The UK Energy Research Centre has been awarded £1.5 million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop and deliver a Whole Systems Networking Fund, aimed at improving communications and collaboration between whole systems energy researchers and those engaged in  more disciplinary focussed areas of research.

UKERC was invited to lead and develop the fund proposal on behalf of the research community following consultations with senior academics funded by the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, including Directors of Supergen hubs and End Use Energy Demand Centres. The fund has four objectives:

  1. To improve the connections and collaborations between the research communities engaged in whole systems energy research and those engaged in more specific research
  2. To provide mechanisms for collaboration that encourage diversity, with a particular emphasis on providing opportunities for early career researchers
  3. To identify and learn lessons from best practice within the UK and internationally
  4. To work with policy, business and civil society to identify opportunities for wider engagement and impact

UKERC will be holding a series of roadshows across the UK to promote the fund and outline its desired outcomes and evaluation criteria, and launching a series of open calls in Autumn 2017. The fund is governed by a steering group of representatives from the UK energy research community.

The assessment criteria for projects will be finalised by the Steering Group but are likely to reflect the initial criteria highlighted during the consultation phase -

  • Inclusion – Proposals should provide clear evidence that those benefiting from the project are diverse and reflects the composition of the communities impacted.
  • Inter-disciplinarity – Proposals should demonstrate that any funds requested are designed to build effective bridges between individual disciplines or fields, and that they link their activities clearly to the whole energy system
  • Development – A core aspect of the project should be the development of the participants’ skills, particularly through mentoring
  • Scope of change – Proposals must demonstrate concrete ways in which change can be delivered across a wide audience, with a particular focus on developing new interdisciplinary connections within the academic community
  • Engagement and dissemination – Proposals must include an outline communications and engagement plan and timeline
  • Innovation – Proposals bringing novel approaches or new participants/audiences will be particularly welcome
  • Linkage to broader activities – Proposals must include direct involvement with UKERC team to both provide support and better positioning within the research landscape