Major funding boost for UK researchers and innovators

A major partnership, of which Cardiff University is a member, has been awarded 3.4m by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to create a Development Network that will shape the next generation of research leaders.

The FLF Development Network 2, which is led by the University of Edinburgh, will include approximately 300 fellows appointed during the latest rounds of the UKRI’s flagship interdisciplinary funding scheme, the Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF), along with up to 200 further researchers and innovators nominated by the individual Research Councils.

Members of the Network will have access to unique leadership training, mentoring, and engagement opportunities designed to help them maximise the impact of their research and spearhead cutting-edge innovation.

Alongside Cardiff University, the partnership brings together specialists from organisations in the academic, commercial, and third sectors, including Queen’s University Belfast, the School of Advanced Study, University College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow, the University of Leeds, Vertical Future, Vitae, and the Universities Policy Engagement Network.

This new collaboration has grown out of the partnership of seven universities who currently run the first FLF Development Network, established in October 2020 to support 250 research and innovation leaders, including those from the first three rounds of the FLF scheme.

This second phase of the Development Network will welcome fellows from rounds 4-6 of UKRI’s FLF scheme and up to 200 additional research and innovation leaders who have been nominated by the Research Councils.

The Network, which is funded for three years, will deliver novel training and development opportunities, catalyse knowledge exchange externally and internally, and promote collaboration building and networking opportunities to help fellows navigate the changing research and innovation landscape.

Professor Kim Graham, Pro-Vice Chancellor Research, Innovation and Enterpise, said: "Cardiff University is delighted to continue to be a part of this exciting training partnership. The collaboration at the foundation of the Future Leaders Fellows Development Network uniquely brings together commercial, academic and public sector organisations across the UK, fostering new ways of working aligned to maximising the impact of the significant investment in Future Leaders Fellows.

"With its focus on developing the skills required to be effective research and innovation leaders, alongside training in nurturing diverse teams, developing collaborations and delivering real-world impact and innovation, the Development Network 2 will play a critical role in ensuring UK research talent continues to be world-leading."

The Future Leaders Fellowship scheme was created in 2018 to establish the next wave of world-class research and innovation leaders across UK business and academia.

Dr Sara Shinton, Director, Future Leaders Fellows Development Network, and Head of Researcher Development at the University of Edinburgh said: "Our bid for the second phase of the Network places Fellows at the heart of our design and deliveries. We look forward to partnering with this exceptional community of research and innovation leaders over the next three years, as they engage with a vibrant range of outstanding training and engagement activities."

The FLF Development Network 2 brings together partners spanning all four nations of the UK and all sectors of the research and innovation ecosystem. At its core is a partnership of eight universities who, collectively, host 25 per cent of all FLFs appointed so far. They are supported by diversity of individuals and organisations to create a powerful network of research and innovation leaders.

In addition, the Network will offer an internal Plus Funds scheme (300,000) designed to catalyse and grow innovative ideas for collaborative working between Fellows in the Network.