Final report for EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship 2012

Research output: Other contribution

Abstract / Description of output

EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship 2012/13
University of Edinburgh Final Report, June 2013
PI: Professor Bob Fisher

Report produced by: Professor Bob Fisher, College Dean of Research ( and Dr Lynn Forsyth, College Research Officer (

The University of Edinburgh was allocated an Institutional Sponsorship award of £747,137. An open competition for applications for funding was announced on the 25 January 2012 with a deadline of the 10 February 2012. The award was held in the College of Science and Engineering, and applicants were advised that the School’s Business Development Executives (embedded within each School of the College with the remit for knowledge exchange) should be involved in developing the proposals. Projects were invited regarding their ability to (i) address EPSRC’s priority areas (Living with Environmental Change, Healthcare Technologies, Global Uncertainties, Digital Economy, Manufacturing the Future, and Energy), (ii) enhance collaboration between other universities and between the Schools and Colleges of the University, (iii) create ‘impact’ in preparation for the upcoming REF2014 exercise, and (iv) fit to EPSRC’s four delivery plan headings of Delivering Impact, Developing Leaders, Shaping Capability, and Efficiency and Effectiveness.

The selection panel comprised Professor Lesley Yellowlees (Head of College), Professor Bob Fisher (College Dean of Research), and Dr Wendy Nicholson (Head of Business Development, Edinburgh Research and Innovation). 35 applications were received and 24 proposals were selected for award by the selection panel. Proposals were assessed based on their fit to the call criteria, the quality of their plan and the ‘value’ of their impacts. The majority of the allocation decisions were made on the 21 February 2012.

The Institutional Sponsorship funding has been of great value to the University through promoting a number of ‘enabling’ activities, namely in the areas of:

• Promoting our research results to the public (1.1, 1.6, 3.2)

• Developing and/or promoting equipment, facilities and research that can help others with their research or commercial activities (1.2, 1.3, 3.7, 3.9, 3.10, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4)

• Enhance our general abilities to identify and deliver impact (1.4)

• Improve relations with companies (1.5, 2.2)

• Improve career prospects for all young researchers, especially women (2.1,, 2.3, 2.4)

• Promoting interdisciplinary research (3.1, 3.2, 3.8)

• Initial explorations and prototypes (3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6) All of these have greatly enhanced the University's research infrastructure and ability to deliver research and impact to the outside world.

The following projects were selected for award and the impact and difference made from investment in these proposals were as follows:

1. Delivering Impact: Pathways to Impact (£219,512 allocated)

1.1 Coastal Power Exhibition (Professor Clive Greated, School of Physics and Astronomy) - the funds were used to purchase video equipment to document research into wave and tidal power at Edinburgh. Video footage was taken of the new Flowave TT test facility and related measuring equipment, and also of the Pelamis, Oyster, Seatricity, and Scotrenewables devices in the field. Finished videos have been made and shown at the Orkney and Edinburgh Science Festivals. See: and, where there have been 270 views to date. These include interviews with Professor Stephen Salter and Professor Ian Bryden. As a follow up to this, a film on how complex sea states are generated both in the wave tank and the real ocean is planned.

1.2 CSE Marketing and Promotion for the Launch of the All-Waters Combined Current and Wave Test Facility (Dr Tom Davey, School of Engineering) - this funding was used to support awareness raising activities for the new All-Waters Combined Current and Wave Test Facility (Flowave TT), with an emphasis on industrial engagement. Funds were used to support eight major conference exhibitions, display systems and a promotional video and animation that would not have otherwise been funded. These tools gave the facility a highly professional outward image, and the conference exhibitions in particular have generated very high quality industrial contacts (400 sector contacts of which 40-50 are identified as likely clients). These marketing activities will continue and the marketing material will be further developed and remain in use as the facility nears completion.

