September’s Wider Outlook is here!

Wider Outlook – Funding, Policy updates and Research


Welcome to September’s Wider Outlook—the team have chosen the theme of working with Horizon 2020 and SMEs for this month. We have identified and created a number of articles related to this topic.

Once again, current funding opportunities remain part of our daily blog, and  individual opportunities are circulated to relevant groups as a bespoke service.

This edition includes:

  • a report back from the UK Research Office (UKRO) annual conference highlighting key issues for the university
  • the background and programme for our annual UKRO conference on November 20th
  • European Commission Regional funds and our internal champion
  • Intellectual Property and H2020
  • What is an SME?

Do continue to use our fantastic Funding Calendar enjoy this edition, and as ever contact us with any comments, ideas or suggestions at

The External Projects Team: Jose, Holly, Esther, Chris and Margaret


UK Research Office (UKRO) annual conference, Bristol

The UK research office (UKRO) represents all the UK research councils in Brussels, providing guidance and advice to the UK university sector as they bid for EU research funding.The conference provided thoughts on issues the UK research community could address and improve.The full programme and presentations for the annual conference can be accessed here:

The conference emphasised that H2020 is not business as usual, in that there is a distinct move away from pure research to addressing societal issues and challenges – such as the ageing population, and the financial crisis. This approach brings in formally a wider range of disciplines, for example the social sciences and humanities, SSH. It also brings in a wider range of sectors. In particular the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise sector (SME) who are the focus within H2020 for bringing the outcomes of research to market.

Key themes and challenges for the university sector arising from the conference are as follows:

  • Mainstreaming SSH and innovation
  • Joining up H2020 better to domestic programmes – there is a government science and innovation strategy due in the autumn that is designed to bring the two together
  • Linking H2020 to the structural funds (UK has an allocation of £11bn for to Local Enterprise Partnerships to prioritise –of which there is £800m allocated to innovation – particularly for taking research outcomes to market)
  • Developing links to business –SMEs and making the funds accessible

h2020 business

Particular challenges for universities in relation to working with business are:

      • How to find the right businesses for universities to work with
      • Questions of why businesses don’t collaborate internationally –linked to Intellectual Property; How to deal with IP rights in H2020 –in the past industry have been reluctant to sign up to EC requirements. See our IP article below.
      • Questions of why businesses don’t collaborate internationally linked to finding the right partners
      • Under the first SME call –UK came 3rd in terms of numbers applications (after Spain and Italy) and second in numbers of approvals.



Programme for our annual UKRO conference in November

We have planned the date early for the University’s annual European funding event this year, so you can book a place before your diary fills up.

We are especially delighted to welcome both Jane Watkins, National Contact Point for SMEs in Horizon 2020 to the conference alongside Błażej Thomas our UKRO adviser.

Be a Part of European Funding’

Thursday 20 November 2014   09:00-16:30

LT114/116 Ashley Building, Leek Road, Stoke on Trent

Morning Programme

09:00-10:30 – SME involvement in H2020 – How researchers can work with businesses and other non-academic sectors under the different Horizon 2020 programmes. Błażej Thomas, UKRO 

10:30-12:00 – Marie Sklodowska Curie funding –  An overview of the fund, what we can achieve with it, and the level of detail required for an application. Błażej Thomas, UKRO

 12:00- 13:00 Networking Lunch

Afternoon Programme

Information and Networking session for Businesses and University Staff

 13:00-14:00 Presenting the Horizon 2020 SME instrument. Jane Watkins, National Contact Point for SMEs in Horizon 2020 

Throughout the afternoon

12:00-16:30 –One to One Sessions with Jane Watkins and Błażej Thomas

Book a one to one session with our European specialists to get inside knowledge on developing your European Project.

Get individual advice on which conferences to attend to meet people, which EU policies you should be focusing on, how to find partners, how to develop your bid and more.

Businesses interested in getting involved with European funded projects are invited to come to the University to find out how the programmes work and talk to academics about how they can collaborate on projects.

The University has lead and partnered on many European projects. It is a great way for businesses to develop their European networks and to get funding to develop a new idea to improve your business.

To book your place for any or all of these sessions email

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The External Projects Team at the 2013 UKRO event


European regional funds and our internal champion

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are the main funds to support to growth and jobs across the EU. They are allocated regionally, to help develop new services and new products within an area.

