Research & Innovation Services news and events

27th March 2017

How it all works: Understanding the emerging Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

HIAW Issue 3 CoverResearch Support: How it all works is a series of guides for researchers. Each edition will explore the emerging policy and regulatory changes around specific themes and introduce you to the connected support that is available across the University.

Issue 03 focusses on understanding the emerging Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The GCRF is a rapidly evolving fund. This guide gives an overview of the considerations when building a successful GCRF application, guidance from university colleagues on the interdisciplinary approach to take and the importance of building effective and ethical partnerships in ODA countries. It also details why a clear and robust pathways to impact statement is crucial.

Download issue 03

Sitran researchersWorking together: Keapstone Therapeutics launched world-first partnership to develop new drugs for Parkinson’s

The University of Sheffield and Parkinson’s UK have launched a new £1 million virtual biotech company in the next stage[1] of a pioneering research programme to create new drugs for Parkinson’s.

In a partnership that is the first of its kind, Keapstone Therapeutics will combine world-leading research from the University with funding and expertise from the charity to help develop revolutionary drugs for Parkinson’s, which affects around 127,000 people in the UK.

Although similar partnerships between charities and research specialists have been formed in the past, this is the first time a charity has directly approached researchers to launch a spin-out company with the aim of advancing one particular research programme. The creation of Keapstone Therapeutics is part of Parkinson’s UK’s new Virtual Biotech venture, formed to combat the lost opportunities in drug discovery and early clinical development caused by the changing pharma landscape. It allows the charity to work virtually – providing leadership and critical funding, in partnership with a range of other organisations that have the facilities and staff to carry out scientific work on a contract basis.

The Commercialisation Team within Research and Innovation Services worked closely with the Sheffield Healthcare Gateway to provide support for this project including advice on potential deal structures and expertise on company incorporation. The team will continue to collaborate with the teams at Keapstone Therapeutics and Parkinson's UK to support further potential exploitation opportunities arising from this exciting research.

Sarah Fulton Tindall, Director of Research and Innovation Services at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted to be working with Parkinson’s UK to support this novel form of commercialisation. This potential therapy can benefit patients worldwide, and gives the University another exciting spin-out company led by our world-class academics."

World-first partnership to develop new drugs for Parkinson’s

Research Ethics & Integrity Workshop: Research in Developing Countries - Wednesday 17 May 2017

Research in developing countries provides an opportunity to make a real, positive difference, but have you thought about the ethical risks, and challenges of maintaining research integrity? This event aims to bring together researchers with a vested interest from disciplines across the University, to hear from a range of internal and external speakers with relevant experience, to discuss and debate the risks and challenges of research in developing countries, and to contribute to the development of University guidance on this area.

Time: 9:30am-12:30pm

Location: Alfred Denny Conference Room, Alfred Denny Building (entrance opposite Student's Union)

Register: Full details, including a draft programme and a registration form can be found here.

Contact: Please email Lindsay Unwin, Team Leader of the Quality and Research Integrity Team in Research & Innovation Services with any queries.

Past news stories


The Commercialisation Team support distribution of University of Sheffield cell lines

Stem CellsHuman stem cell lines developed at the University of Sheffield are, for the first time, going to be distributed by the UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) for potential use in medical therapies and research.

Researchers around the world are studying potential stem cell therapies for many diseases and conditions including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, blindness and spinal injury. The availability of approved lines such as these University of Sheffield cells will, it is hoped, provide even greater opportunity for progress in the field.

World-wide researcher groups that develop technologies towards the clinic will be engaged by the R&IS Commercialisation Team to agree valuable commercial licence terms - granting rights to use the Sheffield cell lines in patient treatments. The Commercialisation Team further support the translation of Sheffield's stem cell technologies by providing guidance on the generation, protection and exploitation of Intellectual Property and by filing multiple patent applications in this portfolio area.

Sarah Fulton Tindall, Director of Research and Innovation Services, said - "It is very exciting to see how such collaborative research and innovation at the University of Sheffield has resulted in translation with the potential for such wide ranging impact for the treatment of a range of conditions and diseases."

