Ten technologies which could change our lives

3D printer

One of Staffordshire University’s 3D printers presented by Graham Preece, Technical Team Leader

A ‘technological society’; this is the term most of us would choose to describe ourselves in the 21st Century. We use a multitude of devices every day to coordinate our activities and communications at home and in the workplace. Ten technologies which could change our lives, Potential impacts and Policy implications was published last January by the Scientific Foresight (STOA) Unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS).

This report investigates ten scientific and technological trends: Autonomous Vehicles, Graphene, 3D printing, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Virtual currencies (Bitcoin), Wearable technologies, Drones, Aquaponic systems, Smart home technologies and Electricity storage (hydrogen). A summary of each trend is provided followed by an overview of both the ‘expected’ and ‘unexpected’ impacts associated with the trend.

To help Europe to grasp leadership early on in new and emerging technology areas, the European Commission has allocated a provisional budget of 2 696 million euro (239.26 million Euros in 2015) to Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) actions, under Horizon 2020. In order to succeed in this mission, FET focusses on research beyond what is known, accepted or widely adopted.


8th Edition of the BBVA Foundation frontiers of Knowledge awards

2015Nominacion_tcm270-493304World-class research and artistic creation of excellence will be awarded through the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, which will be prizing originality, theoretical significance and ability to push back the frontiers of the known world. Significant achievements are also sought in key challenges of the 21st century: climate change and development cooperation.

Prize categories: Basic Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics), Biomedicine, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Information and Communication Technologies, Economics, Finance and Management, Contemporary Music, Climate Change and Development Cooperation.

Entry conditions: Candidates shall be one or more natural persons of any nationality, without limitation of number in the case of convergent contributions to a given advance. In categories 7 and 8 (climate change or development cooperation), entries are also open to public and not-for-profit organizations. Awards may not be granted posthumously.

A two stages selection process will involve technical evaluation committees and prize juries made up of internationally reputed experts.

Awards: €400,000, a diploma and a commemorative artwork in each prize category.

Deadline for applications: 30/06/2015.

For more information, please go to: http://www.fbbva.es/TLFU/tlfu/ing/microsites/premios/fronteras/presentacion/index.jsp

Enabling Cultures and Diversity in Research Management and Administration


The 21st annual conference of the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA) is taking place in Leiden (Belgium) 28th June – 1st July 2015.

EARMA represents the community of Research Managers and Administrators (RM&As) in Europe, with members from the industry, academia, the public and private sectors. EARMA works with the EU Commission, national and international funding agencies, and provides a networking forum, a learning platform, and a place to share experiences and best practice.

This year the theme for the conference is Global Outreach: Enabling Cultures and Diversity in Research Management and Administration.

This theme reflects the growing need and ambition to reach out and get connected and work together globally. Cooperating not only in the field of scientific research & innovation and higher education but also in the field of research management and administration.

Registrations are now open for early birds: http://www.earma.org/

ESRC: Research seminars and Strategic networks competition 2015/16


The Economic and Social Research Council is supporting Research seminars and Strategic networks through its 2015/2016 annual competition.

Seminars and networks will address groups of academic researchers, postgraduate students and non-academics users from different organisations and sectors (public & private sectors, civil society and research bodies).

It is expected to advance research, to generate and to develop innovative and interdisciplinary collaborations, especially with overseas researchers and stakeholders from Newton countries.

A number of steer are focused on Civil society / Education and Neuroscience / Biosocial research / big data.

Seminar series grants are limited to a maximum justified costing of £30,000 and network grants are limited to a maximum justified costing of £100,000. The closing date for proposals is 16.00 on 8 April 2015.

To apply, please click here.

Funding competition for pre start-ups and SMEs

Innovate UK invites proposals for SMART 2015-2016 – Round 6, to support Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) to engage in R&D projects in strategically important areas: sciences, engineering and technology.

The scheme helps tackling the funding gap experienced by many small and early-stage companies with innovative ideas and high growth ambition and potential.

Three types of grants are available: proof of market, proof of concept and development of prototype. Pre start-ups, start-ups and SMEs from all sectors can apply.

Deadline is Thursday 26 March 2015 at noon.

To know more about it: Smart Round 6

Smart specialisation… Quid est?


Smart specialisation is an innovation policy concept designed to identify the unique economic characteristics and assets of an area (usually a region, or a country) to address emerging opportunities and market developments in a coherent manner….Basically? It means developing and matching the research and innovation strengths of a geographical area to the business needs Rather than being a strategy imposed from above, smart special­isation involves businesses, research centres and universities working together.

EU Legislation:

Smart specialisation is not new, it is in the continuity of the previous funding period (2007-2013). What is new is that the European Commission makes such strategies a pre-condition for ERDF funding. It will be the basis for European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) interventions in R&I, as part of the Cohesion Policy’s contribution to the Europe 2020 jobs and growth agenda (see Regulation (EU) 1301/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013).

