Interdisciplinary collaborative research and innovation communities across the four universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter can now apply for up to £20k funding to support 6-month projects, as the latest round of the GW4 Building Communities Generator Fund officially opens.

The GW4 Building Communities Programme aims to build research communities of scale and capability that will deliver a step change in world-class research and innovation, which could not be achieved by one of the institutions alone.

Now in its fifth year, the GW4 Generator Fund supports both the creation of new GW4 communities and the development of the strongest ideas emerging from our existing communities. The GW4 Generator Fund is an open call in any area of research or innovation, with the purpose of addressing a major research or societal challenge. Projects should look to engage both academic and external partners. Interdisciplinary research is explicitly encouraged and applications from Early Career Researcher (ECR) communities are also particularly welcome.

Building Communities Manager, Dr Harriet Mills, said:

The GW4 Building Communities Generator Fund has an excellent track record of investing in collaborative communities which drive research and innovation to address core challenges at scale. Several of our previously awarded communities have been able to use Generator Funding as a springboard to larger projects, such as the recently announced £4.6million AHRC funded Transforming Housing and Homes for Future Generations project, which stemmed from a GW4 research community. We would encourage prospective applicants to think of this scheme as a way to develop new communities or ideas which could later be eligible for external funding.

GW4 Alliance Director, Dr Joanna Jenkinson MBE, said:

GW4 builds research capacity to tackle societal challenges. The GW4 Building Communities Generator Fund has proven itself to be an excellent way to foster collaborative interdisciplinary working and to support research communities to explore solutions to some of the biggest research questions and innovation challenges. I look forward to reviewing the applications and further developing our collective research and innovation offering.

Professor Sarah Hainsworth OBE FREng, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at the University of Bath, said:

The GW4 Building Communities Generator Fund is a great mechanism for bringing together researchers from across the Alliance to create communities and projects which address some of today’s most pressing research questions. Colleagues from the University of Bath have experienced great success as a result of participating in the scheme, and I would encourage academics and ECRs keen to develop new lines of, or expand on existing, academic enquiry, to apply for this highly competitive source of funding.

To date, the GW4 Alliance has invested around £3.39million in 115 collaborative research communities, across Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities, covering a range of topics, including those related to the Alliance’s new key strategic priorities – cyber and digital; health and wellbeing; creative communities, and sustainable Net Zero. GW4’s existing research communities draw on complementary expertise across the institutions and work with hundreds of external partners. They produce pioneering findings and influence policy in a variety of areas such as the gender pay gap, cancer research, mental wellbeing, climate change education and developing new drugs to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Rachel Arnold, Academic Director (Doctoral) and a Reader in Sport and Performance Psychology at the University of Bath, and PI of the GW4 PUP Community – Performance Under Pressure, said:

The funding from this scheme has been essential to further build our GW4 community, strengthen its connections with external partners, and collaboratively apply for grants to conduct further research together and maximise impact from the work already produced.

Generator funding can be used as a stand-alone award or, in conjunction with other sources of funding. Applicants are encouraged to view our application guidance and webinar for support with building an effective application. Applications must include 3 or more GW4 Alliance institutions.

All existing research and innovation communities can be viewed on the GW4 website, along with case studies showcasing some of the outcomes from previous awardees. The deadline for applications is 5 February 2024. For more information, please view the application guidance, application guidance webinar, and forms, on the GW4 Generator Fund Webpages. Interested applicants may also contact the GW4 Building Communities Manager by emailing