RCUK India Impact Event in Mumbai

By Chhavi Jain, Administrative officer, RCUK India.

Recently RCUK India in partnership with the British Deputy High Commission, Mumbai hosted a Research and Innovation Roadshow in Mumbai as part its impact event series showcasing the strong UK-India research partnership.

Mumbai presents its people a bustling commercial life along with a colossal film industry, often called the ‘City of Hopes & Dreams’, being center of entertainment with Bollywood- the largest film industry of India and the financial hub of India. The city also offers much for research and innovation, with a number of leading institutions such as Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Bombay and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). In short there is so much to this city!

The aim of the event was to reach out to a wide group of people and to build new networks within the State of Maharashtra. There was attendance by academics, policy makers, industrial leads, scientists & young researchers. The panel members at the event were Mr Kumar Iyer, British Deputy High Commissioner, Mumbai; Prof Prakash C Ghosh, Associate Professor, IIT-Bombay, , Mr Vijay Srirangan, Director General, Bombay Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India.

Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK reiterated to the audience that UK is the one of best places in the world for research with top class facilities and a commitment to developing innovative solutions that will help address global challenges. Projects highlighted included a Kem Hospital Pune & University of Southampton collaboration which is clinically trialing use of vitamin B12 both pre and during pregnancy to help avoid adverse foetal programming, particularly in relation to diabetics.

The interest in our impact roadshows continues to demonstrate the huge appetite in India for an enhanced collaboration in innovative high-quality research which delivers impact.

 

Building a new grants service

By Sarah Townsend, Head of Grants Policy – This article originally appeared in The Protagonist.

It’s a feeling we have all experienced when using online services. It is that feeling of frustration caused by the fact that the system is too clunky, the screen is too cluttered, we are being asked too many questions or we have had to enter data multiple times. I’m sure that people have felt that way when applying to the Research Councils for a grant and that’s something we want to tackle.

Research Councils are in the midst of a major project to redesign our grants service. This is not only a great opportunity to replace our outdated technology but we are also using the opportunity to look at the way we do grant funding across Research Councils and ask ourselves what could we do better. Where can we make things simpler? Are there ways to make our policies and processes more streamlined? We want to improve the service for applicants and other users, both internal and external.

GOODBYE JE-S

Our current grants system – the joint electronic submission service (Je-S) – is reaching the end of its useful life and we know that researchers love it and hate it in equal measures. Ahead for its time when it was introduced, it is now like a well-worn and well-loved pair of slippers – we know that it will be a wrench for some when our new service comes online.

The good news is that the new service will enable us to deliver some really important improvements for the community such as greater interoperability with research organisations’ systems. Within the Higher Education sector there are many systems and data that, at the moment, do not communicate with each other. This means that information cannot flow through these different systems and users have to enter the same information multiple times.

The new grants service will push us farther forward by helping us achieve a more connected infrastructure and cut inefficiencies for everyone using the service. In future, we want to be able to reuse information that already exists in other systems wherever possible to reduce the amount of time applicants spend filling in a grant application. We also want to have simpler guidance and only ask for information that we actually need.

WELCOME TO THE NEW GRANTS SERVICE INTERFACE

The new grants service is being developed with user needs at the front of everyone’s minds. To give you some insight into how this works, the user research team has been finding out what users like you want the grants service to do. They have spoken to applicants, peer reviewers, panel members, research organisation administrators and Research Council staff. Then they tell the service designers what they discovered. The service designers are bringing these users’ needs to life throughout the user journey).

Moreover, whilst the grants service will be hosted on the ac.uk domain, the screens are based on the gov.uk platform. Therefore, the new grants service will look and feel a lot like this platform. If you have taxed your vehicle or shared your driving license information in the last few years, chances are you will have already used a gov.

uk service, and like applying to tax your vehicle, we expect the new grants service to be very intuitive to use. Hopefully, you will feel right at home.

Also, we have great news for applicants applying to Research Councils and Innovate UK: we are developing a single unified grants service! This means you have a very similar experience when applying to both organisations.

SO WHERE ARE WE NOW?

A panel of government digital service assessors recently reviewed the project and has given us a pass on the alpha stage. So what does that mean? During the alpha stage of the project the team built prototypes to meet some key user needs and iterated those through user feedback. They also scoped what the end-to-end service would look like.

So what’s next? Having passed this assessment the team can now progress into the beta stage. In this stage the team will extend those early prototypes into a full end-to-end prototype and test with users. Initially, this will be a private beta, which means that access will be restricted rather than available to all. The aim is to be able to run a small number of funding opportunities through the new service in 2017 and to have transitioned fully in 2018. Throughout the development we will continue to test with users. The work is done in very small chunks with continual iteration based on the feedback received. If you want to know more you can sign up to our mailing list http://eepurl.com/bXNziH and check out the information available on the RCUK website www.rcuk. ac.uk/funding/2017update.