UK Stem Cell Bank to distribute University of Sheffield cell lines

REF2021 consultation workshop

23rd Jan 2017

In December HEFCE published a technical consultation on how to implement Lord Stern's recommendations in the next Research Excellence Framework (REF). Since then they have held a number of events around the country, to discuss with academics and institutions the implementation of the proposals.

As numbers were limited to the events, HEFCE have also hosted webinars on the consultation topics to provide information and answers questions. The recordings and slide packs of the webinars have been made available and can be found here.

Read the latest Doctoral Times

Doctoral Times Cover16 Jan 2017

The latest edition of the Doctoral Times, a magazine for doctoral research students, is now available with a focus on Impact. The magazine, produced by the Doctoral Development Team within R&IS,  is introduced by Professor John Derrick and really is packed with interesting information, tips and case studies that illustrate impact - with contributions from PhD students, Research Staff, Fellows, Academics and professional colleagues within R&IS.

This edition is in a new, more accessible & engaging format:

Doctoral Times online

Previous editions of Doctoral Times are available at


Invite to launch symposium for Imagine: Imaging Life

12th Dec 2016

Imagine: Imaging Life

Register by the 23rd Dec to join leading experts at this 2-day conference celebrating the launch of Imagine: Imaging Life, a 2022 Futures initiative. The conference will provide an exciting look at how our groundbreaking imaging techniques help us to understand life in unprecedented detail. Recent technical developments in imaging have brought us one step closer to fulfil an age-old dream to understand life by visualising its molecular components at ultra-high resolution in real time.

Our ability to visualize the inner dynamics of single cells, to comprehend their elaborate structure, to understand their responses to the microenvironment and to disease, and to interpret the fundamental mechanisms of life itself, are all dependent on biological imaging. By combining and harnessing key advances in high-resolution microscopy, we can delve even deeper into the detailed architecture and cellular interactions of biological systems.

The conference will be held on 12-13 January 2017 in the Diamond.

Event details and registration

University of Sheffield spin-out secures investment to develop first-in-class antibiotic

16th Nov 2016

  • Funding will help development of new antibiotics which target highly drug-resistant bacteria
  • 10 million lives a year at risk due to superbug infections
  • Research will focus on FENs – a group of enzymes essential for bacterial cell growth

A new class of antibiotics which target highly drug-resistant bacterial infections could be one step closer after a Sheffield drug discovery spin-out company secured a major investment to tackle one of the world’s biggest health threats.

Defenition Limited, a spin-out company from the University of Sheffield, has agreed funding of up to £415,000 from IP Group plc, the developer of intellectual property-based businesses, to support the vital development of a new class of antibiotics. The continued rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria suggests that by 2050, 10 million lives a year will be at risk due to superbug infections. In order to tackle this global health crisis, the company’s initial focus will be on bacteria that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention view as the biggest drug-resistant threats.

I am delighted that RIS and the Sheffield Healthcare Gateway have brought together an academic with a fantastic research ambition to meet this important societal challenge with our preferred investors IP Group, who bring access to capital and expertise to translate the science to a medicinal use.

Sarah fulton Tindall, Director of research and innovation serviceS

The early-stage drug company, which was formed in May 2016, will commercialise and enhance world-leading research on flap endonucleases (FENs) – a group of bacterial enzymes that are vital for bacterial cell growth due to their essential role in DNA replication – conducted by Professor Jon Sayers from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease. Using its own screening platform, Defenition is identifying small molecule inhibitors of FENs which is a novel approach to tackling highly drug-resistant bacteria in a targeted manner with a reduced likelihood of developing resistance

Jon Sayers, Founder of Defenition and Professor of Functional Genomics at the University of Sheffield, said: “Increasing resistance to antimicrobials is frequently cited as one of the biggest threats to human health.

