GW4 collaboration already proving successful

Professor Jane Millar, OBEMessage from Professor Jane Millar, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Dear Colleague,

Earlier this year we entered into an exciting new collaboration called GW4 with the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

The primary aim of this alliance is to create a critical mass that will better enable the four universities to compete for research funding.

GW4 seeks to work across all areas of academic activity, opening up more opportunities to collaborate in research and develop shared research infrastructure, resources and funding, joint capital investment, doctoral training and joint staff appointments.

In support of this collaboration, each university has committed to providing an allocation of £250K per annum for a period of 2 years in the first instance.

A GW4 Board has been set up, chaired by Professor Guy Orpen (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Bristol).

It has identified four key workstreams to be tackled in the first instance:

  • Shared infrastructure
  • Building capacity and developing people
  • Connectivity and communication
  • Building communities

The four universities are represented on each workstream by a senior academic and the most appropriate member of Professional Services.

I am delighted to be taking the lead for the shared infrastructure theme. Our current priorities include:

  • Further develop the GW4 equipment sharing website;
  • investigate high performance computer systems;
  • develop an approach to the sharing of key library collections and research data management;
  • identify and promote potential efficiency savings around procurement;
  • advise and develop video-style conferencing facilitates across the four institutions.

Research related activities will be the focus for GW4 in the first instance; however, there are also clear opportunities for collaboration with our GW4 partners in our other areas of activity.

GW4 has already been successful in bids for funding. In October the South, West and Wales consortium led by GW4 members (together with the universities of Aberystwyth, Bath Spa, Reading and Southampton) successfully bid to set up an AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). The consortium was awarded £14.2M, funding 200 studentships over the 5 year lifetime of the DTP.

And this month, the GW4+ consortium (bringing together a consortium of over 30 research, industrial and third-sector organisations to deliver innovative training to environmental science PhD students) successfully bid to set up a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership. The consortium was awarded 140 studentships over the five year lifetime of the DTP.

GW4+ is one of 15 DTPs to benefit from NERC’s £100 million investment in training environmental science PhD students, and is the largest of its kind in the UK. Under the programme, a minimum of 30 per cent of the students will work with non-academic partners. This is intended to provide students with the valuable industry experience they need to enter a wide range of careers.

I will keep you posted of further developments. If you have any questions or want to find out more about the work and priorities of GW4 please do get in touch.

Professor Jane Millar

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)

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