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Funding boost for collaborative research at Welsh universities

Over £100,000 has been awarded this month to sixteen research and innovation projects across Welsh universities via the Wales Innovation Network’s small grant fund.

The fund aims to harness the strengths of Welsh universities to support growth in external research income capture and deliver impact for Wales. Grants are provided as seed funding for the development of a bid to external funders within the UK or internationally.

Collaboration is a focal point of the fund; each project selected involves partnerships between three or more Welsh universities and most include partnerships with external stakeholders such as local authorities, health boards, government, industry, and community. The projects focus on a diverse range of areas including food security, health inequalities, cybersecurity, and cultural heritage.

This funding builds on the success of the 2023 round of the WIN small grants fund (which was funded jointly with Global Wales) with over £9 million generated in external funding bids.

Lewis Dean, Head of WIN, said:

“The quality of bids in this year’s round of the small grant fund has been encouraging to see, with universities working together to submit very strong applications. I’m delighted that we have been able to award over £100k through our small grant fund to support collaborative research in Wales.

“Welsh research was recognised in REF 2021 for its positive impact on communities in Wales, the UK and across the world. I’m, therefore, particularly pleased that we have funded projects involving partners from local authorities, health boards, government, industry, and community groups to continue to deliver impactful research.

“WIN was established to strengthen research and innovation in Wales through collaboration and, after the success of last year’s small grant funding, I’m excited to see the outcomes of this year’s as we support our universities to build these partnerships.”

Project examples

Aberystwyth University
Cymru Vertical Farming
Cardiff Metropolitan University, Swansea University, Vertikit Ltd

This project will explore vertical farming, controlled environment agriculture, food security and agri-food technologies.

Bangor University
Sustainable Food Cymru
University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea University, University of South Wales, Cardiff University, Imperial College London, City University of London, Oxford Unviersity, 24 non-academic partners including Future Generations Commissioner, Food Sense Wales, Sustainable Food Trust

This project will look to establish how local food production might address issues such as climate change, soil degradation, water quality and biodiversity on food security, including community food pathways and holistic food system change.

Cardiff Metropolitan University
Wales Ageing Well Practitioner-Research Network
University of South Wales, Swansea University, Cardiff and Vale UHB Public Health Team, Cardiff Wellbeing Support Service

Multidisciplinary research projects will be developed that positively impact quality of health ageing later in life, with a focus on diverse ethnic communities in Wales.

Cardiff University
Wales Active Travel and Equitable Transportation Transdisciplinary Research Hub
Bangor University, Swansea University, University of South Wales, Aberystwyth  University, ten non-academic partners including Cycling UK Cymru, Transport for Wales, Cross-party group on active travel, Public Health Wales, Welsh Youth Parliament

Building on the successful outcome of the ATLAS project which received funding inthe 2023 round of the WIN small grant fund, this project aims to develop a hub to evidence and inform policy and practice for active travel and equitable transportation, which are key priorities in the Welsh Transport Strategy.

Cardiff University
Innovating Assistive Tech for Dementia
Bangor University, Swansea University, Aberystwyth University, Wolverhampton University, Exeter University, Bristol University, nine non-academic partners including Social Care Wales, Alzheimer’s Society Cymru, Wales Arts Health & Wellbeing Network

This research will explore how assistive technologies can support people with dementia lead independent lives and participate in leisure activities, with a focus on how it can reach all rural and urban environments, including underrepresented groups.

Swansea University
Re-Imagining Entrepreneurial Skills
Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, University of South Wales, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Glasgow University, De Montfort University, 13 external partners including Federation of Small Businesses, Tata Steel

This project draws together a consortium, working with TATA Steel, associated companies, workers, and communities, to develop solutions to the economic and social disruption caused by the closure of TATA Steel. It will be based on the Green Transition and Regional Industrial Strategy, linked to entrepreneurship, knowledge transfer, supply chain management, skills development and economic resilience.

University of South Wales
IntelliCAV Wales Consortium
Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh, University of the West of England, Mohammed VI Polytechnic Morocco

This project will focus on the next generation of connected and autonomous vehicles, with an aim to develop a network which is multidisciplinary including cybersecurity, intelligent systems, connected mobility and reputation management.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Wales and its Global Literary Culture
Cardiff University, Bangor University

This project will focus on literary Wales and its international standing and connectivity through translation, publishing and collaboration with an aim to map and track how the work is circulated and received worldwide.

Wrexham University
Storytelling as a method for change in health, care and wellbeing services in Wales
Cardiff University, Swansea University, University of South Wales, University of Durham, 14 non-academic partners including North Wales Regional Partnership Board, local councils, Betsi Cadwaldr University Health Board

The project will build a national research network of academic, policy makers, public and third sector to mainstream the use of studies to support evidence-informed practice and decision making in health, social care and well-being settings. It will test existing practices, generate evidence of what works and share knowledge and skills.

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