“We have formed Defenition to address this critical need for new antibiotics. We have an exciting plan to target FENs, a new antibacterial target, that we believe will transform the treatment of highly resistant bacterial infections.”

Defenition continues to work closely with the University of Sheffield, including The Florey Institute for Host-Pathogen Interactions and Sheffield Institute for Nucleic Acids. Part of the funding raised will also sponsor FEN-based drug discovery research within the Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease.

University of Sheffield amongst strongest Horizon 2020 participants

6th Dec 2016

Recent figures show that the University of Sheffield has ranked 7th for the number of Horizon 2020 projects it has participated in and 9th on the basis of the value of funding recieved.

Download the factsheet (150 KB)

For further information Horizon 2020 visit our webpages.

The Public Engagement team supported delivery of the 3rd Festival of the Mind

Nov 2016

Festival of the Mind

The University of Sheffield showcased its world-leading research at the third Festival of the Mind, held last month (15 September to 25 September 2016). The festival is led by Professor Vanessa Toulmin (Director of City and Cultural Engagement) alongside the Public Engagement & Impact Team and other Professional Services across the University.

The festival, which pairs University academics with experts from Sheffield’s cultural and creative industries, attracted 50,000 visitors to its performances, talks, exhibitions, virtual reality experiences and interactive events designed to educate, inform and create debate.

This year’s 11-day festival was spread across the city with lively and engaging events and activities at the Millennium Galleries, the Moor Market, the impressive Spiegeltent outside Barkers Pool, the iconic Sheffield Cathedral and the Winter Garden.

The Public Engagement and Impact Team play a vital role in the delivery of the festival, supporting academics from across all faculties to enable them to bring their research to life, and showcase it to the wider public, through collaborations with local artists.

Greg Oldfield, Head of Public Engagement and Impact commented - “I get to hear about all the fantastic research that is happening at the University. It’s great to work alongside academics and support them in their collaborations with creative partners from across the city. It's a time where I get to work with colleagues across Professional Services - specialists in events, CICS, audio-visual, communications and HR - to create an incredible cross-faculty research engagement festival. It is not only a collaboration between the University and the city, academics and artists, but a cross-faculty collaboration of professional service staff and staff/student volunteers."

Sarah Tindall, Director of Research and Innovation Services added – “Festival of the Mind is another great example of the work the Public Engagement team do to maximise the impact of academic research, using it to inspire and inform a wide audience across the city region.”

Read the full article here

The Government to underwrite Horizon 2020 awards that go beyond the UK's departure from the EU


The Government has announced that it will underwrite the payment of Horizon 2020 awards to UK universities that are awarded whilst we are in the EU but go beyond the UK's departure from the EU. It has also confirmed that all signed multi-year projects administered by the Government with signed contracts or funding agreements in place and projects to be signed before the Autumn Statement e.g., European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) will also be fully funded on the same basis.

Key projects supporting economic development across the UK have also been given the green light, including Sheffield Universities’ Royce Translational Centre which benefits from £4m funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

This encouraging announcement provides stability for universities and academics during this transition period as the UK plans to exit the EU and encourages continued competitive bidding and collaborative working.
The full statement from David Gauke, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, can be read here, but key assurances include:

  • all structural and investment fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.
  • the Treasury will also put in place arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding for specific structural and investment fund projects that might be signed after the Autumn Statement, but while we remain a member of the EU. Further details will be provided ahead of the Autumn Statement.
  • where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects while we are still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond stated:
“The UK will continue to have all of the rights, obligations and benefits that membership brings, including receiving European funding, up until the point we leave the EU. We recognise that many organisations across the UK which are in receipt of EU funding, or expect to start receiving funding, want reassurance about the flow of funding they will receive. That is why I am confirming that structural and investment funds projects signed before the Autumn Statement and Horizon research funding granted before we leave the EU will be guaranteed by the Treasury after we leave. The government will also match the current level of agricultural funding until 2020, providing certainty to our agricultural community, which play a vital role in our country.”

