Research Futures shortlisted for Leadership Foundation award

Heriot-Watt Crucible, the new research leadership programme developed by Research Futures, has been selected as one of the three finalists for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education's "Good Practice Impact Award 2011".

Research collaboration project

The inaugural Heriot-Watt programme launched by Research Futures earlier this year was the first institution-specific "Crucible" ever run at a UK university. It brought together a group of specially selected lecturers and research staff from Heriot-Watt University and its research partners to take part in an intensive programme that saw them exploring research collaboration at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, innovation at Heriot-Watt Research Park, internationalisation at the British Council, outreach at the 'Dynamic Earth' science centre, and public policy at the Scottish Parliament.

Heriot-Watt Crucible aimed to inspire a network of potential research leaders to become more creative, innovative and ambitious in their interdisciplinary research collaborations. Participants were exposed to new ideas, skills and collaborators to help them capitalise on the knowledge generated through their research and see their work have an impact in business, policy or outreach. Ultimately challenged to propose new ideas for interdisciplinary research, the group succeeded in developing at least six new projects during the programme, some of which went on to win pump-prime funding, or led to innovative joint applications for external research supoprt and studentships.

Heriot-Watt Crucible was designed by Dr Ruth Neiland, Head of Research Futures, and Professor Alan Miller, Deputy Principal, Research & Knowledge Transfer, both at Heriot-Watt University, and was based on their highly successful  Scottish Crucible programme, which has run across Scotland since 2009 with support from the Scottish Funding Council, Royal Society of Edinburgh, NESTA, Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and Universities Scotland.

Encouraging interdisciplinary research

Head of Research Futures, Dr Ruth Neiland, said, "The Crucible approach is clearly being recognised as a highly effective way to help researchers harness their skills and aptitudes for interdisciplinary research, innovation and KT while enhancing their capacity for research leadership. Through this award nomination Research Futures is pleased to be seen as leading the way in offering this valuable opportunity to the research community at Heriot-Watt University and its research partners."

The first Heriot-Watt Crucible was funded jointly by EPSRC ("Pathways to Impact") and ERDF ("Converge"), and additional sponsorship has already been secured from ERDF to continue the programme over the next two years.