The 2014-2020 allocation for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent area is worth £138.4 million, and it has a 60% intervention rate. It comprises the European Regional Development Fund, ERDF (£83m) and of the European Social Fund, ESF (£55.3m). In addition, £3.13m is available to support investment for rural enterprise.

Priorities have been set out around these 4 themes:

  •  Innovation (ERDF),
  •  SME competitiveness (ERDF),
  • Place and environment (ERDF),
  • Skills, employment and social inclusion (ESF).

4 high value added sectors have been identified within the area: advanced materials, advanced manufacturing and energy, digital and creative industries.

Marie Pandolfo, who is covering Emma Davies’s maternity leave within Enterprise and Commercial Development, acts as the reference point for ERDF.

The University is likely to seek to develop a range of new infrastructures and facilities (Open Innovation platform, incubation space, shared research laboratories), as well as more support for enterprise along with a particular focus on the Creative industries.

If you have any project ideas or requests, please contact


T: 01785 353831.

Marie is listing all project ideas in order to get ready for the first call for proposals in the next few months, and to nurture the ESIF framework documents, which are still being discussed.





Open Access

This is a summary of our Open Access briefing note which examines the meaning according to the EU Commission and the Research Councils

For the full note see Note on open access

Open access, as understood by the European Commission, or the Research Councils, is the free and open access to the outputs of publicly-funded research, usually in the form of academic publications.  Open access is required by the funders to promote social and economic benefits as well as aiding the development of new research.

The Research Councils’ general policy is that research and data should also be available to potential users in business, charitable and public sectors, and to the general tax-paying public, on the basis that research funded by the tax payer should be available and accessible to the tax payer.

There is an inevitable tension where the Commission and the Research Councils and other public funders wish to encourage publication of results and research data.  However, on general projects and Horizon 2020, the policy has included the taking into account of legitimate concerns in relation to privacy, commercial interests and rights of access to large data volumes.  There appears to be an attempt to encourage a culture of sharing scientific and other publications, and permit adequate protection of rights of parties in research and research data.

Learn more, In practical terms however – the European Commission’s IP help desk will look at draft agreements and give comments on proposals

Learn more, at the IPR webinar September 3rd 11-30 to 13-00.



What is an SME?

Working with SMEs? -here is the European Commission’s SME definition



July’s Wider Outlook is here!

Wider Outlook – Funding, Policy updates and Research


Welcome to July’s  Wider Outlook—the team have chosen the theme of  Research Matters and interdisciplinarity for this month’s theme. There is no shortage of encouragement to engage in interdisciplinary research and the need to do this is widely recognised – in order to begin to answer the big research questions –  but how do you make a start and what are the institutional and other barriers? Who does it well – and how could we approach research differently?

Horizon 2020 recognises this too – and has posed research questions around challenges, societal challenges, climate change, health and food security. Explicitly highlighting the multidisciplinary dimensions to these ‘wicked problems’ by including the Social Sciences and Humanities as key collaborators.

We have identified a number of articles related to this topic -and for the first time we have not included funding opportunities in Wider Outlook –  to keep current these are now blogged daily, or sent out to small relevant groups as a bespoke service,

Do continue to use our fantastic Funding Calendar enjoy this edition, and as ever contact us with any comments, ideas or suggestions at


RCUK logo

RCUK’s plans for 2015-16

Collaboration and efficiencies top RCUK’s 2015-16 plans; Research Councils UK will develop an innovation strategy, improve researcher training and career development and review its support of interdisciplinary research, according to its 2015-16 delivery plan.

The plan, published on 16 June, splits RCUK’s aims into two themes: delivering excellence with impact and enhancing efficiency.

Delivering excellence with impact

To address the first, RCUK says it will produce an innovation strategy that takes into account increasing collaboration and the UK science and innovation strategy, to be delivered in the autumn.

RCUK will also refresh its shared strategic objectives with the Technology Strategy Board, and improve work with partners such as the National Centre for Universities and Business. More interdisciplinary training will be provided for researchers, and RCUK says it will develop more robust evidence on the impact of training on the wider economy, as well as establishing an improved professional development agenda.

In addition to the review of the support of interdisciplinary research, which has been prompted by recommendations in the triennial review of the research councils, RCUK says it will continue working on cross-cutting areas, such as big data.

RCUK also sets out its international collaboration plans, working with government to deliver the £375-million Newton Fund, and helping UK researchers benefit from Horizon 2020.

