The GW4 Alliance’s return on investment in collaborative research communities has reached an all-time high.

GW4 now generates £20 in external research awards for every £1 it spends on networking its researchers – a significant increase from £13 in 2018, and up from its previous record high of £16 set in May 2021.

To date, the Alliance has invested £3.1 million in more than 100 collaborative research communities across Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities – such as climate change education, green recovery in cities, and new drugs to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This has resulted in a significant grant income of £62.8 million.

Dr Christopher Pudney: Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Investment in these research communities has attracted major external grant funding. The research community Developing a novel biological imaging technology for biomedical applications successfully secured a £1m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to investigate how fluorescence (the light given off by certain substances when it absorbs light) can be used to track the presence of novel psychoactive substances.

Lead PI Dr Christopher Pudney, from the University of Bath, said the EPSRC award will enable them to deliver the technology as “a point-of-care solution”. For instance, they are exploring its use in rapid drugs detection in homeless communities and prisons, which he explained could help improve clinical outcomes and support users to be safer.

“The GW4 grouping was instrumental in allowing us the space to leverage the best advances in the physical and biological sciences. Without the grouping we would not have developed our technology, which now is also expanding into a range of other applications,” Dr Pudney said.

Professor Sarah Halligan: Department of Psychology

GW4-funded research is further making global impact, as evidenced by the research community A biosocial approach to trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in young people which was awarded £716.5K by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Lead PI Professor Sarah Halligan, from the University of Bath, said:

Our ESRC project will help us to establish key risk and protective factors for poor mental health among children growing up in South African communities where they face many adversities. GW4 funding allowed us to develop a strong set of international collaborators and to complete essential pilot work for our project. This was absolutely critical to establishing the feasibility of our research study, without which it would not have been funded.

Dr Kate Charles, Head of Research Development in Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University of Bath, whose team supports academic staff in applying for external funding such as the collaborative research communities, says:

To see such growth in the return on investment for GW4 collaborative research communities is phenomenal. Being part of a productive Alliance is a huge asset for continuing to generate excellent research with real-world impact and provides the platform for deep and lasting academic collaboration.

See the GW4 announcement on the record return for investment in research.