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Research and Innovation Strategy - our vision

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What is now proved was once only imagined - William Blake

Create sector-leading, applied research

Our research will offer innovative solutions to societal and economic challenges, working closely with business, industry, the public sector, third sector, policy-makers, cultural organisations and communities. This research will be adaptive, agile enough to respond to the demands of a changing world and always focussing on areas of need.

We will:

  • support high-quality research, recognised as internationally excellent or world-leading, and encourage research with potential to achieve at these levels
  • build research collaborations with our business and industry networks and through governmental, public sector and academic partnerships; regionally, across the UK and internationally
  • identify pathways to impact in all research areas, including business innovation, knowledge transfer, policy development, continuing professional development and academic teaching, with an effective system for recording and evaluating impact
  • ensure equality and diversity is embedded in all aspects of our research practice, support and recognition, measured against benchmarks including Athena SWAN

Develop centres of innovation, excellence and collaboration

By establishing centres of excellence in the University’s six areas of academic strength, we will lead high-quality research aligned to – but going beyond – Research Excellence Framework units of assessment. Through sustained, interdisciplinary research, designed to produce impact, we will identify and develop new synergies between research questions, methodologies and practices.

We will:

  • create Research Institutes to lead and coordinate faculty research and innovation activities, establishing distinctive research themes and working closely with external partners across academia, business and the public sectors
  • concentrate strategic investment to develop sector-leading research profiles in key specialisms within our six areas of academic strength
  • drive cross - and interdisciplinary research to strengthen and broaden current research and to create new core areas of research, with a focus on impact

Provide a research-led curriculum for active learning

Our research and professional practice will inform all levels of teaching, ensuring the relevance and competitiveness of our taught courses. We will ensure that all students gain insight into the research and professional practice of staff as a model for their own learning.

We will:

  • create opportunities at all levels of study for students to undertake activities relevant to the research specialisms and professional expertise of academic staff
  • offer learning and assessment methods that explore research methodologies, identifying research questions and pursuing academic inquiry, analysis and reflection
  • align our taught postgraduate programmes to our research and innovation strengths, strengthening our taught postgraduate offer and providing career development for our graduates

Promote a dynamic research environment, reaching out to our external partners and audiences

The profile of our research will be raised through a proactive and engaging media presence, and by building our relationship with external organisations, academic networks and the wider public. Our lively campus research environment will host research-led events of international significance, increase opportunities for staff and doctorial students to present and debate and offer an inclusive and supportive environment to our research partners.

We will:

  • showcase and celebrate our research institutes, networks, students and staff through symposia, the press, social media and the web including our institutional research repository SURE
  • engage in research collaborations with international partners through staff mobility and exchange schemes, linked to postgraduate research portfolio and the activities of our transnational education partners where possible
  • continue to augment our dynamic research environment, with international conferences and events, increased numbers of postgraduate research students, and by developing our network of fellows and visiting professors
  • provide excellent resources and support for postgraduate research students, creating opportunities for collaboration, networking and sharing work in appropriate external forums


Drive entrepreneurial, commercial and income-generating activity

With a long-term plan for strategic investment, we will enhance areas of strength that offer clear USPs for the University, respond to regional need and address wider societal, economic and cultural opportunities.  Our Directorate for Enterprise and Innovation will provide expert guidance and support that maximises opportunities for externally-funded research, innovation and knowledge exchange.

We will:

  • ensure our research is aligned to external funding agencies and commerce, achieving a return on the investment of staff research time, internal funding and Research Office support
  • exploit the relationships between the publication and dissemination of research and opportunities for commercial activity through spin-out and the licencing of intellectual property
  • facilitate knowledge exchange, commercial and consultation activities through staff appraisal, workload planning and Enterprise and Innovation support
  • promote postgraduate research through engagement with business, industry and the public sectors


Develop and nurture our academic staff

To help create a dynamic research culture across our three campuses, we will offer a dedicated research support programme and ensure there is an effective use of research time supported by internal and external funding. We will encourage academic staff at all levels to undertake ambitious, innovative and rigorous research.

We will:

  • actively manage and support all individual research and innovation activities through an annual planning process related to allocated research time
  • develop our early career academic staff and researchers through a mentoring and support scheme, increasing research output, funding applications and PGR completions 
  • build the research profile of our subject areas, recruiting academic staff with a track-record of excellent research and recognising success through regular and transparent promotion opportunities
  • provide opportunities for staff to pursue research degree programmes
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