Government For example: NHS Generally more targeted Generally more applied Generally tighter deadlines
Industrial FundingConsultancy & Contract Research Focused on the needs of the Business Need to be careful with contracts and IP issues
Charities & Trusts Huge range of fundersAcross a range of disciplinesIndependent of Government Do not fund overheads
Charity Research Support Fund • Recognises importance of charity funding • Tops up missing overhead • Covers charities from the UK, EU and overseas • ‘Open competition’
Academies & Societies For example: British Academy, Royal SocietyPart funded by parliamentary grant or subscription service More independent than Research Councils Across a range of disciplinesMix of Fellowships, Prizes and Grants
Europe Currently in Framework Programme 7 Horizon 2020 International collaboration Some awards for individuals Application process can be arduous Excellent for establishing international networks10 Themes: Health, Food, Agriculture & Biotechnology, Information &Communication Technologies, Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies,Materials & New Production Processes, Energy, Environment,including climate change, Transport, including Aeronautics, Socio-economic Sciences & the Humanities, Space, Security
Horizon 2020 smart, sustainable and inclusive economy Tackling Societal Challenges for a Better Society Building Industrial Leadership in Europe • Health, demographic change and wellbeing • Boosting job creation • Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine • Supporting innovation, increasing market uptake and maritime research & the bioeconomy • Stimulate private investment in R&I • Secure, clean and efficient energy • Strengthen participation of innovative SMEs • Smart, green and integrated transport • Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials • Inclusive, innovative and secure societies Excellence in the Science Base •Supporting world-leading scientists in blue sky research •Providing training & career development opportunities •Development of Future & Emerging Technologies (FET) •EU research infrastructuresparticipation made simpler - simpler funding rules – one project = one funding rate
Finding FundingResearch Professional:http://www.researchprofessional.com/The Nugget (Northumbria):http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/researchandconsultancy/sa/funding/nugget/RDInfo/Funding:http://www.rdfunding.org.uk/Research Support Blog (Northumbria):http://research.northumbria.ac.uk/support/
Northumbria Research Support Bloghttp://research.northumbria.ac.uk/support/
Writing a Good Research Proposal Excellent Research Question Researcher Track Record Fit to funder priorities Why fund you, why this, why now?? Clear methodology Impact & Engagement Don’t give up – practice makes perfect