Hosted here at UWE Bristol, the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement exist to inspire a culture change in the way universities across the UK engage with the public.
Our vision is of a higher education sector making a vital, strategic and valued contribution to 21st-century society through its public engagement activity.
In December we ran our annual conference for all those interested in public engagement in higher education. We had 450 delegates travel to Bristol from across the country to come together, to be inspired, challenged and refreshed.
The theme of our conference this year was disruption, in our universities, our research, our futures and our lives.
We reflected on the current contexts for engagement in a world that is increasingly fragmented; where social inequality deepens; where we are facing the consequences of our collective activity on the planet; and where we need to find more effective ways to address the challenges that face us all. All of this in a setting where the future of university funding is increasingly unpredictable, and where traditional paradigms of knowledge and knowledge production are being challenged from all sides.
Upcoming Public Engagement Impacts Workshop at UWE Bristol
A chance to refresh your REF 2021 thinking, enrich your understanding of public engagement impacts and how they can be evidenced, and consider the features of a high quality narrative – the NCCPE will be running a free bespoke workshop for UWE Bristol on Tuesday 21st January, 9.30 – 16.00.
The workshop will include expert guidance, group activities and discussions, sole work, paired feedback, and specialist knowledge provided by the NCCPE.
It will be relevant to anyone who is research active and hopes to collect and evidence impact from public engagement events. Places are limited, please register using the online form.
Launching today (14/01/2020), UWE Bristol will partner with TechSPARK to deliver a pioneering programme to help catalyse investment into fast-growing startups in Bristol, Bath and the West of England. The programme is the first of its kind in the UK and will launch activities to increase the flow of money into the area and showcase the region as a leading start-up hub.
The Investment Activator Programme (IAP) will begin as a 2 year pilot bringing together 8 public and private sector organisations who recognise the impact of working collaboratively to strengthen the ecosystem and jointly deliver activity.
In the last few years Bristol has seen a dramatic rise in the level of investment into the city’s businesses and in 2019 outperformed the likes of Dublin, Zurich, Amsterdam, Oxford and Brussels. However there’s still a long way to go before the regions can compete with more traditional investment hubs like London where over $8.2bn raised this year versus $418m locally.
Investment Activator Briony Phillips said “According to the UKBAA, we have the third largest community of angel investors (early stage) in the UK, behind London and the South East. And yet 85% of the angel investment from our region goes into the golden triangle of London, Cambridge and Oxford.”
“Little do they know that Graphcore and Ovo Energy are Bristol-grown unicorns, and Ultrahaptics, Blu Wireless, Immersive Labs and Open Bionics are just a few examples of real power-hitters when it comes to raising investment and making their mark on the global tech scene. The Investment Activator programme will add some much-needed capacity to help solve this challenge.”
The programme will build on some of the work done by TechSPARK and Engine Shed by expanding on the successful Silicon Gorge pitch competition which has worked with over 250 companies pitching for over £150 million between them, and the Quarterly Investment Briefing (QIB) events, which has brought together over 300 investors to network, share knowledge and learn about potential investment opportunities.
The IAP has three areas of delivery – Events / Content and Community / Data and Connections – with the core objectives being:
To accelerate and catalyse the investment ecosystem
To make investment support more accessible for founders
To build the network of investors and founders or leaders locally
The programme will deliver over 30 targeted investment events, articles and tools to support founders raising money. It will offer a relationship management programme to build connections with investors across the UK and showcase the opportunities in the West on a national stage.
Tracey John, Director of Business and Innovation at UWE Bristol says: “We are really excited to be supporting the new Investment Activator Programme. The start-up ecosystem in the West of England needs initiatives that bring startups and early stage companies together with investors; investors who not only provide access to funds, but also offer real business experience that is invaluable to any early stage growth company. We have over 85 high tech businesses in the University Enterprise Zone at our Frenchay Campus and are excited to see the IAP support their growth.”
Other specialist partners for the programme include Delaware (enterprise software), Engine Shed (economic development), Rocketmakers (Venturetech), Sanderson (talent), Smith & Williamson (accounting), TLT (legal) & the West of England Combined Authority (Business Support).
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships have been helping UK businesses innovate and grow for over 40 years and are one of a range of funding initiatives made available through Innovate UK (the UK government’s Innovation Agency).
Linking businesses with an academic or research organisation and a graduate, a KTP enables a business to bring in new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project through a knowledge-based partnership.
The academic or research organisation partner will help to recruit a suitable graduate, known as an Associate. They will act as the employer of the graduate, who then works at the company for the duration of the project.
The scheme can last between 12 and 36 months, depending on what the project is and the needs of the business.