 

 

Goodbye from Dr Nafees Meah

By Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India

फिर मिलेंगे    (See you later….)

Time has just zipped by and I can’t believe that I am leaving RCUK India office! It has been a great privilege and a lot of fun to be at the helm of RCUK India over the past four years.  Soon after I arrived in India, I wrote a blog about my first impressions.  What struck me then was the palpable sense that India was on the move.  That impression is even stronger four years later – the buzz and the sense of new opportunities has only grown.

Team RCUK India

Team RCUK India

I said then that I was a firm believer in the appliance of science to tackle problems of water and energy access, rapid urbanisation and poverty and, I am very pleased to say, that we have now a substantial portfolio of research and innovation projects addressing these issues.  Our USP in RCUK India has been to work as partners in relationships with our Indian colleagues that are based on mutual trust and confidence.  My proudest achievement has been to have contributed to a real renaissance in the research and innovation partnership between UK and India – the oldest and the largest democracies in the world.

I truly believe that we have achieved a great deal together and what we have done will make a big difference.  I want to thank the best team that I have ever worked with: Sukanya Kumar-Sinha, Geeny George Shaju, Andrew Telford, Chhavi Jain and Monika Sharma.  A lot of what has been achieved has been due to their effort. They have been brilliant.

As we look forward, it is not too difficult to predict that the trade partnership with India will become even more important to the UK following the EU referendum vote.  That may be the silver lining.  But it is crucial that we maintain a strong, long term partnership across a broad range of issues and, whilst trade is important, we do not reduce the measure of our abiding relationship to that metric alone.

It has been a great experience to work as part of the British High Commission family in New Delhi.  I very much hope that my successor, Daniel Shah, has an equally rewarding time as the new Director of RCUK India.   I wish him well.

As for me and my family, we will be starting a new adventure in India – outside the warm embrace of the British High Commission in Delhi.  I shall be taking up new appointment as the South Asia Representative of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).  My office will be in Delhi so I hope that friends in the Research Councils will look me up when you are in this part of the world.  My door will be always open…

Gateway to Research – 2016 Research Outcomes data

The 2016 outcomes data submitted in Researchfish during the submission period (1 February – 10 March 2016) has now been published on Gateway to Research.

The submission rate for researchers was 95% and for students it was 78% with over 346,000 new attributions made. RCUK would like to thank the research organisations, researchers and students for their efforts during the 2016 submission period.

 

Visit http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/ to view the latest published data.

UK-India research collaboration to understand the Indian monsoon

By Dr Monika Sharma, Newton Fund Delivery Programme Manager.

One of the many unique things about India is its summer monsoon, a weather phenomenon which is one of the oldest, and much awaited patterns every year beginning June through September.

Monsoon has a distinct place in the day–to-day lives of Indians, from Bollywood to the Indian kitchens. There are dedicated rain songs in many Indian movies showing overjoyed love birds dancing around, welcoming and enjoying the rain. Not only does the monsoon make people happy, but they even have special snacks and savouries for these rainy months. This shows the magnitude to which monsoon is loved and anticipated in India.

The Indian economy is vitally linked with the monsoon because of its water resources. A large part of the country (around a billion people) gets more than 80% of the annual rainfall during these four months.

Group picture with Minister Vardhan

Group picture with Minister Vardhan

However, on the flip side, the heavy monsoon rain is also responsible for creating unpleasant situations like long traffic jams, clogged roads or unfortunate flash floods. This year, monsoon floods hit the northeastern Indian state of Assam, killing several people and forcing many more to leave their homes.  In 2013, the monsoon advanced particularly rapidly over northern India, causing devastating damage while, in 2009, prolonged breaks led to a severe shortage of rainfall and poor harvests.

In short, the only thing which doesn’t go well with Indian monsoon is its unpredictability hence affecting day-to-day life in general and lives of poor farmers in particular.

To have a better understanding of the physical processes of the monsoon, the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), India the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK and the UK Met Office have joined hands under a research programme called The Drivers of Variability in the South Asian Monsoon, with a combined investment of about £11.4 million.

The modified BAe 146-301 large Atmospheric Research Aircraft (the ARA) takes off

The modified BAe 146-301 large Atmospheric Research Aircraft (the ARA) takes off

Under this programme, the UK’s Atmospheric Research Aircraft (ARA) was brought to India to be used as a research facility for the team of UK and Indian researchers studying atmospheric measurements for better predictability of monsoon patterns between May and July 2016. The ARA is a modified BAe 146-301 and provides a world leading platform for atmospheric measurements. It is managed by the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) which is a collaborative operation between NERC, Met Office and is based at Cranfield University. FAAM plans and executes science campaigns on behalf of the both the NERC scientific community and the Met Office. It has completed nearly 1000 science missions in over 30 countries. This is its first mission in India.