Enhancing efficiency

On the efficiency side, RCUK confirms its plan to appoint an executive director to improve harmonisation in internal operations and says that it will continue making efficiency savings up to 2016.

At the same time, each research council has published its own delivery plan for 2015-16, which sets out the areas of investment for that time as well as committing to further collaborative working, efficiency savings and improving training for researchers. Most of these plans are continuations of earlier delivery or strategic plans. – See more at:



Report calls for better inclusion of Social Science and Humanities in H2020

 Horizon 2020 should include more opportunities for interdisciplinary research to ensure that societal challenges and humanities have sufficient space in the programme.

A report by Net4Society group, an advisory group on social and economic sciences funded by the European Commission, found that 37 per cent of the topics in the first Horizon 2020 work programmes include elements of social sciences and humanities. It is important for this work to be properly supported and made more visible in the wider approach to solving the Horizon 2020 societal challenges, the group said.

All Horizon 2020 advisory groups should contain members with a background in social sciences and humanities to ensure that these disciplines are included when projects are implemented, says the report.

When the original proposal for Horizon 2020 was issued in 2012, no provisions had been made for the inclusion of social science and humanities. After prolonged lobbying by social sciences and humanities researchers, the Commission decided to split the programme’s sixth challenge into two, creating a special budget for SSH work.

– See more at:


Basic RGB

Academics Anonymous: breaking down barriers between disciplines

Big problems require thinkers who can transcend the traditional boundaries between subjects. In an era where the speed of progress in e.g. biosciences is accelerating, it’s true that specialisation is necessary just to keep up with the data being produced. In fact, a whole new specialism, bioinformatics, has emerged to do just that. But the rebuttal to this is that we desperately need generalists to unify the specialist niches.

The really big problems of climate change, for example, can only be addressed by unifying thought from meteorologists, oceanographers, glaciologists, social scientists, behavioural scientists, political research, economists and so on. Some ideas:

• Hire and judge people on the quality and impact of their research, not on the journal they have published in.

• Anonymise job and grant applications.

• Allow interdisciplinary grants as standard that are reviewed by people from multiple disciplines.

• Provide funding for pump-priming new collaboration attempts and risky “what-if” projects.

• Bring experts from other institutions and industries into universities to provide specialised training to students while allowing academics to guide students in critical thinking and core skills.

• Give students free choice of modules so they can graduate as generalists.

For more see:


schoolboy with open book on white background. Isolated 3D image

Interdisciplinary research is the future at Sussex University

An extract of a recent interview with Michael Farthing vice-chancellor of Sussex University

“Development studies are still very strong in this university, and we are very concerned about the inequalities that could be driven further by climate change, by migration. We now have a medical school, so we’re fully engaged with health issues, not just local but global,” says Farthing. “There is a sense that the things we do here have got to be important, they’ve got to have impact, they’ve got to be relevant to the world outside.”

While some universities are still struggling with the idea of interdisciplinarity, it has been part of Sussex’s make-up from the start, and the return to a flatter, school-based structure will, Farthing believes, help it to flourish. The university’s neuroscience centre, for example, includes specialists in the fields of medicine, psychology, life sciences and informatics and engineering, while the Sackler centre for the study of consciousness science, built on philanthropic donations, brings together, among others, psychiatrists and computer scientists. A new interdisciplinary centre for Middle East studies is in progress.

In 1961, Sussex was a small university, alive with promise and opportunity. Farthing is aware that the expansion has, to some extent, changed the character of the university. But growth, he argues, has enabled the university to increase the breadth and depth of its research and to offer a wider range of courses. He is clear that he doesn’t want to lose “those very distinctive features” of the university, such as its commitment to interdisciplinarity. “Everybody here lives, breathes, eats, sleeps, drinks interdisciplinarity. And that is as alive as it was 50 years ago,” he says.




Horizon 2020 – European Parliament input

Much of the credit for Horizon 2020 being simpler and more cohesive than its predecessors can got to the European Parliament, says Fiona Hall MEP.

Research is becoming more complex and interdisciplinary, and companies, institutions and governments are finding it difficult to fund increasingly costly projects. Modern research requires a high level of coordination and cooperation, freedom of movement for talent and ideas, and the ability to leverage large sums of money.

This is the main rationale for having an EU-level research policy. A bloc of 28 countries, representing more than 500 million people and a large resource pool, is well placed to respond to the challenges involved in research and innovation.