All of the knowledge gained during this time is embedded in the business, providing a valuable base to build on long after the project has finished. (A very high percentage of Associates are retained as employees, demonstrating the value they bring to the business).
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships can benefit businesses of any size and in any sector looking to address a core strategic challenge.
Management KTP (MKTP) – Innovate UK have announced there is additional funding available for Management KTPs. The focus is to increase management skills and embed management strategies into your business. For more information visit our website or contact us on KTP@uwe.ac.uk
KTN have launched a new website, where you can discover more about KTP and potential associate vacancies as well as access the latest information on the Management KTPs
Scale Up 4 Growth (S4G) is a free programme of support,
being delivered by UWE Bristol, NatWest and Foot Anstey, for businesses in the
West of England that are looking to grow, expand and scale. As part of this
ERDF funded programme, 27 successful businesses have been awarded grants
ranging between £10k and £40k to help their businesses grow.
Since launching last year nearly 350 businesses have
registered for S4G support, which also includes fully funded workshops and
1-to-1 expertise. The companies who applied for S4G grant funding were
rigorously assessed through a competitive process. The 27 selected businesses
received grants totalling £800,000.
The successful businesses have come from a big range of
sectors and areas including digital, data, health tech, waste, recycling,
media, microelectronics, b2b, social enterprise, as well food and drink
businesses. The list ranges from an award-winning, independent, artisan bakery
and café, to a company who have developed the world’s first chemical-free pool
“Scale Up 4 Growth is
the in region to support the businesses that need some help to grow. It’s been
great to work with the successful businesses that have got some exciting growth
plans but just need that extra little bit of support that the University can
give. Working with NatWest and Foot Anstey as partners on this programme has
been fantastic and they have been hugely supportive throughout.”
Banking at NatWest, Matt Hatcher commented:
thoroughly enjoyed working with UWE and Foot Anstey on the S4G programme,
helping SMEs get access to quality coaching, knowledge and funding to support
their ambitious growth plans”.
Partner at Foot
Anstey, Nathan Peacey commented:
“Foot Anstey have
found the S4G programme both inspiring and rewarding”
The successful businesses met for the first time at a
celebration event held at UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone on Wednesday
23 October. The breakfast event gave the businesses the opportunity to meet
other successful businesses and share what the money means to them.
Scale Up 4 Growth will receive up to £1,200,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the programme’s Managing Authority. Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.
The Women Researchers Mentoring Scheme (WRMS) aims to promote and facilitate professional development for women researchers working at UWE Bristol, helping them reach senior research roles.
Applications for the 2020/21 scheme are now open and will close on Wednesday 15 January 2020 at 5pm.
The scheme is open to all women in academic and research roles, employed by UWE, who wish to develop their careers.
The benefits of being involved in the scheme by becoming a mentor or mentee could assist your development and progression. The scheme will entail a nominated woman researcher being matched to a mentor, who can be a woman or man. Training will be provided to all new participants. The application deadline is Wednesday 15 January 2020.
How to apply Applications are now invited for both mentors and mentees. For access to the online application system, please email the Scheme Co-ordinator, Fiona Watt
Outcomes will be notified to applicants by early March 2020.
A half-day workshop will be run which is compulsory for mentees and highly encouraged for mentors as part of the scheme. This is a vital opportunity for all those participating in the scheme to network with each other, learn about the importance of women progressing in research roles and the support available, and share experiences and ideas.
In your application, please select whether you would like to apply for the afternoon session on Tuesday 3 March 2020 or the morning session on Thursday 12 March 2020.
Further details of the workshops will be notified to applicants who are matched for mentoring relationships running in 2020-21.
Two MA Animation alumni, Hend Youssef Esmat and Lamiaa Diab,
who set up their own animation business and are now based in Launch
Space, have had their work used in an MG car TV advert.
Originally from Cairo, the duo graduated from UWE in 2018 before moving into Launch Space in February. Hend and Lamiaa’s MA graduation film “Flipped” is currently being shown on the Festival Circuit and has been screened at over 30 festivals worldwide including Anima (Brussels), Pictoplasma (Berlin), ITFS(Stuttgart), NYICFF (NYC), LIAF (London). It won Best Short Animation at the Overcome Film Festival as well as being nominated for a Lotte Reiniger Award.
The directing duo specialise in stylised design and animation services for businesses, charities and broadcasters.
In July, the pair were approached by Limegreen Tangerine to work on a TV project for MG cars. Hend commented on the experience “It was quite rewarding to be trusted to create the designs and animation for such a big project. We found the brief very exciting and challenging, as we have never applied our design and animation style in a commercial context before. Also mixing our 2D style with the 3D animation of the car is something we had to experiment with and had to make different tests until we reached a final look which fit both styles together.” You can view the advert here.
