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Investing in future research leaders

September 2016

Professor Sir Mark Walport, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, said:

Science is not finished until it is communicated effectively – that’s part of the job of being a scientist.

The Adaptation in the Context of Change (ARCC) knowledge exchange network has significantly invested in the future of research leadership through our Early Career Researchers (ECRs) knowledge exchange and skills development programme.

This series of events brings together early career researchers looking at adaptation and resilience in the built environment and infrastructure sectors. Attending the ARCC workshops and webinars has helped to enhance their professional skills and develop their expertise in maximising the impact of their research. To date, nearly 100 ECRs from 24 universities have participated in the programme, with research interests ranging from resilience of energy infrastructure through adapting underground urban environments to building performance and overheating of dwellings.

University of Oxford Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow Dr Pete Walton said that by working with researchers in the early stages of their careers, ARCC has been able to encourage closer engagement with policymakers and practitioners.

“EPSRC aims to develop the research leaders of the future and to enhance the overall impact of research – we firmly agree with that here at ARCC,” he said.

“And most importantly, we all want to see research connected into the world of policymakers and practitioners so that the broader community can benefit from their research”.

ARCC has held workshops in a range of interest areas for our ECR network, including how to develop an impact statement, engaging with stakeholders, achieving impact through stakeholder-focused proposals, and effective communication strategies.

Creating the future research leaders is a critical part of ARCC’s remit, and we have found a successful approach is to bring the ECRs together in workshop style events, getting the latest advice and knowledge straight to them from the experts, including stakeholders from industry and our colleagues at EPSRC, and allowing plenty of informal networking time to allow future collaborative opportunities to be discussed.

Participants at the most recent workshop commented on how their enhanced skills gave them the confidence to go ahead and “develop working ideas for future proposals”, “broaden my engagement repertoire” and “persevere – there are always ways to get better at communicating”.

The ARCC network has more ECR knowledge exchange skills development events scheduled in 2016 and is open to receiving suggestions for workshop themes.