Under this partnership, UK and Indian scientists will have access to this state- of -the -art facility that will help gain in-depth knowledge of the South Asian monsoon and their improved representation in weather and climate models. In addition to the FAAM facility, this partnership also used Indian research ships (Sindhu Sadhana) and underwater marine robots to take measurements in the waters of the Bay of Bengal, south east of India.

For me, a personal highlight was when as part of this observational campaign, I boarded this flight on 11th July, along with Dr Harsh Vardhan (Union Minister of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences), Dr Alexander Evans (British Deputy High Commissioner), Dr M. Rajeevan (Secretary to the Government of India, MoES), and researchers involved in the projects. We agreed that this was a unique UK-India research partnership on the monsoon studies, and were absolutely thrilled by the experience.

Gate way to Research – Innovate UK Project Participant values

The most recent Gateway to Research system release publishes the breakdown of Innovate UK’s project participant values. This new information can be found on the Organisation tab of Innovate UK projects only.

Two new columns are being displayed called, ‘Project Cost’ and ‘Grant Offer’. The values being published under these headings are defined as follows:

  • Project Cost: Total Cost of Project including Grant Values and Project Participant Contributions
  • Grant Offer: Total Grant issued to each Project Participant

The API, GtR-2, has been updated to version 4. This now includes the outcome and project participant information.

Researchers can now create or connect their ORCID identifier in the Research Councils’ grants system (Je-S)

By Sarah Townsend, Research Funding Analyst, RCUK Executive Directorate.

An ORCID identifier (ORCID iD) is a unique string of numbers (a digital identifier) that distinguishes you from every other researcher – when a name isn’t enough! Letting researchers create or connect their ORCID iD to our grants system is an important first step towards improving the flow of research information across the higher education sector. ORCID offers a platform for researchers to capture your scholarly activities throughout your careers even if you change name, publish under different variations of your name, move institutions, or switch fields. This helps you get exposure and recognition for your work. Increasingly it will also be a tool to link and re-use research information unambiguously across multiple systems whether that’s for funders, publishers or your university. Initiatives like Crossref’s new auto-update functionality is automating the process, so ultimately this will save everyone time – in particular, researchers – as well as minimizing the risk of errors.

There is no need to wait until you are applying for a new grant to create or connect your iD – we would encourage both current and past award holders to log-in to their Je-S account, which you can do at any time, and add your ORCID iD to your ‘personal information’ page now. New applicants you will also see the option to ‘create or connect your ORCID iD’ when creating a new Je-S account. And don’t worry – if you don’t currently have an ORCID iD, you can also sign up for one from the Je-S system. The basic registration takes about 30 seconds, including adding your ORCID iD to your Je-S account at the same time – and it’s completely free.

Did you know that well over two million researchers worldwide already have an ORCID iD and that many UK universities have now integrated ORCID iDs in their research information systems? In addition, many publishers now require you to include your ORCID iD in new article submissions and several funders now ask for your ORCID iD when you apply for a grant. So now is a great time to sign up to ORCID if you haven’t already done so and connect your ORCID iD to your Je-S account.

“A researcher’s view

“Many journals are already asking authors to include their ORCID iD in new submissions and funders such as Research Councils have also begun to ask researchers to include their ORCID iD when applying for grants. As a researcher there are many benefits to having an ORCID iD. Through my ORCID iD, I can recognise and collate a diverse range of research outputs (e.g. journal publications, datasets, designs, equipment, methods, computer code) which are uniquely identifiable to me. This helps my work be accurately and quickly discovered, increasing its ready availability as a result of the open access systems we use (e.g. NORA). Importantly, this also improves the scientific traceability of my research, linking together different research outputs and datasets when archived in different places. The extent to which my research outputs have been used by other researchers can be more accurately demonstrated using platforms such as ResearchGate and Google Scholar, improving my research profile and helping me better demonstrate the impact of my research activities. An ORCID iD and QR code on business cards is also a quick and easy way for new contacts to readily reach my research profile, promoting collaboration opportunities and new science ideas.”        

 Dr Matthew Horstwood has been working as a researcher for over 18 years and is currently employed at the British Geological Survey. He has been talking to other researchers at BGS about the benefits of ORCID and has used his ORCID profile to capture over 80 works he has authored or contributed to going back as far as 1999, as well as grants he has received and his employment history.

