Capital Award emphasising support for Early Career Researchers

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Biosciences


The University of Exeter's Research and Impact Strategy focuses on cultivating a world-class environment and continuing to increase the quality and impact of our research. We will achieve this by growing our academic community, and investing in new initiatives to create opportunities for researchers to excel in the global research field. Our investments in our research environment are tailored for our particular staff profile, which has a significiant early career researcher (ECR) cohort, with an overall earlier career population of over thirty percent of our total research community.

The investment of an EPSRC ECRs Capital Award at Exeter will align with this strategic approach, establishing a distinctive, unique mechanism for our ECR community to obtain capital equipment funding. The Capital Award at Exeter will specifically support ECRs in the delivery of novel research and the establishment of independent research careers.

The University is committed to the implementation of appropriate and co-ordinated governance and monitoring structures for all our funded activity. This proposal has been designed to work in harmony with our existing organisational practices, to provide clarity and efficiency. We will utilise a call-based approach, with published and transparent criteria for assessment, to ensure that we are able to fulfil the aims and objectives of this initiative and to ensure that we are able to support initiatives that demonstrate the highest quality and the capability to develop novel research directions. We value the diversity of our ECRs and are committed to providing a fair, equitable and mutually supportive environment. We have a dedicated Equality and Diversity team that ensures a University-wide integrated approach to equality and diversity, and a member of that team will be involved in the decision-making process for the scheme. We will monitor equality and diversity throughout our application process for EPSRC Capital Equipment Funds.

The process will be overseen by the University of Exeter EPSRC Strategy Group, which includes members of the engineering and physical sciences research community from across the institution. They will be fully supported by Research Services.

Through our management of an award, Exeter will support approximately five EPSRC Capital Equipment Awards of £30-35k for high-quality, novel ECR-led research equipment. To support and encourage interdisciplinary working, we envisage that combined awards, up to £60K, may also be funded where teams of ECRs come together to apply.

In awarding EPSRC ECR Capital Awards at Exeter, (see below planned process) we will select only high-quality research, or those applicants demonstrating the ambitious potential for research in a new area, within the remit of the EPSRC. All users will be expected to show how the equipment purchased will be used for research within the scope of the EPSRC either from existing EPSRC funded projects or to work towards applications to the EPSRC for funding.

Planned Impact

To accelerate independent research careers, individual research projects and their associated impacts, Exeter's EPSRC Strategy Group will distribute the Capital Fund to up to five ECRs (or groups of ECRs).

We envisage a diverse range of equipment will be applied for and funded, particularly given our broad approach to the promotion of the scheme and the support mechanisms that will be in place to work with applicants.

The impacts will therefore be varied but we anticipate impact in the following areas:

Knowledge - New knowledge will be created through the research carried out on the equipment purchased using this award. The allocation of the funding will prioritise bids that increase access to and development and advancement of; cutting edge technologies; digital and sustainable manufacturing tools, systems, and products; and the optimisation of the design process. We will actively encourage ECRs with specialist skills and projects aligned to the UKRI and EPSRCs strategic goals to engage with the bidding process.

Economy - Access to specialist equipment will play a vital role, as part of our wider facilities, in enabling research that contributes to the UK's competitiveness and the proposed equipment should enhance our Research and Development capability and productivity.

People and Society - The University of Exeter is passionate about involving the public throughout our research and we encourage people to take part in all aspects of our research projects; from shaping questions to sharing the benefits of research that makes a difference. Capitalising on the existing skill base of individuals, and ensuring they have access to and training in new cutting-edge techniques, is vital to the continued sustainability and growth of the UK's position on the global research stage, and for ECRs to enhance their research impact.


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