Update posted on behalf of John Derrick (Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation) & Sarah Fulton (Director of Research and Innovation Services). Find further advice on EU funding here.

PhD students show us the power of teamwork and friendship across disciplines

21st June 2016

Doctoral Academy

This week, the Octagon plays host to the first Doctoral Academy Conference. Aimed at PhD students, the whole conference from its design, development and delivery has been led by five PhD students from across the University; adding skills, confidence and valuable experience to their own research.

The organisers have deliberately taken a different approach to traditional academic conferences and designed a programme which is fast-paced, interactive and importantly, offers opportunities for PhD students to network and share experience with their peers. One highlight of the programme is the PechaKucha session where presenters can show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. Requiring a lot of skill and confidence to deliver, the images advance automatically while the presenters talk.

One of the organisers is Gregg Rawlings, a doctoral research student in the School of Medicine (Neuroscience). He added: “My PhD is part of a multi-disciplinary collaboration and so I have experienced how beneficial cross-discipline approaches to research can be for generating new knowledge. This conference is an ideal opportunity for researchers to share ideas, methods and ways to disseminate their findings, while learning practical skills that will help them throughout their PhD and beyond.”

Another organiser is Neslihan Ozdemir, a distance learning PhD student in Turkey from the School of English, she said: “As a PhD candidate in English Language and Linguistics, my motivation to join this awesome Doctoral Academy Conference team was to move forward with doctoral students to experience the power of teamwork and friendship across disciplines. I have really enjoyed being a part of this network and strongly recommend future collaborative activities to come together in the University of Sheffield.”

Doctoral research students are a vital group for the health of the University and the country as a whole.

Professor Douglas, director of the doctoral academy

Professor Douglas, the Director of the Doctoral Academy, adds: “Doctoral research students are a vital group for the health of the University and the country as a whole. They carry out important research in collaboration with our academic staff, they are the pool from which talented academics of the future are recruited but more than this they form the next generation of highly skilled professionals who will work in the nation’s businesses leading in the generation of wealth and growth for the country.

"Doctoral students need to acquire skills that will enable them to succeed in this competitive world and events like this conference provide opportunities for them to exchange ideas, understand different viewpoints and communicate the importance of their work to non-specialists. It is marvellous that a group of doctoral students have worked hard to move this conference from idea to reality.”

The Doctoral Academy

High praise for the University of Sheffield’s Public Engagement and Impact team at industry awards

ARMAAt last night’s Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) awards, the Public Engagement and Impact team within Research & Innovation Services narrowly lost out on the accolade of ‘Public Engagement and Advocacy’ for its work on ‘KrebsFest: Exploring Hidden Worlds’ festival – a celebration of the scientific research of Sir Hans Krebs, Nobel Prize Winner for Physiology or Medicine in 1953 for his pioneering work at the University of Sheffield.

Coming in second place the team’s nomination was one of only four entries shortlisted for the award after facing stiff competition from other universities; the eventual winner was the University of Aberdeen. In addition the team received a highly commended certificate from the judges for KrebsFest.

Professor Simon Foster, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, who nominated the Public Engagement and Impact team for the ARMA award said “This nomination is thoroughly deserved. The advice, guidance and support the team provided for KrebsFest was invaluable to the overall success and delivery of the festival.”

KrebsFest took place in Autumn 2015 and explored Krebs’ legacy through a series of public events and exhibitions. KrebsFest aimed to bring scientific research to the public through strong arts-science collaborations as well as communicating complex scientific messages into creative formats, to bring the unseen world to life and to challenge audience perceptions.

“Congratulations to the team, we are delighted to receive 2nd place at the ARMA awards and very proud of the Public Engagement and Impact team. This is a fantastic way to recognise how instrumental the team were in working with academics across the University to deliver KrebsFest to raise public awareness and understanding of Krebs’ work. The shortlisting alone was a worthy recognition of the hard work and commitment the team delivered to ensure a successful festival,” says Sarah Fulton, Director of Research and Innovation Services.

