Newton Fund!

newton-fundCameron announces UK–China research and innovation fund!

Prime Minister David Cameron and Premier Li Keqiang announced today that hundreds of new opportunities for research collaborations are being made possible through the new UK-China Research and Innovation Partnership Fund – known in the UK as the Newton Fund. 

Over the next five years, both countries are investing £100 million in to this fund to drive cutting edge research and innovation collaborations between the UK and China. The fund will strengthen existing knowledge partnerships between the UK and China and reaffirm the UK and China’s relationship as world leaders in science and innovation.

The British Council are working with the UK Higher Education International Unit as one of the main delivery partners for the Newton Fund. Other partners include Research Councils UK, the UK Academies, and the Technology Strategy Board.

The Newton fund is a major new investment set up to support projects that develop solutions for global challenges and promote economic development and social welfare. China is one of fifteen partner countries identified for the first year of the five year funding programme.

Our work will focus on three new programmes – the Newton PhD Programme, the Researcher Mobility programme, and a Professional Development and Engagement Programme.

Together these programmes will provide opportunities for hundreds of UK researchers to undertake exchanges with partner countries and develop long term meaningful collaborations. UK higher education institutions will have greater opportunities to engage with their international counterparts, build researcher capability and form long term research and innovation links.

Further info:

New Funding Round for International Partnerships Scheme

The British Academy is currently inviting applications for the second round of its International Partnership and Mobility Scheme, launched earlier this year, which supports the development of research partnerships between the UK and scholars in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, South Asia, and East and South East Asia.

In this round the Scheme is open to three-year and one-year partnerships between UK scholars and scholars in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, South Asia,  East Asia and South-East Asia.

Awards cover any branch of the humanities or social sciences and are intended to focus on collaborative research on a specific theme of mutual interest, rather than purely on establishing networks.

For more information on the scheme and to see if it is suitable for you please visit the British Academy website: International Partnerships and Mobility Scheme

New Calls Released by the EPSRC!

The EPSRC released three new calls for proposals on the 15th June. A brief summary of each call is below, however more information can be found using the links within each synopsis:

Cancer Research UK-EPSRC Cancer Imaging Research Centres

Closing date: 16 July 2012

Issue date: 15 June 2012

Category: Expression of interest

Related themes: EngineeringHealthcare technologiesICTPhysical sciences

Following the first multi-funder initiative to establish Cancer Imaging Centres and Programmes, Cancer ResearchUKand the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council are delighted to announce a further round of this initiative and to launch a call for expressions of interest aiming to establish comprehensive Cancer Imaging Research Centres.

The funders would like to build on phase one and further enhance cancer imaging research within theUK. More specifically, the expectation for the successful Centres is that they will integrate preclinical and clinical research to facilitate the improved detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and will be integral to their host institution’s translational research strategy. The Centres will be expected to involve multidisciplinary research, encompassing cancer research and novel engineering, information and communication technology and physical science research. The successful Centres would also be expected to work together to develop a network of excellence that would drive forward cancer imaging research in theUK.

Full details of the call are available on the Cancer imaging initiative – second call for proposals page of the Cancer ResearchUK website.

UK and India Partnership in Advanced Manufacturing Research Challenges

Closing date: 16:00 on 27 September 2012

Issue date: 15 June 2012

Category: Invitation for proposals

Related themes: EngineeringManufacturing the future


Twenty-first century manufacturing is an increasingly global endeavour, driven by the rapid pace of technological change. High-value manufacturing processes are increasingly moving towards flexible, intelligent production systems that involve the inter-play of novel technologies, advanced materials, in-line analysis and ICT, dual working of people and automated systems, and precision engineered products and systems. Vital to all industrial sectors, modern manufacturing is more than merely production – it encompasses R&D, design, prototyping, production, distribution, service and support provision, and end-of-life repair, recycle or reuse.

Manufacturing is a top priority in bothUKand Indian plans for economic growth. In 2011,Indialaunched a National Manufacturing Policy that aims to increase manufacturing activity from a current 16% GDP to 25% by 2022. This equates to a growth rate of 12 14% per year, and aims to generate 100 million new jobs. TheUK’s coalition government has also placed manufacturing at the heart of the economic recovery, and has published a series of policy announcements and reviews on the subject.

EPSRC and the Department of Science & Technology (DST) expect to commit up to £3M (Rs 23 crore) each on research programmes of up to three years in length. The funded programmes are expected to vary in size according to the demands of the proposed research, up to a maximum of £1M total, and will involve bothUKand Indian researchers. This call invites applicants to submit a proposal for funding.

The proposal will be assessed by expert postal peer review, and those that are sufficiently supported will be advanced to a funding decision panel in February 2013. Funding decisions are expected to be made in March 2013.

For more information please visit the UK and India Partnership in Advanced Manufacturing Research Challenges call page.

Next Generation Optical Microscopy Initiative

Closing date: 16:00 on 12 July 2012

Issue date: 15 June 2012

Category: Invitation for proposals

Related themes: EngineeringHealthcare technologiesICTPhysical sciences

Researchers are invited to apply for funding through a new joint Next Generation Optical Microscopy Initiative, led by the Medical Research Council (MRC), and with co-funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Pump-priming investment of up to £18 million (£15m MRC, £2m BBSRC and £1m EPSRC) is available to support 10 or more strategic and innovative partnerships for up to five years during a period of rapid expansion, improvement and establishment of new microscopy technologies.

For more information see the Next Generation Optical Microscopy Initiative page on the Medical Research Council’s website.

