2015 annual report

2015 was a busy year for the network, sharing knowledge derived from both research and practical experience to generate new information and solutions for the built environment and infrastructure sectors. Priority was given to:

  • strengthening engagement across the built environment sector
  • facilitating the uptake of research evidence into policy and practice
  • informing the strategic research agenda.

Top ten for 2015

Meeting evidence requirements…

  1. Theme-focused initiatives stimulated cross-project synergies and strengthened links stakeholders.
  2. Science-policy/practice dialogues stimulate the broader understanding of scientific evidence and its implications.
  3. Promoting co-production of outputs through joint working opportunities between researchers and stakeholders.
  4. Improved discovery and accessibility of research outputs – advice and guidance on best practice.

Strengthening knowledge exchange…

  1. Our evidence and knowledge exchange website is complemented by a monthly newsletter and Twitter feed.
  2. Capturing the value of the network identifies, develops and shares good practice in knowledge exchange and engagement
  3. Mapping further evidence needs and capacity building requirements draws on our expert knowledge.

Developing the community…

  1. Skills development for early career researchers workshops focused on the skills needed to respond to research calls.
  2. Promoting engagement across the community includes working links with projects, stakeholders and a range of professional bodies and agencies.

And for the future…

  1. Along with planned events we have flexibility to respond to emerging needs.

Top ten in detail

Meeting evidence requirements

  1. Theme-focused initiatives stimulated cross-project synergies on specific themes, and strengthened links with a wide range of stakeholders. Our topics for 2015 were chosen to meet emerging research, policy and practice requirements for synthesised evidence and information, while partnerships with external organisations broadened our audience and impact.
Activity/participants Partner (potential) impact
Adaptation in the energy sector
Workshop: 25 technical users Heriot Watt University Explored how new result outputs could be used
Policy briefing: 20 central government and practice National Grid/ENA Synthesised key messages to inform policy/strategy
Contaminated land and extreme weather conditions
Workshops: 45 local stakeholders plus national agencies. CIRIA Illustrated the research available and its potential use in the local context
Overheating and indoor air quality in new homes
Workshop: 80 industry and academic experts Homes and Community Agency Helping to map the latest research and its potential use
Infrastructure and interdependencies
Workshop: 70 non-academic stakeholders/CIRIA members CIRIA Encouraged research projects to synthesise messages on cross-cutting issues
Architecture and resilience on a human scale
Conference session: Disrupting the incumbent city of the future – researchers Future Cities catapult Community building with new subject audience
Resilience of Scottish Infrastructure
Workshop: 25 policy-makers, practitioners and researchers ClimateXchange, Adaptation Scotland Identified further evidence and capacity building needs – towards new research proposals
Heritage buildings
2x workshops: heritage & historic environment representative bodies Historic Scotland/NERC Raised awareness and explored knowledge and evidence gaps that could be informed by ARCC.
  1. Science-policy/practice dialogues are longer-term initiatives to stimulate the broader understanding of scientific evidence and its implications in critical areas. For 2015:
  • Working with the Feeling Good Foundation, the Feeling Good in Public Spaces seminar series explores how people’s senses are affected by the design of public spaces and buildings. Six evening events are planned; the first, on Human physiology, psychology and place-making (with the Wellcome Trust) attracted wide interest from a new audience of designers, energy managers and public health professionals.
  • The Infrastructure dependencies and interdependencies dialogue with the Environment Agency’s Infrastructure Operators Adaptation Forum continues to engage with central government and infrastructure practitioners to better understand the overall interdependencies landscape, and the resulting challenges and opportunities.
  1. Promoting co-production of outputs through joint working opportunities between researchers and those looking to use academic outputs. This rolling initiative provides funds for small projects to increase impact and awareness, build capacity and develop skills in delivering and using evidence from existing EPSRC-funded research. Two projects, on the challenges of financing public sector adaptation projects (with iBUILD, ClimateXchange & Adaptation Scotland) and building flood resilience for SMEs (with CREW and the Environment Agency) were completed in 2015. Work also started on two new studies: developing an integrated flood modelling approach for local flood risk assessment (with Blue-Green cities and BMT WBM) and peer-to-peer learning for Local Authorities on climate resilience for older people (with BIOPICCC and Catherine Max).
  1. Improved discovery and accessibility of research outputs, including after the end of a project, enables greater uptake and use of data and evidence. We identified how best the ARCC network could help researchers manage their outputs to meet EPSRC and institutional requirements. Advice and guidance has been issued on: managing research outputs including data management plans; the Researchfish reporting system; website legacy; and on meeting funders’ expectations. Given the complex landscape, we have decided to focus on a strategic liaison role, working to ensure researchers are aware of, and have the knowledge to respond to, data and information requirements and opportunities.

Strengthening knowledge exchange

  1. Our evidence and knowledge exchange website provides information on research activities, events and funding opportunities. This is complemented by a focused monthly e-newsletter (650 recipients, 60% researchers, 40% users) and an increasingly popular Twitter feed (450 followers) for the rapid dissemination of targeted information.

A new series of So what? Now what? guides promote the results of new research findings, and has been particularly successful in accelerating the sharing of research outputs. 14 Guides have been published to date, on subjects ranging from overheating in domestic buildings to carbon capture and storage. This integrated dissemination approach builds engagement and enhances visibility across the network.

  1. Capturing the value of the network identifies, develops and shares good practice in knowledge exchange and stakeholder engagement and has been developed within the ARCC network to share what we have learned. We are working with Eclipse Research Consultants as a response to a recommendation from the 2014 EPSRC Review of the ARCC and SUE programmes – ‘EPSRC should look to identify good practice in establishing collaborations and impact activities, and publish and promote widely, drawing upon the experience of the ARCC Coordination Network’. Our aim is to share lessons learnt with other knowledge exchange networks and funding agencies.
  1. Mapping further evidence needs and capacity building requirements is an on-going process integrated with many existing network activities, helping to both influence the direction of the network and inform wider strategic research agenda discussions. Drawing on expert knowledge, we were asked to inform the RCUK/Innovate UK Urban Living Partnership, the NERC Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme, the EPSRC Engineering Prioritisation Panel, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation District heating – Delivering affordable and sustainable energy call, the EPSRC Low Carbon Cities programme, and the UK Research Councils risk research activities workshop.

Developing the community

  1. Skills development for early career researchers (ECRs). Continuing a successful series of events supporting EPSRC’s strategic aim of developing the leaders of the future, two facilitated workshops focused on the skills needed to respond to fellowship and research calls (March 2015, January 2016). Both workshops were over-subscribed (46 participants from 21 different research institutions) and resulted in very positive feedback on their value, both in terms of career/skills development and in networking opportunities with peers. A number of participants from the first workshop applied to the associated LWEC Fellowship call, while several others are planning to respond to other research calls.
  1. Promoting engagement across the community is an important task for our network, and we strive to achieve a balance between meeting the needs of a few stakeholders in-depth, and in encouraging wider participation in new areas. We currently have working links with over 40 research project teams and an expanding number of over 400 local, regional and national stakeholders across the UK. We have continued our work professional bodies and agencies (CIBSE, RIBA, ICE, EA, HCA, BRE) as an effective means of engaging with the wider audience. There is also a small, but increasing engagement with European and international initiatives, both to increase the value of UK research and foster knowledge exchange opportunities.

And for the future…

  1. For 2016, we have a series of knowledge exchange events planned to respond to current policy and practice requirements. However, the work programme is deliberately flexible to allow the network to respond to emerging needs, and the team at UKCIP welcomes suggestions from stakeholders and researchers for additional coordination and engagement activities.