KrebsFest included nine collaborative projects, new arts commissions, an exhibition and events in Sheffield’s Winter Garden, an exhibition in Western Bank Library, a large-scale public open night, a schools project challenging schoolchildren to make a film about what inspires them about science shown at a dedicated schools night, three talks by Nobel Prize Winners and a launch. The rich programme attracted a wide range of audiences from young children, general public and people with special interest with a total of 122,668 visitors. The public night was hugely popular and very successful in creating a contemporary science communication event which reached a diverse audience.

Further info:

Public Engagement & Impact Team

Krebs Institute

ARMA Awards

R&IS Supports the development of a university spin out, Consequential Robotics, to develop the next generation of robots

31st May 2016

MIROA new company has been formed to bring next generation assistive and companion robots to market by combining University-developed robotics research alongside our Designer in Residence, Sebastian Conran

Consequential Robotics has been co-founded by the award-winning designer Sebastian Conran, together with Professor Tony Prescott and Dr Ben Mitchinson from the University of Sheffield. The company’s main focus will be to develop companion and assistive robotic systems that will enhance quality of life as people age. From the University-side the company will build on twenty years of research developing robots that behave in a life-like way and that use control systems modelled on the brain.

The company’s first product, MiRO, a programmable companion robot that looks and behaves like a pet animal, launched at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Stockholm last week. Initially, MiRO will be marketed to robot researchers interested in developing future companion robots, and to universities doing research in robotics or offering training in robot programming.

Sarah Fulton, Director of Research & Innovation Services commented: "It is fantastic to see University innovations and the design of Sebastian Conran, our Designer in Residence, at the centre of a new commercial venture. We look forward to supporting the long term development of Consequential Robotics and seeing translation of future research developed with Sheffield Robotics"

Read the full story here

Cutting edge medical research ideas at the University of Sheffield receive massive boost

15th Feb 2016

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is accelerating innovative research at the University of Sheffield with new funding which will take ground breaking ideas into industry and out to patients.

The funding, announced today (15 February 2016) by Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson, will see the University of Sheffield receive more than £600,000 in total.

The award is part of three different funding initiatives, set up by the MRC to specifically target different innovation needs including helping universities to seize interdisciplinary ideas at the earliest stage by supporting their investment in concepts that can be high-risk as well as high-potential.

Professor Chris Newman, Faculty Director of Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded £510,000 in partnership with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield Hallam University. This new award will allow us to build upon our success in previous rounds of CIC funding, which since 2012 has supported more than 30 projects, leading to two new spinout companies and leveraged £4 million of new research funding. A further award of £125,000 in the second round of the Proximity to Discovery Scheme gives our researchers a unique opportunity to develop their ideas in partnership with industry at the earliest stage, which will further accelerate the testing and implementation of new treatments and other healthcare innovations.”

The MRC is awarding £23 million in total to UK universities which will encourage exciting science and help to form collaborations.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “This £23m fund provides invaluable support to help develop new ideas into the drugs and methods that will help save and improve lives.”

Read more on this story from MRC here.

CommSubmit your commercial opportunity

It’s now easier to submit a commercial opportunity, or discuss a potential commercialisation idea, using our streamlined enquiry system. Our NEW “two stage” system allows you to have an opportunity assessed, that you think has an industrial application, with minimal upfront effort. Simply complete an Initial Commercial Enquiry (ICE) to obtain information about commercialising your research.

For more information go to our new two stage system or complete an Initial Commercial Enquiry.

CommercialisationUndertaking research with integrity

What does it mean in practice to undertake research with integrity, to do research rigorously, respectfully, responsibly?

We have two high quality resources available to check and improve your knowledge of ethics and integrity issues in research. These are available to all staff, and suitable for all levels and experience. You can spend as much or as little time as you choose, and return to them as often as you like. The online training course gives lots of information and insights in a range of formats, and the self-assessment offers tailored feedback and useful links to improve your knowledge in particular areas. The courses cover all stages of the research process, from inception to publication, and can offer valuable advice to enhance your research.