Cross-institute research collaborations forged

Heriot-Watt Crucible Alumni with project panellists

The most recent Heriot-Watt Crucible programme resulted with a wealth of new interdisciplinary collaborations being forged between researchers from four Edinburgh-based centres of excellence in research and innovation.

Maximising interdisciplinary working

Early career stage academics from Heriot-Watt University, the University of Edinburgh, the Moredun Research Institute and multi-national electronics company, SELEX Galileo, came together to take part in Heriot-Watt Crucible III - an intensive leadership programme for 'research leaders of the future'. The 30 participants undertook a series of workshops hosted by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament, the British Council, Heriot-Watt's School of Textiles and Design, the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and Our Dynamic Earth. By engaging with numerous experts from academia, industry, media and government, the group explored building collaborations aimed at maximising their interdisciplinary working, innovation and impact.

Commenting on the group dynamics created by the programme, Dr Heather Anderson, Programme Manager at SELEX Galileo and Heriot-Watt Crucible III participant said, "Above all, I think the thing that impressed me most was how much can be achieved in a short space of time by a group of focussed minds; the interconnected thinking, the quality and diversity of ideas generated, the sophisticated level of the solutions created and the professionalism of the proposals presented."

It is an ideal medium in which to bring together researchers from a wide variety of disciplines and enhance their natural inclination towards collaboration.

Dr Pamela Cameron, Moredun Research Institute

Another Crucible participant, Dr Pamela Cameron, a biomedical scientist from the Moredun Research Institute, was similarly impressed, describing Heriot-Watt Crucible as "an ideal medium in which to bring together researchers from a wide variety of disciplines and enhance their natural inclination towards collaboration".

The Crucible participants were joined by Professor Ian Underwood, Head of the Institute for Integrated Micro and Nano Systems, University of Edinburgh who enthusiastically encouraged others to participate in the programme: "For early career researchers, the Crucible programme provides a unique opportunity (and an excuse if you need one) to step out of the lab, move out of your comfort zone, meet, mix with, and learn from, researchers whose perspective you might never otherwise encounter. The programme will broaden your horizons and change the way you think. The outcome will exceed your expectations - or your "money" back!"

The Heriot-Watt Crucible III winning team also brought together scientists and engineers from Heriot-Watt University - Dr Tom Aspray, Dr Birgit Gaiser and Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas - and the University of Edinburgh - Dr Iain Bethune, Dr Helen Bridle and Dr Prashant Valluri. Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Prash said, "The thought process that led to our project would only have been possible because of the Crucible, where we met like-minded colleagues from extremely varied disciplines €¦.The Crucible gave us a fantastic opportunity to discover the depth and breadth of our own disciplines - by stepping into others!"

Heriot-Watt Crucible was designed by Dr Ruth Neiland, Head of Research Futures and Head of Academic Enhancement and Professor Alan Miller, Deputy Principal, Research and Knowledge Transfer at Heriot-Watt University and is based on their award-winning Scottish Crucible programme. Heriot-Watt Crucible IV is scheduled to run in Autumn 2012 and will be fully funded from Heriot-Watt's 'Converge' initiative and EPSRC.