1.3 Establishing Sustainable Pathways to Impact (Ian Sharp, College of Science and Engineering) - we created a new role to lead client focussed activity on behalf of the College of Science and Engineering and also engaged a Development and Alumni staff member to work with the team. The focus was on creating a new culture of building long term relationships with large corporate partners. We are beginning to build partnerships with both existing clients and also new companies, and during the project we began working with, for example, Dstl, Astrium Satellites, Reckets Benckiser, Selex, NPL, Chemring, Mc Phies, UCB, and the Canadian Government. This has resulted in funding (directly and indirectly) of £5M and four joint consortia bids, and greater market and industry awareness. We are beginning to open up the College of Science and Engineering to industry and make it far more accessible to potential partners. The project has both demonstrated and created an acceptance that the University needs this approach toward industry. We are now using Impact Acceleration funds to continue this work and grow the outward facing team.

1.4 Impact Manager (Ian Sharp, College of Science and Engineering) - the funding was used to enhance the College’s Pathways to Impact (PTI) activity on new RCUK large grant applications and provide ERI evidence to support the commercial Impact case studies for the College’s REF submission through the use of an Impact Manager. The funding allowed for the creation of a ‘PTI - Industry Engagement and Economic Impact’ document, revamped ‘Impact’ webpages, including examples of PTI plans from successful grant applications, the running of workshops on ‘Writing a Successful PTI Plan’, and supporting PIs in grant applications. This role is now regarded as an essential component in helping our PIs create future Impact. We will continue to provide the support described above and will provide continued support to the Dean of REF.

1.5 Industrial Biotechnology Accounts Manager (Ian Sharp, College of Science and Engineering) - we seconded a researcher to join our client relationship team to focus on building up industry relationships around our Industrial Biotechnology (IB) capability. So far we have engaged with over 30 companies and have submitted a joint bid with Strathclyde (£2M - £10M) for a SFC Innovation Centre in IB. We are currently developing several other large industry led bids in this area. We have an agreement with the School of Biological Sciences to extend the project into a second year through a joint funding model. We will continue to manage the new relationships that we have established, as there are significant further opportunities. We are also exploring a potential TSB bid in this area with several partners.

1.6 Museum Mapping/Recommended Relics (Jane Macdonald, Edinburgh College of Art) - Recommended Relics created a smart audio guide for the National Museum of Rural Life Scotland using Android phones and Near Field Technology. The guide provided additional information on objects and also recommended other artefacts the visitor might be interested in. We investigated the best methods to create links between objects, and the funding allowed in-depth evaluation of the process. The guide has proved popular with visitors and the museum has requested to keep the phones in place. During our four week trial 52 visitors used the guide. We now aim to apply for a larger grant to enable us to carry this research forward and further develop the recommender system.

2. Developing Leaders: Widening the Pool of Research Experience (£130,750 allocated)

2.1 Achieving Athena SWAN Accreditation (June Bell, Human Resources) - the funds were used to employ a Project Support Officer (PSO) to provide dedicated support to School self-assessment teams to (i) target the appropriate level of award for submission, (ii) interpret the requirements of that award, (iii) obtain the relevant data, and (iv) conduct relevant data analysis. The PSO also provided feedback on action plans and submission proposals. The School of Chemistry was awarded Gold and the School of Biological Sciences was awarded Silver. The remaining Schools are due to submit for either Bronze or Silver in 2013. The ultimate aim is for all Schools to submit for the Gold award at an appropriate juncture. Without this funding, not all Schools would have been engaged or able to submit.

2.2 SME Accounts Manager (Ian Sharp, College of Science and Engineering) - we have employed a returning researcher to join our client relationship team and focus on building up industry relationships with SMEs. We are beginning to develop several significant relationships with larger SMEs, such as McPhies, Devro and Sandvick, which involve internships and joint bidding. In meeting with over 40 SMEs, we have raised awareness of Edinburgh’s willingness to work with the SME community, and also exposed our returning researcher to the importance of Impact. We are also improving Edinburgh’s participation in funding schemes for SME collaboration. We are also building SME working networks that Edinburgh previously didn’t have. The project has both demonstrated and created an acceptance that the University needs this approach towards industry. We are now using Impact Acceleration funds to continue this work and grow the outward facing team.