Lamiaa commented on their experience in of Launch Space so
far “We are extremely grateful to have
been offered the opportunity to come back to Bristol after graduation, and to
be provided with guidance and support to develop our business and grow our
You can keep up to date with Hend and Lamiaa’s work here and follow them on Twitter here.
Located in the new £16m University Enterprise Zone on Frenchay Campus, Launch Space provides physical incubator space and enterprise support for graduate start-up businesses.
Launch Space will receive up to £2,000,000 of
funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the
European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. The
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the
programme’s Managing Authority. Established by the European Union, the ERDF
helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects
that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community
[Photo L-R: Dr Geraint Jones (Innovate UK), Alex Sleat (UWE Bristol), Shirley Hall (ExtraCare), Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly (UWE Bristol) attending the quarterly review meeting at Bristol Robotics Lab]
UWE Bristol has been working on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with ExtraCare Charitable Trust. Based in Coventry, with a village in Stoke Gifford, ExtraCare runs retirement villages and housing developments and currently has almost 4,000 homes available for older people.
This KTP aims to develop expertise in smart living technologies, such as intelligent sensing and socially assistive robots. The project aims to explore what technologies are capable of improving service provision, increasing productivity, generating revenue and upskilling staff. We spoke with Alex Sleat who has been leading the project as the KTP Associate:
What attracted you to the KTP role?
I’ve been a researcher in academia for some time, so it was interesting for me to get to see lab research being utilised in the outside environment. The KTP partnership between UWE and ExtraCare is a great opportunity for this.
How is the partnership between UWE and Extracare working?
The partnership is going well, there’s a good level of communication between the two partners, and a lot of additional activity towards finding opportunities for future collaboration.
What are the current challenges of your role?
The main reoccurring challenge is finding technology that fits into people’s lifestyles, trying to figure out how technology will work for an individual and then conducting research around their busy schedules and in their own homes. Getting people to try new technology is always tricky, so it’s important that explanations are simple and the technology is bespoke enough to prove beneficial.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Sometimes it’s obvious to see the positive effects of new technologies. Often technology that might have been overlooked, because it’s not directly designed for a purpose, has a huge impact and allows people to improve their day-to-day lives, wellbeing, health and independence. I spend a lot of time inside the retirement village, so have enjoyed getting to know the residents and watching the community grow.
What do you think about the support available from UWE and the Company?
Both UWE and ExtraCare have made me feel part of the group, and support and guidance from both sides has been tremendous when I’ve needed it.
To find out more about the Knowledge Transfer Partnership opportunities at UWE, visitour website
As part of the Being Human Festival 2019, Professor Steve Poole is co-hosting an event on 14 November that explores ‘dark tourism’ sites of extraordinary public execution in Georgian Britain. Read all about it in his post below:
Steve Poole, University of the West of England, Bristol
“Ralph Hoyte and I first came up with the idea for Romancing the Gibbet in 2014 and pitched it to the first Being Human festival. Here’s the premise: Ralph is a poet concerned with embedding language in the landscape, a situated poetry working in tandem with the experience of Place. I’m a social historian interested in the representation of emotional trauma in the historic environment. What might we make if we worked together?
In 2014, Ralph was developing digital conversations between
the Romantic poets Coleridge and the Wordsworths in the Quantock Hills above
Nether Stowey in the later 18th century, and I was completing some
research about the extraordinary and occasional practice of hanging criminals at
remote rural crime scenes in the same period. In many cases, the executed body
was then left to slowly decompose in an iron gibbet cage suspended high over
Conventional histories assess the evidence surrounding
events like these but struggle to represent their emotional and affective
impact on the environment in which they were staged and in the consciousness of
the people they targeted. We wondered whether a fusion of historical research
and poetic response, cast as a situated performance piece close to an execution
site could get us (and a local audience) closer to understanding the process as
it was conceived by contemporaries – as a deep and indelible mark on the
collective memory of a community.
So, augmented by a live soundscape created by the environmental artist Michael Fairfax, we staged two bespoke Being Human performances along these lines at Warminster, Wiltshire (where two men were hanged on a hill overlooking the town after murdering a farmer and his servant in 1813) and at Nether Stowey, Somerset (where a man was hanged for the murder of his wife in 1789). Built around lengthy balladic interpretations, these went down astonishingly well and attracted a brilliantly mixed audience of local history buffs, creative writing fans and curious local residents.
