Research, Business and Innovation

First Horizon 2020 Work Programme Launched

Posted by Shaun Jordan | 4 Comments
12Dec2013

    

Horizon 2020, the new seven year EU funding initiative, launched its first Work Programme yesterday (though officially it will to start on the 1st January 2014).

With a budget of more than €70 billion, the scheme reflects the EU’s belief that excellent research and innovation directly contributes to a healthy economy and innovative workforce.

Following on from the Framework Programme 7, it will deliver a suite of initiatives that fund research and innovation activity that addresses societal issues while engaging heavily with industry.

Horizon 2020 is split into three distinct areas:


The European Commission has also launched a new website called the Participant Portal. This platform is the first of its kind to allow visitors to search and for apply for funding calls on the same site.

It hosts a range of additional information, such as application templates and examples of financial documentation, as well as the facility to register for personally tailored email alerts.




The Horizon 2020 Participant Portal "hosts a range of additional information"


Neil Phillips (neil.phillips@uwe.ac.uk) and Philippa Shelton (Philippa.shelton@uwe.ac.uk) are UWE Bristol's EU funding specialists and are able to support both the University's academics and external organisations with EU bidding activities.

If you are interested in finding out more about Horizon 2020, or similar funding sources, please don't hesitate to contact them.  The first calls under the programme can be viewed on these pages: http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/newsroom/548/

'Future Bristol' - Visions of a Low Carbon City

Posted by Shaun Jordan | 0 Comments
09Dec2013

Dr Rose Bailey, Research Fellow in Carbon Management, UWE Bristol

Rose is a researcher and consultant with the Air Quality Management Resource Centre and thInstitute of Sustainability, Health and Environment. She also works with the Environmental Technologies iNet.

She has helped a number of businesses improve their carbon management and maintains an interest in climate change communication and public engagement.


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Urban areas have become a place of growing focus in the mitigation of climate change, and cities all over the world are increasingly engaging and acting where nations are failing to.

As complex systems and places of concentrated consumption, urban areas are acknowledged to have a major environmental responsibility, with their low carbon potential and ‘win-wins’ for the environment and society increasingly recognised.

However, in reality it appears that, despite good intentions, a gap between rhetoric and action persists. I believe we need to think differently about how we approach the problem.

Five and a half years ago I began an EPSRC funded PhD at UWE Bristol with the aim of exploring “low carbon futures for the Bristol region”.

I swiftly realised that there was limited understanding of the role of cities in transitioning to a low carbon future (what a future low carbon city looks like; how current activities are really contributing to long term goals; and whether sufficient progress is really being made).



Bristol - a place of "growing focus in the mitigation of climate change"

The second thing I came to realise, less swiftly, was that tackling this subject was more complex than crunching numbers on insulated lofts and vehicle miles. 

We are often quick to set targets and aspirations for a low carbon future but in reality rarely have a shared understanding of what this means or how to achieve it, which can hamper real progress.

Research on this subject can therefore make an interesting and novel contribution, helping us take a step back from the ‘here and now’ and looking instead at what we actually think we are working towards.

Rather than thinking in incremental change, peak-years and reduction rates, I started with the Bristol of the future, exploring perceptions and reactions to the concept of ‘a low carbon city’ by different stakeholders. 

The aim was to generate a shared vision of what we are working towards – what an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 looks like – and to improve the way we make decisions about the future by overcoming one of the biggest problems faced by climate policy: long time-scales.

Two scenarios emerged, broadly emphasising ‘global connectivity, economic growth, and technology’ (or ‘low carbon business as usual’), and ‘relocalisation, self-sufficiency, and resilience’. 



The Future Bristol website presents two potential scenarios

Many of my findings were about the approach itself and the interactions and thought processes of the individuals involved.  The group struggled to imagine a future very different from scenarios we commonly see, and they failed to identify actions beyond the 2030s.

There were also distinct patterns in the responses of people from different sectors, who clustered around themes such as globalisation and economic growth (businesses), localisation and decentralisation (local authorities), and behaviour change (third sector). 

What my research highlighted most of all was the need for a dialogue around what we mean when we talk about ‘low carbon’. It highlighted the differing agendas and interpretations present in different groups, and the need for wider engagement in policy making.

Scenario methods do not create blueprints for the future but, through this iterative approach, opinions of a varied group are accumulated, appraised and integrated leading to a more consensual and robust outcome.

This outcome has been incredibly useful for engagement and mobilisation around making Bristol a low carbon city. We talk of ‘shared visions’, but rarely do we set up an inclusive and engaging process for deciding what this is. I went on to develop, thanks to an IES John Rose Award, a project called ‘Future Bristol’.

Its launch coincided with the city’s successful bid to be European Green Capital for 2015, and aimed to use these shared visions to start a public dialogue around the kind of low carbon future we would like to achieve.