2.3 & 2.4 Research Leader Programme (Sheila Thompson, Institute for Academic Development) and Pathways to Professional Development (Dr Jon Turner, Institute for Academic Development) - the funding was used for (i) an interactive online leadership and management guide for academics, (ii) leadership training (body language, influencing skills), (iii) an interdisciplinary sandpit style event, (iv) an evaluation related to career aspirations/progression/barriers, and (v) a research leader course for PI’s and Fellows. It is now easier to identify relevant leadership development opportunities and there has been increased links between EPSRC related disciplines, where researchers are more aware of how to demonstrate leadership and good management practice. There has also been more insight into perceived barriers to career progression. We will continue to use the online guide to identify/address programme gaps, and we will also continue to inform strategy for developing academic leaders. The School of Informatics’ expanding leadership course also has an opportunity to now build upon the sandpit event to support interdisciplinary leadership.

3. Shaping Capability: Bridging the Gaps (£230,643 allocated)

3.1 Maximaths (Professor Jacques Vanneste, School of Mathematics) - the award has supported the Maximaths initiative ( and funded eight small-scale multidisciplinary research projects pairing up mathematicians of the School of Mathematics with partners either from another School or from industry. The projects cover a broad spectrum of applications, ranging from solar energy harvesting to the tracking of financial indices. New links have been established with industrial partners, such as Fiat Lux, Standard Life and Ocean Science Consulting, and with academics in other disciplines. These form the basis of continued collaborations, are leading to new grant applications (four in preparation), and have helped the positioning of the School of Mathematics in multidisciplinary CDT bids.

3.2 Video Summaries (Professor Bob Fisher, School of Informatics) - the one-minute Research Video funding (with additional funding from the University) was used to film and mount approximately 500 videos from University academic staff. A University-level web page was developed that presents the videos in an attractive, organised and cross-linked manner. See: The project goal was to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration by helping staff learn quickly what other staff do (in part by intelligent cross-linkage). We have also presented the videos at lunchtime events around the University. More than 75,000 video viewings have occurred since the January 2013 launch.

3.3 DECONOMIX - DECONvoluting cOmplex MIXtures (Dr Margaret Graham, School of GeoSciences) - the funding has supported development of a chromatographic (HILIC-HPLC) method for deconvoluting extremely complex mixtures of natural organic molecules. Without this even state-of-the-art ICR-FTIR-MS and NMR instrumentation cannot identify and characterise the many 1000s of compounds contained therein. The funding made a substantial difference, as it produced data that were used in several grant application to justify the proof of concepts. The material produced via this support is currently subject to further research, which will be detailed in forthcoming publications. Currently at the final panel considerations, a NERC grant application (Long-lived Radionuclides in the Surface Environment (LO-RISE) - Mechanistic Studies of Speciation, Environmental Transport and Transfer) will use the developed method to probe radionuclide interactions with specific organic molecules. A further EPSRC grant application is planned. Discussions of other applications with potential users, including water authorities and the Scottish whisky industry, are on-going. A PhD studentship appointed for 2013/2014 in the School of Chemistry will continue the research that was supported by this funding.

3.4 Queue-Eye (Professor Jon Oberlander, School of Informatics) - the goal was to exploit computer vision research to monitor and interact with a bus queue near the School of Informatics. Funding covered a high definition video camera, and research associate time to capture and analyse a corpus of data relating to queuing groups. The project achieved its planned impact, informing a Centre for Design Informatics workshop to help identify novel services and products. As a direct result, a collaborative proof of concept project has been scoped, focusing on indoor positioning to support 3D augmented reality audio. This project commences in June 2013, and longer term we will be seeking both NESTA and EU support.