 

On the Road to Chandigarh – RCUK India Impact event

By Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India

Chandigarh, the shared Capital of the States of Punjab and Haryana, is a place that’s unique.  That’s because, very unusually for India, it is a planned city.  It was planned by Le Corbusier, the father of modernism in architecture.  So instead of the hustle and bustle of people, cows, cars, carts, tuk-tuks cramming the streets, you have instead miles and miles of tree lined boulevards and roundabouts – a bit like an Indian Milton Keynes really.   The BBC recently wrote that it might be the most perfect city in the world…

Illustration of the Research Council portfolio in Chandigarh, noting approximate Principal and selected Co-Investigator locations

Illustration of the Research Council portfolio in Chandigarh, noting approximate Principal and selected Co-Investigator locations

However, it is also a hub of research and innovation activity in India with a number of leading institutions of national importance such as Panjab University.  So with the Deputy British High Commission in Chandigarh, we recently held an event to show case the impact of RCUK-India research and innovation partnership as part of series of these kinds of events in India.  The aim was to engage with a wider group of people than we normally do and talk about our successful and burgeoning partnership and to build new networks at the State level.  It is important that we do this, not least as we are seeing in India a new partnership being established between the Centre and the States – termed Cooperative Federalism   – with more money and power being devolved to the States.

We had a full house at the event with a good mix of policy makers, academics, journalists, lawyers etc.  I think it reflected the great connection between the people of Punjab and Haryana with the UK.  The Panel, as well as myself, consisted of the Deputy High Commissioner, David Lelliott, Vivek Atray, Director of Industries and Commerce, Government of Punjab and Gokul Butail,  IT advisor to the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. The Q&A session was particularly lively with plenty of questions about developing closer links at the State level.

From this event, and others like it, there is clearly a huge appetite in India for enhancing the collaboration on research and innovation with the UK on issues that are really important such as urbanisation, water and energy security, and health and well being.  I think that we are getting our message across that the UK is the best place to do research in the world.

Gateway to Research Individual Outcome Search functionality

It is now possible to search for individual outcome information within Gateway to Research via the main search field on the homepage. This will return a list of single outcome results on a page similar to the existing tabs i.e. Projects, Publications, People and Organisations. So when a keyword is entered into the search field, the results page will now include a new tab called ‘Outcomes’ after the ‘Organisations’ tab. This will show the number of occurrences of the respective keyword/s which a user has typed in across the system.

Similar to other pages in Gateway to Research, the result page can be refined using the list of options available down the right hand side of the page. Clicking on the ‘Outcomes’ tab will return the user to their previous filter setting again similar to other pages.

The new page will display the outcome type, the attributing project title, the funder, the attributing project abstract and the information submitted in Researchfish.

The search result displays instances of the keyword that has occurred within a set number of default and non-default fields.

It is not yet possible to download the individual outcomes information a CSV document, this capability will be delivered at a later date. However Outcome information is available within the APIs.

City of Nawabs or Hub of Hi Tech Science- RCUK India Impact event in Hyderabad

By Dr Monika Sharma, Newton Fund Delivery Programme Manager.

Recently the RCUK India team landed in the city of Hyderabad, in Southern India, to showcase to the city the strong UK India research and innovations links.

Illustration of the Research Council portfolio in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), noting approximate Principal and selected Co-Investigator locations

Illustration of the Research Council portfolio in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), noting approximate Principal and selected Co-Investigator locations

Hyderabad is home to 13 Universities, lots of research centres specialising in the field of biomedical sciences, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals such as the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research and National Institute of Nutrition. The city hosts prestigious institutes like the Indian School of BusinessInternational Institute of Information Technology, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, and research  institutes carrying multidisciplinary research such as Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Geophysical Research Institute, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, and Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics.

There is a big hub of scientific, pharmaceutical and business community based in the city with strong links to British universities, consultancies or business tie-ups. RCUK India have many projects co- funded with the Indian government worth millions of rupees with researchers based at the University of Hyderabad, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Nonferrous Materials Technology Development Centre, Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, L V Prasad Eye Institute. These research projects have not only made international publications but also success stories with Impact.

We hosted in partnership with Andrew McAllister, Deputy High Commissioner Hyderabad an event where we celebrated the IMPACT of the UK-India research partnerships in presence of scientists, young researchers, senior academics, journalists, and senior policy makers.

Hyderabadblog2Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK reiterated to the audience that UK is the best place for research with top class research facilities and also UK is among one of the top counties for doing business and developing innovative technologies to address the global challenges.

We were pleased to hear the views of our chief guest, Dr Narsaiah Goud, MP Telangana state where he highlighted the potential of Hyderabad for research collaborations, as a business hub and his desire for new innovations in a plethora of research areas.

While we were winding up our very successful visit by savouring traditional Irani “chai” with Osmania biscuits in one of the cafes opposite to Charminar, it was a delight to see the way the landscape of the city has flourished amidst the iconic rocky landscapes: the imposing sophisticated HITEC City on one side, and, the historic and vibrant old city of the royal Nizams on the other.