Our next objective was to make some more permanent immersive
landscape interventions, adapting the performance pieces and making them more
accessible. Ralph and I had both worked a lot with creative digital audio as an
interpretation tool so we next threw that experience into building four
geo-located ‘Romancing the Gibbet’ app downloads. We added two new poetry
commissions: a fratricidal killing in the estuary at Avonmouth in 1741 and the
murder of a labourer on a hill overlooking Chipping Camden in 1772. These
immersive landscape trails are designed for use with smartphone and headphones
in the environment they commemorate. They are not linear guides and they do not
offer ‘information’. We see them as situated sound pieces triggered by past
At this year’s Being Human festival we’re promoting all this
work – engaging audiences at community halls in each of the four locales, with
historical discussion, sample performance pieces and specially laid out audio
Why have we stuck with this project for five years now? Partly because we are still learning how our understanding of the world, and what it is to be a human in it, is affected by a finely tuned balance between reason and emotion. Historians haven’t always found it easy to work with imaginative reconstruction, with empathy or with feeling. But here was an historical practice deliberately designed to traumatise, to emotionally scar and to change for generations the ways in which the landscape was read and understood. What’s more, eighteenth century people often used poetry themselves to record them, perhaps because rational explanation was never quite enough.
For heritage interpretation, making sense of emotional
currents and their relationship to the conventional archive, material culture
and the natural world seems to me absolutely vital. And working collaboratively
with creative industries partners like Ralph has changed the way I think as an
Creative and even-handed co-production between artists and academics can provoke audiences to think differently about the past and to ‘remember’ or ‘know’ things in different ways. Collective memories, tied to Place, may reveal themselves in evidence-based research, but they may also emerge in myths, fictions and folklore. Poetry works with the spectral traces of a half remembered, part imaginary past and is quite at home in it. But it is no less ‘authentic’ for all that.”
Watch a short film of Ralph and Steve discussing the project here. To book tickets for the event please see here.
Researchers at UWE Bristol are supporting the North Bristol
NHS Trust to develop a device that can diagnose urinary tract infections (UTI)
in a few minutes. The project, funded by
the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), could avoid instances when
doctors prescribe antibiotics as a precautionary measure while waiting for test
The device, which will be about the size of a domestic
toaster, is to be developed within the University’s Institute of Bio-sensing
Technology. It will work using a cartridge that contains antibodies to common
UTI bacteria, and a protein indicating when an infection is present. A small
volume of the patient’s urine sample is poured into the cartridge, which is
then placed in the new detection device, after which a diagnosis can be made
Professor Richard Luxton, who is co-Founder and Director of
the Institute of Bio-sensing Technology at UWE Bristol said: “As well as
speeding up the diagnostic process, this device is aimed at minimizing
inappropriate prescription of antibiotics and hence supporting the aim of
reducing antimicrobial resistance.
“Currently it can take up to three days to get a result
for a urine sample sent to a microbiology laboratory. If the patient has
ongoing symptoms, the GP will sometimes prescribe antibiotics before the result
is back. This could be harmful to the patient, and also to the community at
Professor Marcus Drake, Consultant Urologist from North
Bristol NHS Trust and project Principle Investigator, said that as well as
being slow, such methods are sometimes unreliable. “The new device will
detect the infecting bacteria directly, giving a reliable indicator of the UTI.
Current dipstick type tests measure chemicals in the urine that suggest
bacteria may be present, but these are not sensitive and may miss an
infection,” he said.
The development of the diagnostic device is in its early
stages and the project duration is scheduled for three years to develop a
prototype, and do a preliminary test with real urine specimens. Over a following
three-year period, researchers will then further develop the diagnostic system
to bring it in line with regulations, with a plan for the device to then be
used in clinical trials.
Following this, the researchers hope to make it available to
the NHS for use in GP surgeries for patients with suspected UTI.
Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences Dr Alex Greenhough has been awarded a grant of almost £25,000 from Bowel Cancer UK to understand why some patients with rectal cancer don’t respond well to certain treatments and look for new ways to improve its chance of success.
Alex will be studying proteins that are found in bowel cancer cells to find out if they affect how patients respond to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In collaboration with Adam Chambers and Professor Ann Williams from the University of Bristol, they hope to discover how subtle differences in these proteins might help them to which patients will respond best to this type of treatment.
Knowing which patients are likely to respond well to chemotherapy and radiotherapy means this treatment can be offered to those who would most benefit from it. Most importantly, patients will be spared from the side effects of a treatment that simply won’t work for them.
This award is part of Bowel Cancer UK’s investment of over £1.3 million pounds to support research with the greatest benefits for those at risk and affected by the disease.
Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, however it shouldn’t be because it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.
Alex said: “We are incredibly grateful for this funding from Bowel Cancer UK, which will give us a fantastic opportunity to make important progress towards better understanding patient responses to chemoradiotherapy and ultimately improve clinical outcomes.”
Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “We are delighted to invest in Dr Greenhough’s research. This important work will support our commitment to invest in high quality, innovative and creative solutions to help lead a step change in the number of people surviving bowel cancer.”