3.5 Signal Processing of Trace Gas Emissions: Developing System Identification for Quantification of Gas Exchange in Global Change Research (Dr Andy McLeod, School of GeoSciences) - the project funds were used to employ a researcher to collect and analyse data from trial experiments to quantify the system performance of our trace gas analysis facility and compile results into a report. Application of this system identification method for quantification of vegetation trace gas emission has provided a novel method for study of UV-driven foliar emissions. Follow-on work is planned to apply the technique with a range of living leaves and may form the basis of future funding applications following description of the approach in a scientific journal publication.

3.6 More Efficient Quantum Materials Supercomputing with Graphics Processing Units (Professor Graeme Ackland, School of Physics and Astronomy) - we have investigated using GPU processors to perform calculations using the commercial materials modelling code CASTEP. GPU processors are present in all modern workstations, but are unused by CASTEP. The code typically takes many hours to run, so performance improvements are important to Accelrys, who market the code and were interested in a GPU version. A simple strategy of running the compute-intensive parts of the code was attempted. The code was successfully ported, however the performance improvement in processing did not compensate for the time lost copying data back and forth from the GPU. Code profiling showed that it would be possible to obtain a speed-up if most of the data was stored permanently on the GPU. This involves a much larger code rework, and we have secured additional funds to carry out this work, which is on-going.

3.7 Research Cloud Pilot (Tony Weir, Information Services) - the funding allowed us to build a cloud pilot service and to explore the usefulness of such a tool for computational research. Eight projects were actively supported. Many of these were able to conduct work they couldn't have done otherwise. We have clear evidence from the projects that an Infrastructure as a service cloud is a valuable addition to traditional computational resources and furthermore can be used successfully. In providing a cloud pilot we have gained technical expertise and now understand the path to full service provision. Based on this work, we expect to include a cloud service in future research computing provision. In the meantime, we will continue the pilot to provide continuity for our users.

3.8 Seeing Inside Model Granular Materials - from Granular Physics to Engineering Tools (Dr Jin Sun, School of Engineering) - the funding has been used to sustain the growth of the collaboration first established through the same award in 2011/2012. The funded research showed that granulation in some cases is very dependent on details of the inter-particle interaction, which is now used to inform our further experiments and simulations. The project has amplified the impact of EPSRC-funded research through mutual knowledge transfer, attracted two EPSRC CASE Studentships and therefore fostered a strategic alliance involving other groups in the College. Continuous research collaboration and joint EPSRC grant application on granulation have been planned, with submission likely in 2013/2014.

3.9 Building Capacity for International Engagement for the Development of Geo Reservoirs for Alternative Energy (Dr Chris McDermott, School of GeoSciences) - the funding was used to organise and execute a joint industry day with the Environment and Sustainability KTN (ES KTN) entitled ‘Biochar - Carbon Storage with Benefits ‘ which took place on the 21 March 2013. The aim was to promote Carbon Mitigation, which is one of the School of Geoscience’s priority areas for knowledge transfer and growth. Over 35 delegates registered and attended the event, comprising over 25 companies both SME and large. We have forged useful links with industry partners and with ES KTN and Interface Scotland Food and Drink. We now intend to expand our application area and focus on Future Cities with the potential of Biochar to link for energy, heat recovery, waste management and water quality.

3.10 Seed Funding for a Scottish Hub for Interdisciplinary Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (Dr Dušan Uhrín, School of Chemistry) - we purchased the necessary replacement parts for our aging 600 MHz spectrometer. This 600 MHz spectrometer is part of the core of the established Scottish Hub for Interdisciplinary NMR, which brings together NMR scientists from seven Scottish universities. This small investment contributed to the success of our £1.24 million EPSRC Core Capability for Chemistry Research grant application (NMR and MS). We have also established a Scottish NMR Users Group and are about to go live with our web-based resource We plan to become one of the five UK Regional Centres for Biomolecular NMR under the “Capital Investment Roadmap: BiomolecularNMR” initiative spearheaded by RCUK.

