Following the 1996 RAE, the University undertook a complete review of its research strategy, resulting in a new strategy being approved by the Board of Governors in November 1997.
This strategy delivered significant success, not least in the 2001 RAE, and a new Strategic
Framework for Research 2001-06 was approved by Academic Board in May 2001. However, changes post-RAE in the funding methodology together with a new landscape of Higher
Education envisaged in the White Paper of January 2003 have necessitated a re-thinking of previous strategies. The Research Strategy outlined in this paper replaces all previous strategies.
In order to maintain a modern and relevant curriculum and to foment a lively academic community, the University expects and facilitates the engagement of all academic staff in outcome-driven scholarship and research. This also provides the base from which the
University develops selectively research of national and international levels of excellence, in order to make a full contribution to the region’s social and economic prosperity. The University promotes and develops scholarship and research in alignment with curriculum development through its Academic Schools; strategic research is developed selectively to international levels of excellence through Research Institutes.
The following core principles support the University’s research vision:
3.1. The University affirms that research and scholarship (see Appendix 1 for definitions) are part of its core business.
3.2. The University is committed to making a major contribution to the social and economic prosperity of the West Midlands with its programmes of applied research, technology transfer and consultancy.
3.3. The undergraduate and postgraduate curricula depend on the research and scholarship activities of university staff to maintain currency, relevance and excellence in all aspects. From this follow two corollaries:
All staff engaged in teaching are active in scholarship (see also Learning and Teaching Strategy)
The University seeks to capitalise on staff research expertise by incorporating, where possible, such expertise into the curriculum
3.5. The University supports high-quality staff research selectively and in line with its strategic priorities.
3.6. The University expects all research-active staff to sustain and develop their research through regular and well-crafted funding applications to external agencies.
3.7. The University relies on senior researchers and the University Professoriate to provide visible and proactive research leadership.
4.1. Academic Schools support and ensure staff scholarship, in line with curriculum developments and requirements of professional practice (including learning/teaching).
4.2. In addition to supporting and promoting staff scholarship, Academic Schools support high quality research through active collaborations with Research Institutes, as well as through external collaborations.
4.3. In line with emerging strategic priorities and curriculum developments, Schools will also foster the development of new, high-quality research groups/units where such research is not covered by existing Research Institutes.
4.4. Schools and Research Institutes work proactively together to ensure that developments and capacities remain as closely aligned as possible and to guard against RI priorities diverging significantly from School priorities.
5.1. Research Institutes are the vehicle through which the University selectively supports staff research.
5.2. Research Institutes work collaboratively and synergistically with academic Schools, helping to promote Schools’ reputation and profile and to contribute to academic and professional developments.
5.3. Research Institutes are periodically reviewed by Academic Board through URC.
5.4. The establishment of a Research Institute is authorised by Academic Board, upon a recommendation from the University Research Committee that the proposed Institute meets the criteria outlined below.
5.5. Criteria for designation as a Research Institute include:
A clear mission that complements and extends the University’s mission and priorities
An established research capacity, including an appropriate critical mass of researchers, and a proven track record in achieving high-quality publications and attracting external funding
Ability to meet the threshold standards for postgraduate research degree programmes
A clear articulation of external partners and stakeholders
A robust and realistic business plan, including identifiable income streams.
6.1. The University values postgraduate research students both as part of its commitment to developing the next generation of scholars and because of the contributions such students make to the University’s research efforts.
6.2. The University is committed to providing an excellent research environment for its postgraduate research students, in keeping with national expectations of threshold standards
6.3. With its support, the University expects postgraduate research students to complete their research degrees within an appropriate and stipulated period of time.
6.4. In order to ensure the quality of the student experience, postgraduate research students are normally located within th e University’s Research Institutes.
6.5. Provided that the University Research Committee is assured that threshold standards are met either solely within the University or through collaborative agreements with other bodies, research students may also be based in academic schools.
7.1. It is the responsibility of all research active staff to be aware of funding opportunities for their area and to actively pursue external support for their research.
The University aspires to receive research funding from all major funding bodies both national and international.
The Graduate School is the central resource within the University for providing information on local, national and international research funding bodies. It holds application forms, guidelines, contact names and other useful background information on the UK Research Councils, large UK charities, the EU (particularly DG Research) and other funding bodies working internationally such as the British Council and the
European Science Foundation.
The University provides, through the Graduate School, a programme of educational opportunities for research active staff to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge required for the successful preparation and submission of research projects.