Bristol has been awarded European Green Capital status for 2015

In doing this I have tried to employ some of the lessons I have learned along the way about the need to ‘think differently’ on climate change:

1. Get back to the ‘bigger picture’: what do we really want to achieve? By being clear about our end goal – a low carbon city, sustainable business, low impact activity – we can then work out how to achieve it.

2. Appreciate that not everyone has the same ‘bigger picture’. Everyone’s ‘vision’ is different and their motivations vary. Effective policy and strategy involves taking account of differing viewpoints and integrating priorities.

3. Avoid the ‘doom and gloom’ and get the marketing right. We know the Arctic is melting, fuel prices are rising and the weather is dreadful but, if we want to motivate people to make a change, we need to make it desirable.

Carrots and sticks are important, but real change requires a fundamental shift in our thinking and being. I believe that requires belief that it is ‘better’ – be that ‘cooler’, cheaper, more comfortable, more convenient… And I don’t believe preaching works either. 

Projects such as Future Bristol are helping to achieve this. It's big picture stuff - two of them in fact. It presents options and choices that are neither right or wrong, but have been gathered from a range of different people and sources and integrated into two possibilities (and there are many others in between). It is also eye-catching and engaging, fun and interactive - and, importantly, it is positive.

Both scenarios show the city as a successful, happy, and aspirational place, without making people feel guilty for not riding a bike. 

To find out more, visit www.futurebristol.co.uk.

Horizon 2020 workshop boosts EU bidding at UWE

Posted by Shaun Jordan | 1 comment
29Nov2013

Dr Neil Phillips, Senior Research and Business Development Manager

UWE Bristol’s Research, Business and Innovation (RBI) team recently hosted a workshop to promote and support bidding under the European Commission’s new €70 billion funding programme, Horizon 2020.


More than sixty of the University’s researchers attended the event, led by Eevi Laukkanen from the UK Research Office (UKRO) – the Brussels-based arm of Research Councils UK.

Eevi provided delegates with a wealth of advice and guidance on applying under Horizon 2020 and gave bespoke assistance through a series of one-to-one sessions.

Dr Neil Phillips (RBI) provided additional guidance on using the Commission’s new Participant Portal.  An overview of specific EU schemes and tips on how to prepare a good application under the Marie Curie Actions programme were also part of the agenda. 

There was a particularly lively discussion that included personal experiences of collaboration with partners at an international level - a key theme of the Horizon 2020 initiative.


Eevi Laukkanen from the UK Research Office (UKRO)

UKRO provides UWE Bristol with invaluable information about all areas of Commission funding, as well as networking opportunities at the various information sharing events it hosts across the UK.

Anyone can access useful UKRO resources, such as its monthly EU policy and research magazine, by visiting the website.

Individuals linked to organisations with an UKRO subscription can obtain additional information and sign-up for tailor-made emails on particular funding areas. UWE Bristol staff, for example, can log-in using their UWE email address.

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If your business is interested in finding out more about the schemes mentioned above, or about European funding in general, UWE Bristol’s EU specialists are always happy to help.

Similarly, if you are an academic looking for expert support with a bid submission, these individuals are your first port of call.

For an informal discussion, please email Neil Phillips or Philippa Shelton, or call them on 0117 32 83306.

Dawn of a New European Funding Horizon...

Posted by Shaun Jordan | 0 Comments
18Nov2013

Philippa Shelton, Senior Research and Business Development Manager

Following Iain Gray’s post about the importance of networking and collaboration, UWE Bristol’s Philippa Shelton provides an overview the much awaited Horizon 2020 scheme – a new €70 billion EU funding programme with these themes very much at its heart.

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As the Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board noted in his previous contribution to this blog, networking can often lead to innovative and impactful collaborations.

This struck a chord with me, as partnerships – between businesses and academics, as well as different countries - are essential to securing European Union funding, something that is particularly topical as we prepare for the imminent launch of Horizon 2020.

With its €70 billion budget, this new funding programme reflects the European Union’s commitment to fostering excellent research, encouraging a healthy economy and building an innovative workforce.

Following on from the Framework 7 scheme, it will fund activity relating to the investigation of societal issues and, importantly, will place heavy emphasis on collaboration with industry.

Split into three separate areas - Excellent Science, Competitive Industries and Tackling Societal Challenges – Horizon 2020 will enable business to “deliver high levels of employment and productivity” and to contribute to a “smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe”.

It will also aim to secure Europe’s position as a research leader, assuring the development of world class research professionals and, in line with Iain Gray’s remarks, facilitating collaborations between the private sector and research institutions that enable academics to create real, applied value.

The main objectives of Horizon 2020 are: 

  • To tackle societal challenges by bridging the gap between research and the market, helping businesses to develop technological innovations into commercially viable products. 

  • To provide a boost to top-level researchers, strengthening Europe’s position at the forefront of science and innovation.

  • To address major concerns shared by all Europeans, including climate change, developing sustainable transport, making renewable energy more affordable, ensuring food security and coping with the challenge of an ageing population.

