First Festival of Research celebrates Heriot-Watt's research excellence and culture



Heriot-Watt's first 'Festival of Research' took place last week at multiple venues across the Edinburgh campus.

The Festival was organised by the Research Futures Academy and brought together a diverse programme of talks, workshops, discussions, tours and exhibitions for Heriot-Watt students and staff. Designed to highlight the depth and breadth of our world-leading research and facilities, the inaugural event also showcased new initiatives supporting our research communities and culture - through training and development, peer networking and collaboration.

A key element of the Festival of Research was the 'Pioneering Research' strand, which featured six panels of leading academics who explored how their research is tackling critical technological, societal and environmental challenges. Audiences heard direct from our experts on topics ranging from 'decarbonisation' and 'robotics' to 'marine ecosystems' and 'innovation in manufacturing and construction'. The impact of our pioneering research on human health and quality of life were discussed in two further sessions on 'social science research' and 'health technology' chaired by Members of the University Court, Mr Grant Innes and Mr Graham Watson.

Specially invited contributors to the Festival of Research included the Royal Society of Edinburgh – via their inspirational exhibit, “Women in Science in Scotland”, Elsevier Publishing who ran a bespoke publishing workshop for academic staff, and DASA (the UK Government's Defence and Security Accelerator) who discussed opportunities for researchers to collaborate on technological innovation in the security sector. Key contributors from RED – Heriot-Watt's new 'Research Engagement Directorate – included Research and Business Development; Policy, Strategy and Impact; HW Engage; and the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF).

The Festival also featured a “Scottish Crucible Alumni Networking Event” with academic participants travelling from other Scottish Universities to take part and keynote speeches from the Scottish Funding Council (Dr Stuart Fancey) and UK Research and Innovation (Professor Rory Duncan and Kirsty Grainger).

Dr Ruth Neiland, Head of the Research Futures Academy and Scottish Crucible Director, said: “Our inaugural Festival of Research programme was jam-packed with pioneering research and inspiring researchers! Not only were ideas for enhancing research culture, communities and careers discussed but researchers even opened up their labs to showcase their unique research equipment and facilities. Thank you to everyone who contributed to delivering the Festival at Heriot-Watt – especially our highly committed team of PhD student volunteers and colleagues from all of the Professional Services Directorates who supported us throughout the entire event.”

Professor Garry Pender, Deputy Principal, Research and Innovation, added: “The excellent presentations and workshops at Heriot-Watt's Festival of Research gave staff and students the opportunity to celebrate our research, develop their own knowledge and skills, and build networks across the wider Heriot-Watt community. Congratulations to everyone involved in helping to make this first Festival of Research a success and I hope our staff and students feel inspired to follow-up on the research connections and development support it has showcased at Heriot-Watt University.”