All grant applications and bids leaving the University must be of good quality and must be approved by the appropriate body(ies) within the University.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
1. The University defines
according to the ‘Frascati’ definition:
Research and experimental development (R&D) comprise creative work undertaken
2. on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man [
], culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.
R & D is a term covering three activities: basic research, applied research, and experimental development. Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.
Applied research is also original investigation undertaken to acquire new knowledge.
It is, however, directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective.
Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, that is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed.
is defined as follows:
Scholarship contributes to the creation, development and maintenance of the intellectual infrastructure of subjects, disciplines and professional practice through activities such as keeping informed of ongoing discoveries by others, engaging in debates that such discoveries engender, and contributing to editions, reviews, textbooks, catalogues, etc.
As such, it is a necessary pre-requisite of all research as well as of good teaching.
Scholarship as defined by the University also carries an expectation of active involvement rather than mere passive reception, and therefore has identifiable outcomes which should be disseminated as appropriate.
FP6 is the European Community Framework Programme for Research, Technological
Development and Demonstration, which is a collection of the actions at EU level to fund and promote research. The main objective of the programme is to contribute to the creation of the
European Research Area (ERA) by improving integration and co-ordination of research in
Europe, which so far is largely fragmented. At the same time research will be targeted at strengthening the competitiveness of the European economy, solving major societal questions and supporting the formulation and implementation of other EU policies. Activities under FP6 have to be conducted in compliance with ethical principles, including those reflected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Furthermore they should strive both to increase the role of women in research and to improve information for, and dialogue with, society. An element of FP6 of particular relevance to the University is the encouragement of the ability of research to respond to the special needs of SMEs.
The framework covers the period 2003-2005, and there are 17,5 billion euros available to support research and technological development in the EU.
FP6 funding is delivered through 7 thematic areas, which have various instruments or funding regimes, plus a number of cross-cutting support programmes (see Explanatory Notes for
All of the
priorities with the possible exception of Priority 4 Aeronautics and
Space are relevant to the University’s research experience and expertise and these should be targeted through the publications of calls for proposals for each programme.
Favourable instruments are the
s, which should be chosen as an instrument if the
particular call for proposals will allow it, and researchers will be encouraged and supported to use STREPs as the most manageable instrument in terms of our capacity as a research community.
Colleagues with established international links should target the
programmes, which offer the opportunity of joint research between Member States, Associated
Countries and the rest of the world
Of particular relevance and importance to the University are the
schemes. All of the Marie Curie actions are relevant to the University’s research portfolio with the possible exception of re-integration grants, which entail significant University legal and financial commitments.
projects enable the University to capitalise on its SME relationships, and are usually supported through the University’s Department for Innovation and External
Due to the complexity, size and requirements for institutional commitment to research in a changing environment, it is recommended that the University acts as a partner organisation in
(Networks of Excellence) and
s (Integrated Programmes) rather than taking the role of a co-ordinator in these instruments.
Explanatory Notes on FP6
1. The seven thematic priorities
The seven thematic priorities cover those areas where the EU in the medium term intends to become the most competitive and dynamic, knowledge
–based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. As one of the measures to implement the international dimension of FP6, these activities are open to participation by organisations from third countries with substantial funding included in the budget.
a) Life sciences, Genomics and Biotechnology for Health
Integrating post-genomic research into the more established biomedical and biotechnological approaches.
Involvement of key stakeholders from industry, healthcare providers and physicians, policy makers, patient associations and experts on ethical matters.
Thematic areas: Advanced genomics and its application for health; Combating major diseases
b) Information Society Technologies
Direct contribution to European policies for the knowledge society and the be-Europe Action Plan; future generation of technologies integrating computers and networks into the everyday environment.
Thematic areas: Applied IST research addressing major societal and economic challenges; Communication, computing and software technologies; Components and Microsystems; Knowledge and interface technologies;
IST future and emerging technologies
c) Nano-technologies and nano-sciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials, new production processes and devices
Contribution to the creation of the scientific base for the transition of European production industry from resource based towards knowledge based, more environmentally friendly approaches.
Thematic areas: Nano-technologies and nano-sciences; Knowledge based multifunctional materials; New production processes and devices
d) Aeronautics and space
Concentrating RTD efforts in the context of the Advisory Council for Aeronautics research in Europe
Thematic areas: Aeronautics; Space
e) Food quality and safety
Improve health and well-being of European consumers through a higher quality of food, improved control of food production and of related environmental factors
Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems
Strengthening the S&T capacities needed for Europe to be able to implement a sustainable development model, integrating its social, economic and environmental dimensions
Thematic areas: Sustainable energy systems; Sustainable surface transport; Global change and ecosystems
g) Citizens and Governance in a knowledge
Mobilisation of European research in economic, political, social sciences and humanities that are necessary to develop and understanding of, and to address issues related to, the emergence of knowledge
–based society and new forms of relationships between its citizens on the one hand and between its citizens and institutions, on the other.