International collaboration will be a ‘cross-cutting’ priority, with Horizon 2020 encouraging multi-country participation and focusing on regional targets that align with strategic EU priorities. 

The programme will also be complemented by measures aimed at further developing the ‘European Research Area’. These are intended to break down barriers, creating a single market for knowledge, research and innovation.

The new Erasmus+ scheme, for example, will bring together a number of projects previously supported individually and will deliver training, skills development and knowledge to schools, higher education institutions and vocational training centres.

Similar initiatives have proved popular in the past with those who wish to share best practice across European countries.  Additional schemes, such as Creative Europe, will be delivered by government departments, along with EU Tenders (or contracts).

As Iain stated, “networking and collaboration are fundamental components of success”.  My colleagues and I are looking forward to the positive impact the new programme will have in these areas - and to our involvement in some of the innovative partnerships it will fund.

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Horizon 2020 will launch on the Wednesday, 1st January 2014. Philippa and her colleague, Neil Phillips, are UWE Bristol’s European funding specialists. They are available to advise both businesses and academics on participation in the scheme, and to support bid submissions.

To contact Philippa or Neil, please call 0117 32 83306 or email Philippa.Shelton@uwe.ac.uk / Neil.Phillips@uwe.ac.uk.

Making Connections - "the Lifeblood of Innovation"

Posted by Shaun Jordan | 1 comment
31Oct2013

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board

In the first of our series of guest postings, Bristol resident and head of the UK’s innovation agency, Iain Gray, highlights the importance of ‘connectivity’ to business and research, drawing on examples from both UWE Bristol and the wider city-region.

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I am delighted to contribute to this blog, which will help to highlight some of the innovative developments taking place in Bristol and across the south west. The city has been a centre of commerce and enterprise for centuries and it remains so today. We have many world-leading businesses here, as well some of the country’s best research establishments.

I have lived in Bristol for nearly 30 years. Through my former role as Managing Director of Airbus UK and my extensive engagement in other Bristol-based organisations, I know just how dynamic this city is. Anyone who has attended the First Friday networking events at the Watershed will appreciate the strength and depth of the region's creativity and innovation.

So it is particularly welcome to see UWE Bristol launching this initiative to bring research and business closer. That process of bringing people together is also important in the work of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, where I am currently Chief Executive. 

We have identified some of the barriers to innovation facing business in the UK. The country has a world-class research base, but the challenge has been for industry to engage with it effectively. Increasingly, however, the UK is finding ways to build links across what is termed ‘the valley of death’ - the path from concept to commercialisation, as we refer to it.

Networking and collaboration are fundamental components of success. Bristol has the benefit of a really active set of local networks – the South West iNets. These are led by UWE Bristol and bring together communities across priority sectors in the region, from microelectronics to environmental goods and services.

The networks help to identify new opportunities for collaborative working and support businesses to translate ideas into new products and services. They link closely with the Technology Strategy Board’s own UK-wide Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs).

I am also pleased to see this University working with the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme – helping to transfer knowledge from the research base to businesses through the recruitment of an associate. An excellent example at UWE Bristol is the partnership with Renishaw, bringing the strengths of 3D printing at the Bower Ashton campus to bear in a leading UK technology company.

A major part of the Technology Strategy Board’s funds goes to supporting consortia - groups of businesses who work together to innovate and so produce something quite new and different. In many projects, universities are also involved, providing technical and scientific knowledge to underpin these developments. 

Networking can sometimes produce ‘eureka moments’. Great collaborations can come from conversations between people in very different industries: an idea that works in one sector may offer a solution to a challenge in another.  Add some technical expertise from a research institution and you have an innovation that takes an industry forward. 

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory - a "great example" of innovation.
UWE Bristol, and the city-region surrounding its campuses, have some great examples of this - ranging from the leading-edge work of the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, through to the cross-disciplinary nature of the Institute for Sustainability, Health and Environment. The Bristol Business School brings a wealth of experience to regional companies and entrepreneurs, giving them access to the latest innovation methods.

This cross-cutting approach is one we promote strongly at the Technology Strategy Board. We encourage businesses from different sectors to get involved in our competitions. Universities can play a key role in making this happen.

This blog and a new Twitter profile being hosted by the University of the West of England should help that process of getting people to talk, to share and to interact. It’s the lifeblood of innovation.

To take a line from a famous advertising campaign: it’s good to talk. So whether it is engineering, digital technologies, food or the creative sector, we all need to network more and make the most of each other’s expertise and insights. Bristol is in a really strong position – it should feel confident that in exploiting research, it can create world class business excellence in the region.

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Since 2007 Ian Gray has been Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, working as the operational head of the organisation as it works to stimulate and support UK innovation. Prior to this he was Managing Director and General Manager of Airbus UK. 
 
Iain is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineers, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and, in 2007, was awarded the Royal Aeronautical Society Gold Medal.

The Technology Strategy Board is an executive non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. It supports the development of innovative technologies and products, offering a range of targeted funding programmes and working with businesses of every size, universities and other organisations.