In England:

A Smart Specialisation Strategie (S3) has been developed at a national level, but has to be informed locally by the LEP ESIF strategies which need to focus on specific actions in support of innovation. The Government also asked LEPs to consider the development of a specific strategy of Smart Specialisation and particularly encouraged the use the Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) RIS3 guide, available on the Smart Specialisation Platform: http://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/wikis3pguide

Latest news:

on 12 February, speaking at a conference in Riga (Latvia), Charlina Vitcheva, Director of smart and sustainable growth at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional Policy, said that 59 of the 110 plans failed to meet monitoring and evaluation criteria, and lacked a “real vision for transformation”. Most Regions must prepare for failure as well as success, to allow them to take more risks in drafting their plans, and to simply avoid old and repackaged innovation strategies. See more at: https://www.researchprofessional.com/0/rr/news/europe/innovation/2015/2/Smart-specialisation-stalled-by-insufficient-plans.html#sthash.tOhL07id.dpuf

We recommend:

The role of Universities and Research Organisations as drivers for Smart Specialisation at regional level: http://ec.europa.eu/research/regions/documents/publications/ExpertReport-Universities_and_Smart_Spec-WebPublication-A4.pdf

£10 million HEFCE fund to support collaborative research on policing and crime reduction

crime pic

On 28 January 2015, HEFCE announced a new £10 million Police knowledge Fund, administered via its Catalyst Fund and supported jointly with the Home Office.

Established in partnership with the College of Policing, the fund will encourage police forces to collaborate with experts from academic fields such as criminology, economics, neuroscience and computer analytics in order to better understand crimes, to develop innovative ways of policing and more responses to crime.

The call has not been released yet, however more information are expected in due course on the HEFCE website: please click here.

Original isn’t it?

The VolkswagenStiftung Foundation encourages scholars in humanities and cultural studies to embark on groundbreaking originality through the “Original isn’t it?” funding scheme. There are no specific requirements as to what form this originality should take.

UK researchers can apply to Funding line 2 “Constellations”, as part of a project team from both Germany and abroad, comprising up to 4 applicants wishing to work together on a new research idea, to test its feasibility and to publish the results (up to €150,000 for a maximum of 1.5 years).

For more information, please see: https://www.researchprofessional.com/funding/opportunity/1505850/

Wanted: new products in wearable technologies


Businesses are encouraged to address six contest challenges in wearable technologies across the fields of sport and wellbeing, entertainment, hospitality, health and safety, accessibility and design.

Innovate UK will support six businesses up to £35,000 for developing their innovative solution. Successful candidates will trial their technology with major industry players while keeping their intellectual property, as well as receiving promotion, support and advice to speed up the commercialisation of their solution.

To access the challenges, please go to https://interact.innovateuk.org/competition-display-page/-/asset_publisher/RqEt2AKmEBhi/content/wearable-technologies?p_p_auth=HWhVfj5m

Closing deadline: 10th March 2015.


INTERREG EUROPE is the new Interreg IVC programme from 2014 to 2020. More than 800 people met last week (2nd and 3rd December 2014) in Bologna (Italy) for the launch of the new programme. See http://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/research/2014/12/05/launch-of-interreg-europe-in-bologna-2nd-and-3rd-december/

With a total budget of €359 million and 4 priority themes (Research and Innovation / SME competitiveness / Low carbon economy / Environment and resource efficiency), Interreg Europe is dedicated to improving public policies. It will support the design of strategies for influencing policy making in regional priority areas.

Here are 10 key points to take into account for developing a project:

  1. At least 3 countries (of which 2 EU member states at least)
  2. Preferably 5 to 10 partners maximum per project (financial beneficiaries).
  3. Maximum project duration: 5 years (4 years minimum).
  4. Between €1 to €2 million of ERDF per project (75% co financing rate for non-profit private sector / 85% co financing rate for public bodies).
  5. Policy makers, such as Local authorities, are key project partners and they need to be directly involved in the projects.
  6. The Lead partner can only be a public body.
  7. The project governance structure is extremely important: a Regional partnership board has to be set up. It will be composed of the competent organisations in the field tackled by the project. This group will need to be informed about the project development and to be brought into peer review visits, workshops, events, etc.-
  8. 5 budget lines: staff costs, administrative costs, travel & accommodation costs, studies, small equipment (office equipment).
  9. 15% of the envelope will support the administrative costs of the project. A €15,000 lump sum will be provided for the preparation cost. Both won’t need any proof or evidence to be claimed.
  10. The first call for proposals will open in April 2015, and will close in Sept 2015. No geographical criteria, no thematic criteria.

Follow the latest developments on www.interreg4c.eu/interreg-europe

The external projects team is populating a database with all the contacts made at the launch of Interreg Europe. This list will be made available on the CRM system, and it will also be emailed to the Faculties. Alternatively, please contact the external project team to find out more (Marie Pandolfo).