Thematic areas: Knowledge based society and social cohesion; improving the general distribution and use of knowledge and its impact on economic and social development; Citizenship, democracy and new forms of governance
2. FP6 instruments
There are a number of different instruments for multipartner research activities, individual and host driven mobility schemes, special types of projects for SMES, support for large-scale infrastructures, etc.
Not all instruments apply across the whole programme. The calls for proposals will indicate in detail which instruments are used for which research objectives.
2.1 Network of excellence (NoE)
These are multipartner projects aimed at strengthening scientific and technological excellence on a particular research topic by integrating at European level the critical mass of resources and expertise needed to provide
European leadership and to be a world force in a given domain. This expertise will be networked around a joint programme of activities, which are aimed at creating durable integration. The research itself is not the main focus.
The main result should be a durable restructuring and reshaping of the way research is carries out in Europe in a given area.
It is a requirement that participation institutions have to invest seriously in structural change and commitment needs to be made at executive level in case of a University co-ordinating the Network. Therefore, given the present expertise, capacity and capabilities of the University it is advisable that NoE should be approached in the role of a participant rather than a co-ordinator.
2.2 Integrated Project (IP)
IPs are multipartner projects to support objective-driven research, where the primary deliverable is generating the knowledge required to implement the thematic priorities. They must contain a research component and may contain technological development and demonstration components as well as a training component. The objective is to create the necessary critical mass for focused medium-term scientific breakthroughs that lead to major improvements in terms of global competitiveness and quality of life.
The value of activities integrated by a project is expected to range up to tens of millions of euros.
It is advisable that the university acts as a partner in IP rather than taking on the overall co-ordination of the project.
2.3 Specific Targeted Research Projects (STREP)
STREPs are multipartner research demonstration or innovation projects. They are an evolved form of the shared-cost
RTD projects and demonstration projects used in FP5.Their purpose is to support research activities on a more limited scope and ambition than IPs.
They are designed to generate new knowledge, either improving existing or developing new products, processes and services and/or by proving the viability of new technologies offering potential economic advantage.
2.6 Specific research projects for SMEs: Co-operative research projects (CRAFT)
These are projects whereby a number of SMEs (minimum three SMEs from two different countries) having specific problems or needs assign a significant part of the required scientific and technological research activities to universities and other RDT performers.
2.5 Specific measures in support of International Co-operation (INCO-DEV)
These measures cover specific international co-operation activities (INCO) with selected groups of countries
(Developing Countries, Mediterranean Partner Countries, Western Balkan countries, Russia and the NIS based on mutual interest and in support of EU external policy.
Conditions, thematic areas and budget details applying for the different groups of countries will be specified in the work programmes.
The INCO actions are of particular relevance to research active staff that have established international links and partnerships and wish to replicate research activities overseas.
2.6 Specific programmes Structuring the European Research Area
2.6.1. Marie Curie Actions
Particularly relevant to the University is the Human resources and Mobility (Marie Curie Actions) programme.
These actions provide a variety of possibilities for individual researchers in different stages of their career as well as for institutions acting as hosts to these researchers. There is no age limit; access to the different schemes is regulated by the definition of categories of experience (early-stage researchers means researchers within the first 4 years of research activity; experienced researchers are defined as those having at least 4 years of experience or holding a PhD degree. Some actions are open to experienced researchers with no more than
10 years research experience. The Marie Curie Actions typically require transnational mobility, i.e. a researcher cannot apply for a fellowship in his/her country of origin or residence.
The objectives of Marie Curie actions are to create a critical research mass in Europe, which will be instrumental in strengthening and consolidating the European Research Area (ERA). The scheme promotes the training and mobility of researchers to and from other European countries as well as third countries at different stages in their career and is fundamental to the achievement of 3% GDP investment in research in Europe.
There are two types of schemes under Marie Curie: host driven actions and individual actions. The host driven actions provide structured training for researchers in the early stages of their career and enable the development and transfer of competences in research. These include training networks, fellowships and conferences and training courses. In this category, organisations submit proposals to the Commission.
In the case of the individual-driven actions, an individual researcher prepares and submits the proposal together with a hosting institution. The aim of these actions is to help experienced researchers to develop specialised or complementary knowledge and expertise.