Science City Research Alliance Fellows
SCRA received a £9.6m investment from the Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE) Strategic Development Fund to fund a group of high-calibre Research Fellows around its programme themes of advanced materials, energy futures and translational medicine.
There were 22 Fellows in the first intake, making use of shared research infrastructure and facilities at both the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick. Fellows had the unique opportunity to work for two institutions at once. Each Fellow had a home institution and an honorary appointment at the other, frequently in different departments or even faculties, to assist inter-disciplinary projects.
Individually, the Fellows had already established themselves as excellent researchers. They had been prolific in publishing high-quality research publications and had also won funding from research councils. Several Fellows had been invited to present lectures to key research audiences or through conference committees, showing a growing recognition of their work.
The best SCRA Fellow research frequently reached beyond its pre-defined boundaries. Even at an early stage, Fellows' activities were impacting areas beyond their own academic disciplines. Several Fellows created research partnerships with high-technology businesses. Through these, the two universities filed new patents to exploit the commercial opportunities of the research. Many Fellows became STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassadors, working with young people to encourage their interest in science.
Perhaps most importantly, collaborations were formed between those Fellows working together to develop new research proposals and sharing techniques and ideas between disciplines, showing the benefit of strategically injecting posts for early-career researchers to scholarship, innovation and the generation of new intellectual capital.
The HEFCE funding provided a unique opportunity for both universities to attract early-career researchers and to support them in developing not only their research, but relationships between academia and business, and across academic institutional boundaries.
SCRA Fellows with Director of SCRA, Professor Chris McConville and former Director Professor Pam Thomas.