Call for Proposals for China-UK Programme in Global Priorities

Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) have launched a joint call to strengthen the existing research links between the UK and China. Funding will be provided to facilitate bilateral co-operation between British and Chinese research groups in the research areas of healthy ageing populations, energy and food security.

A budget of up to £200,000 is available per UK project partner and this will be matched by MoST for the Chinese research partner. It is anticipated that one to two joint projects will be funded in each of the three theme areas of healthy aging populations, energy and food security. Further information and instructions on how to apply is available here.

Since the launch of RCUK China in 2007 the two countries have developed substantial research partnerships facilitated via a number of funding instruments and involving several different agencies. This joint call aims to build on this relationship and offers further opportunities for bilateral co-operation between British and Chinese research groups. It is hoped that a feasible and sustainable cooperation mechanism can be further developed through the experience of this programme.

Full details of the call including eligibility conditions and instructions on how to apply can be found in the Call for Proposals 

The closing date for applications will be midday (1200 British Summer Time) 30 April 2012

The Future of EU Research: The Innovation Union and European Innovation Partnerships

The Innovation Union

The Innovation Union is one of the European Commission’s 7 ‘Flagship Initiatives’ launched under Europe 2020 in October 2010 as part of the EU’s new growth and jobs strategy. The initiative sets out a range of non-binding policy proposals and recommendations which will form the basis of the EU’s research and innovation activities over the medium and long term, influencing the next Research and Development Programme (FP8) from 2014-2020.

The Innovation Union was developed due to Europe’s need to boost research and innovation performance to support sustainable growth and create jobs that will withstand the pressures of globalization. It has also been designed to redress the declining share of knowledge production and imbalance in R&D investment which has put the EU in danger of falling behind countries including the US, China and Japan. Currently the EU spends 0.8% GDP less in R&D than the US and 1.5% less than Japan whilst our current rate of below 2% still falls behind our target of 3%.

The policies in the Innovation Union Plan aim to do three things: make Europe into a world-class science performer; revolutionize the way public and private sectors work together, notably through Innovation Partnerships; and remove bottlenecks – like expensive patenting, market fragmentation, slow standard setting and skill shortages – that currently prevent ideas getting quickly to market.

It builds on the work around the European Research Area (ERA) which was launched in 2000 and aimed to remove barriers to transnational R&D, programmes and policies. Under the Innovation Union a ‘European Research Area Framework’ is to be issued in 2012 with the aim to be operational by 2014 to remove the remaining obstacles to researcher mobility, support cross-border co-operation. The framework will develop common approaches to doctoral training, remove barriers to research mobility and to support cross-border co-operation for academia, SMEs and government funding agencies to ensure consistency between EU and national strategies, reinforcing the recent shift towards a focus on the grand societal challenges such as our ageing society and climate change.

European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs)

European Innovation Partnerships will act as a framework bringing together major EU activities and policies and covering the whole spectrum from research to market. They will not act a new instruments, nor have any other funding attached to them, but will bring together main actors, policies and actions at EU and national levels, from research to market, around common objectives to address major societal challenges more effectively.

The first EIP is on Healthy Ageing and will aim to increase the average number of healthy life years by 2 and reinforce sustainability and efficiency within healthcare systems. The partnership will operate through FP7/8 joint programming between national government funds, structural funds and European Investment Bank funds. It shall include governments, universities, health and social care professionals, industry (pharmaceutical/ medical biotech, ICT) and third sector organisations.

Other European Innovation Partnerships will emerge later covering the following themes:

  • Sustainable supply of raw materials for a modern society and resource efficiency;
  • Water efficiency and water security;
  • ‘Smart cities’ encompassing energy efficiency, ICT and urban transport; and
  • Resource efficiency for sustainable and productive agriculture.

The Innovation Union and future opportunities for Lincoln

The East Midlands European Office briefing on the Innovation Union emphasised the role of design in innovation and commercialisation of research processes, and highlighted this as a major interest for universities in a DMU-led and EMEO facilitated event on design in June 2010. This has been recognised by the Commission and the role that creative industries play in the innovation process has been emphasised in the Innovation Union. The Commission also highlights the role of social innovation and the role the third sector can play in facing global challenges in bringing about behavioural changes to combat issues such as climate change. The Commission proposes to launch a European Social Innovation Pilot to allow social entrepreneurs and the public and third sector to network with each other.

The focus on Grand societal challenges, reflected in the themes of the EIPS, offers the opportunity for a wide range of disciplines to be involved in future major European research programmes. The Innovation Union also provides a clear vision of where future research and innovation will be concentrated in coming years which allows us to start to prepare for future changes in European research and innovation funding.

The proposals of the Innovation Union clearly show the direction of FP8 with a clear focus on grand societal challenges with fewer but larger scale initiatives. European Innovation Partnerships will offer opportunities for public, private and third sector involvement with opportunities to engage with the Social Innovation pilot. This is an ideal opportunity to consider ways to adapt to the future EU funding landscape and to engage with new initiatives in the months ahead.

Opportunities for the East MidlandsEngage with the emerging FP8 and grand challenges agenda; New pre-commercial procurement and R&D procurement vehicles will provide opportunities for local authorities to stimulate local economies;

European Innovation Partnerships will engage a range of organisations including public, private and third sectors;

The Design label and Leadership provide tailored opportunities for East Midlands Universities to share best practice;

Engage with the Social Innovation Pilot and research programme on public sector and social innovation.

The European Commission is currently seeking the views on the new European Innovation Partnerships, EIP, as well as how Europe could scale up innovation to meet the challenges of the ageing population in Europe. The deadline to participate in the consultation is 28th January 2011. More details can be found on the Commission website.