Throughout the coronavirus outbreak there continues to be an encouraging volume of research grant submissions for external funding; April alone totalled over £10 million with many submissions responding to recent COVID-19 related calls.
Research and Innovation Services (RIS) helps researchers develop proposals, run projects and disseminate their findings. This includes Pre-Award support of managing the financial administration for research projects and we continue to adapt quickly and responsively to these submissions, many of which have imminent closing dates.
Successful submissions include Dr James Stone, Research Fellow in the Department of Physics, who has been awarded COVID-19 Emergency Funding from the EPSRC, he says:
The funded activity aims to speed up the translation of our existing endoscopic devices to clinic, developing a device platform to help treat COVID-19 patients. Our existing endoscopes will be used by our clinical collaborators in Edinburgh to rapidly screen existing clinically approved antivirals for their effectiveness as a treatment for COVID-19. Development of our endoscope will enable micro-dosing of drugs into the field of view of the device and rapidly observe the physiological response, microscopically, in the distal lung. The support from RIS has been great, particularly as we are dealing with unconventional funding routes which need to be navigated quickly.
Other successful submission include Dr Ben Ainsworth, Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, who has been awarded rapid response funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to improve hand hygiene in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Ben says:
We applied to the UKRI/MRC Call at the start of February, for the first wave of ‘COVID-19’ Rapid Response studies. The funding call targeted short term proposals to help understand, prevent, treat and control COVID-19, ranging from virology and vaccine development to public health and behavioural intervention. The process was incredibly rapid; we finalised the application in a couple of weeks across three universities (Bath, Bristol & Southampton) and Public Health England, as well as collaborators in China. We were one of four behavioural science projects announced in the UK press conference less than a month later. Our project was to develop ‘Germ Defence’, a behavioural intervention to reduce transmission of the coronavirus within the home.
The Pre-Award team in RIS helps academics prepare funding proposals for submission to external research funders, as well as accept and set up the administration of research awards. Lizzie Hope-Dyer, Head of Pre-Award says:
Following a rapid transition to home working as a result of COVID-19, the Pre-Award team continues to remotely support our academic community with bid costing, compliance and development. It has been very encouraging to see our electronic systems continue to facilitate effective collaboration between academics and RIS, particularly when moving applications through the approval process at pace in relation to COVID-19 rapid response calls.
The Research Grant Development team, also within RIS, supports academic staff to secure grant funding and realise their research ambitions. This includes facilitating workshops for improving grant proposal submissions. Since the coronavirus outbreak this service is now provided virtually by the team, through online collaboration platforms.
Most recently this included a workshop from Research Grant Development on ‘adolescence, mental health and the developing mind initiative’, in response to the new call from the Medical Research Council (MRC).
Professor Chris Eccleston, Department for Health, who attended the online workshop, says:
Dr Laura Wisby, Research Development Manager in RIS, has tracked the UKRI strategy and planning in adolescent mental health for some time; an area in which we in Bath have many individuals with extensive expertise and skill, spread across faculties and departments. She and colleagues at RIS, with support from Professor Stallard in Health, led an online workshop to consider a Bath-led application to the new call. Personally, I thought the workshop a great success. It attracted 30 attendees, many more than we could get face-to-face, it was well organised with presentations and supporting material available, virtual break out rooms, and efficient summary and actions. The professionalism and efficiency with which this workshop was managed was impressive. I hope it will lead to not only a Bath-led bid to this call, but to a more managed community of experts in adolescent health and wellbeing.
Professor Paul Stallard, Department for Health, who supported the event delivery, says:
Thank you to RIS for organising the adolescence, mental health and developing mind online meeting. Despite the challenges of lockdown RIS managed to organise an interactive online event which brought almost 30 academics together from across the University. It was a great opportunity to meet and hear about the work of others and this will be very helpful in determining the shape of future research collaborations.