October 2, 2019, by Rob Ounsworth

Interdisciplinary Research Clusters: supporting the University’s vision for delivering world-class research

An initial portfolio of 15 Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (IRCs) has been selected to further develop the University’s vision for delivering world-class research.

The IRCs will refresh the University’s research ecosystem, refocus our commitment to interdisciplinary discovery and offer agile responses to UK and global challenges and funding opportunities.

The IRCs each align to one of the University’s Global Research Themes (GRTs) and will build upon the success of Research Priority Areas (RPAs) in encouraging colleagues to collaborate across our schools and faculties, and in attracting funding.

The IRCs will run for three years, with each receiving £10,000 for the first year, and they will be able to bid for additional funding. The IRC portfolio is expected to grow to 20 by Christmas, and up to a maximum of 25.

IRC portfolio

The IRCs process

 The process for establishing IRCs is managed by the five GRT leads:

The GRT leads draw on input from Faculty Associate Pro-Vice Chancellors for Research, Vice-Provosts at University of Nottingham Ningbo China (Professor Patrick Chau) and University of Nottingham Malaysia (Professor Deborah Hall) and Directors of the University’s six Beacons of Excellence.

From April to June, GRT leads held discussions with RPA leads and identified additional areas and leaders to bring forward new IRC proposals. Some RPAs put forward an IRC concept, others joined forces for a bid, some decided not to transition to an IRC, having been successful as an RPA.

IRCs are created following submission of business cases to a panel made up of GRT leads, Faculty Associate Pro-Vice Chancellors for Research and Research and Innovation’s Head of Strategy Dr Elizabeth French.

More on the IRCs programme

Delivering the goals of our research strategy

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange, said: “Interdisciplinary Research Clusters will build upon the University’s successful Research Priority Areas.

“Since 2014 £5m has been invested in the Global Research Theme/RPA programme. We are moving from shaping and implementing our renewed research strategy to an emphasis on delivery, with an expectation that IRCs will contribute to delivering our goals for research:

  • Quality: enhance the quality by 40%, reach top 5 in the UK, top 60 global university​​
  • Funding: enhance our funding by 50%, increasing our research portfolio to £750m ​​
  • Impact: drive a step-change in the impact of our research and to prepare for REF2021
  • Reputation: enhance the reputation of Nottingham through its research and impact”
Professor Dame Jessica Corner

Professor Dame Jessica Corner: “This is an opportunity to further focus our strengths in interdisciplinary research, while also more closely aligning our research portfolio to UK priorities.”

Dame Jessica added: “Going forward, we will review the IRC portfolio and ask: What’s missing? Are there gaps across our Global Research Themes? What interventions from interdisciplinary teams will make a difference?”

Any groups with IRC applications not agreed at this stage, may be given further consideration following further developmental discussions with the relevant GRT leads.

For other discretionary funds to support research projects, such as hosting sandpits, please contact the appropriate GRT lead.

Dame Jessica added: “The funding landscape remains challenging. We must remain alert to external opportunities and agile in our responses, and the new IRC portfolio will better position the University to meet emerging challenges and develop the ‘big ideas’ which research councils are looking for.

“The IRCs are an evolution and like the RPAs emerged from our own networks. This is an opportunity to further focus our strengths in interdisciplinary research, while also more closely aligning our research portfolio to UK priorities.”

More information 

Please contact the relevant GRT lead(s) for more information:

For support on process, please contact Interdisciplinary Research Project Manager Maria Richards.



Posted in research