4. Efficiency and Effectiveness: Promoting Increased Equipment Sharing (£168,836 allocated)

4.1 Developing a Case for an Edinburgh-Based Scottish Regional Research Computing Centre (Alison Kennedy, School of Physics and Astronomy) - the ERCPool2 project aimed to (i) gather requirements for a putative High Performance Computing (HPC) Regional Computing Centre, (ii) undertake a number of pilot projects which could help regional users and make a case for shared facilities, (iii) develop a business model for such a Regional Computer Centre, and (iv) deliver a report making the case for a Centre. Contacts within the pooling initiative (chemists, life sciences) produced some useful and insightful views. Three pilot projects were addressed successfully using cycles on ECDF and applications consultancy from EPCC (i) DL-POLY (molecular dynamics) with Robin Westacott of Heriot-Watt University, (ii) WRF (regional weather forecasting) with Eddie Graham of The University of Highlands and Islands, and (iii) GROMACS with Dr Stephen Euston, also of Heriot-Watt University. A business model was developed by George Graham of EPCC. The project enabled EPCC and IS to work closely together to develop a plan and model for a Regional Computing Centre.

4.2 UK Facility for Adsorption and Membrane Characterisation Equipment (Professor Stefano Brandani, School of Engineering) - a post-doctoral research assistant (PDRA) was hired to develop the adsorption and membranes laboratory into a Small Research Facility (SRF) and update the training manuals for the equipment. The funding provided resources that have now allowed the development of a cost structure for access to the facility. The PDRA has also been able to carry out measurements for various research groups within the University in the School of Physics and Astronomy, and School of GeoSciences as a result of the "Get your Kit Out" session last year. Grant proposals have been submitted by different groups including costing on the use of the SRF and we await the outcome. We have been able to run two CPD courses on measurement of diffusion in nanoporous materials and characterisation of nanoporous materials, with attendees from Air Products, Exxon-Mobil, Hitachi, and Johnson Matthey. We are seeking funding to have a technician to support the facility and allow access from various academic and industrial users. Without the previous support we would have not been able to demonstrate the feasibility of running the laboratory as an SRF.

4.3 Materials Characterisation Facility (Dr Andrea Hamilton, School of Engineering) - the funding was used to hire a post-doctoral research assistant (PDRA) with expertise in using Atomic Force Microscopy and to upgrade our instrument. This is important because our Surface Science Laboratory is one of the few within the UK, and this allowed us to widen the scope of this instrument and engage in Engineering-Biosciences work. We were able to initiate collaborations with the Scottish Microelectronic Centre, School of Chemistry, and Soft Matter Group at the School of Physics via our PDRA. Upgrading our instrument was necessary to image complex biological materials, and we now have significant research papers in preparation and extended collaborations that would not have been possible without this funding.

4.4 Resource Coordinator (Ian Sharp, College of Science and Engineering) - we employed a member of staff to promote CSE facilities and services and encourage collaborations and sharing of resources. This took the form of open day events to promote equipment, as well as the creation of College branded promotional material. The events were all well attended and have sparked new collaborations (we were able to contact over 100 companies). We also now have a well-defined capabilities list that we can promote. We are beginning to raising awareness to other HE institutions and companies across mainly Scotland but also through National organisations. We have two events planned over the next six months to promote facilities, both involve other HIE as well as industry.
Original languageEnglish
Type(ROS Return 2013) - EPSRC Final Report 2012
Media of outputElectronic Submission
Number of pages6
Publication statusUnpublished - 30 Jun 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Institutional Sponsorship
  • Delivering Impact
  • Developing Leaders
  • Shaping Capability
  • Efficiency and Effectiveness


Dive into the research topics of 'Final report for EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship 2012'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this