Preparing to go live with our flagship research institutes

As we prepare to go live with our new flagship research institutes later this month, Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research, explains our bold and ambitious vision for the institutes, gives an overview of the resource and support in place, and outlines what we can expect for 'go live' week.

Dave Petley

"At the end of this month we will officially go live with our four flagship research institutes – Energy, Healthy Lifespan, Neuroscience, and Sustainable Food.

"We have a bold and ambitious vision for our new research institutes. In their entirety they will enhance the reputation of the University and position us as global leaders in research.

"In their own areas the institutes will tackle the rapidly increasing global epidemic of multimorbidity; develop an affordable and clean energy future that is safe, secure and sustainable; improve the lives of patients and families affected by devastating neurological diseases; and create new solutions to sustain and improve the world’s future food supplies.

"These are some of the most pressing global, social, economic and health challenges facing the world today. They are also challenges we can solve by working together across the traditional boundaries of our research fields. This is our chance to ensure greater impact from our world-leading research, building on many of our acknowledged areas of research excellence.

"From world-class research centres at faculty and department level to interdisciplinary work on strategic research initiatives, it’s clear that bringing researchers together allows us to contribute impactful solutions to global challenges.

"The flagship research institutes will initially bring together nearly 300 researchers from across the University and our vision is for organic growth as more and more people join the team. Tackling these great global challenges requires interdisciplinary and translational research, and we need researchers at all levels and in all areas to offer their insights and contributions.

"I am proud of the work we do at Sheffield and I hope we can capture Sheffield’s collegiate spirit and culture in our research by working together as one university. As we work closely with each institute to prepare for 'go live', it is increasingly clear that bringing together our experts in this way will bring many additional benefits, from attracting large-scale funding and prospective students to supporting early career researchers.

"I do of course realise that there are many examples of flourishing research excellence at Sheffield that do not fit the flagship research institute model and further work will be conducted to effectively position the flagship research institutes alongside these areas. As part of an initiative that looks at the broader portfolio of institutes and centres at Sheffield we are also carefully considering the governance, structures and central support that is needed for the different types of research units that exist within the University.

"At an institutional level, our role is to offer resources, oversight and organisational support to the new institutes. All four have received central support from the University that includes partial buy-out for the directors, who will report to myself; a part-time administrator; support for annual running costs and two centrally-provided PhD studentships per annum. Support will be facilitated via the annual planning round, with engagement from Faculty Vice-Presidents.

"Professional Services support is also being provided by dedicated teams in Research Services; Corporate Communications; Development, Alumni Relations and Events; Partnerships and Regional Engagement; and Global Engagement. We are developing new websites for each institute, a new visual identity in line with the University brand, explainer videos, and lead feature stories. These will be ready to use from 'go live', week commencing 29 April 2019.

"Each institute is also working towards an individual launch tailored to their stakeholders and objectives. This stage will include high profile, external communications.

"I will make sure to keep you updated over the coming weeks.

"If you would like to discuss how you can get involved or if you have any questions, please email flagships@sheffield.ac.uk."

Thank you for your support; it is much appreciated,

Professor Dave Petley

Vice-President for Research