EU programmes provide an additional stream of financing to complement national efforts at a time when national budgets are under pressure. According to the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, for example, almost one-fifth of all funding for UK higher education institutions now comes from the EU.

UK researchers are disproportionately successful at obtaining EU funds, having received more than 15 per cent of the total funding from Framework 7 (second only to Germany) and been involved in more projects than any other country. But in general, across member states, money from Framework 7 has helped to bridge the funding gap and enable many projects and international collaborations that would otherwise not have happened.

For full article see:



Ethics in Horizon 2020

Ethics research must be conducted in all parts of Horizon 2020 to ensure research and innovation is undertaken responsibly, according to the League of European Research Universities (Leru).

Leru states that the intention to solve societal challenges under Horizon 2020, such as health and food production, relies on assumptions about human values that must incorporate ethics. Ethics research can help to address questions such as what makes a good society, and how responsible governments and businesses should behave. According to Leru, ethics should play a central role in Horizon 2020 research. This could include improving research design to incorporate ethical issues at an early stage, as well as using ethics research to ensure scientific research is trusted and accepted by the public. It will also be important to ensure ethics is incorporated in conjunction with other disciplines, rather than remaining isolated within the programme, says Leru. The paper, published on 25 April, was written by ethics scientists to continue Leru’s efforts to ensure the social sciences and humanities are fully incorporated within Horizon 2020.

In previous framework programmes, ethics research was incorporated at too late a stage in research projects, which meant it was mostly used to formulate constraints on scientific developments or assess problems with public acceptance, says the position paper.


May’s Wider Outlook is here!


Welcome to May’s Wider Outlook—the team have chosen the theme of  working with others and collaboration we have identified a number of opportunities including : working with overseas partners, NIHR, Arts related funding, and sandpits.

Our lead article looks at recent collaborative work undertaken by Universities in the US, Canada and Ireland on the impact of Star academics on the wider university academic staff. Enjoy this edition and as ever do contact us with any comments, ideas or suggestions at

March’s Wider Outlook is here!

Welcome to March’s Wider Outlook—

the team have chosen the themes of alternatives to EU research funding and alternatives to research council funding –page one considers alternative sources of funding for developing ideas that could have commercial opportunities. Page two highlights External Project Team events coming up in March and April.

As ever do contact us with any comments, ideas or suggestions at





January’s Wider Outlook is here!

January’s Wider Outlook concentrating on the commercialisation opportunities offered by the Technology Strategy Board and the newly announced Erasmus+ programme – replacing all the European Commission’s lifelong learning programmes is here:


Wider Outlook: December’s edition now here



The External Project’s Team newsletter Wider Outlook for December is now here –

the team has chosen the theme of  Horizon 2020 this month—our annual UK Research Office UKRO event on December 11th will major on the new EU research funding programme –and this month’s edition is full of tips, information and advice to get your project off the ground. As ever do contact us with any comments, ideas or suggestions at




November Wider Outlook

Novembers Wider Outlook is now available

Download the newsletter here

This issue includes:

Page 1 Witty report on HE role in the Economy

Page 2 Review of the Leverhulme Visit to the University

Page 3 In House compliance Audits

Page 4 EU Innovation Indicator

If you have any comments or ideas for future editions we would love to hear from you

October’s Wider Outlook – now here

October’s Wider Outlook – concentrating on Research Council news is now available, there’s also the opportunity to voice your opinion on open access via the University’s response to the HEFCE consultation – deadline October 16th.

If you have any comments or ideas for future editions we would love to hear from you



Welcome to September’s Wider Outlook

Welcome to September’s Wider Outlook—the team have chosen the theme of assessing the past year and looking forward to the coming year –we have some key events on page 2 including a visit from the Leverhulme trust, as well as our annual visit from the UK Research Office (UKRO) in December to bring up to speed with the new EU programmes beginning in 2014.

As ever do contact us with any comments, ideas or suggestions at


August’s Wider Outlook

Wider Outlook Issue 35 August 2013

Welcome to August’s Wider Outlook—the team have chosen the theme of Citizenship, Equalities and Social      Exclusion for this month’s edition.  Starting with a report on 2013 as the European Year of Citizens; looking at   developments in UK’s approach to policy initiatives with the Government’s What Works, evidence based social policy advice centres; and funding available to promote Equalities and Social Justice.

As ever do contact us with any comments, ideas or suggestions at