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Spotlight on Excellence with Impact

  • Apply by the end of January for a chance to reap the rewards

With the initial deadline for BBSRC's Excellence with Impact competition drawing closer, we hear how the University of Dundee's College of Life Sciences (CLS) embraced impact to win the BBSRC's Excellence with Impact, Social Innovator of the Year, and Overall Innovator of the Year awards in 2011.

The University of Dundee's Professor Kate Storey, coordinator of the CLS's Excellence with Impact application, said: "At the College of Life Sciences we endeavour to maximise impact from all of our research. We've contributed to the development of a regional biotechnology cluster, collaborated widely with industry, incubated fledgling companies and participated extensively in public engagement."

The University team received the awards as a result of wide ranging and tangible achievements of both social and economic benefit. They had an impressive number of staff engaged in enterprise activities, and had clearly understood how to incentivise, recognise and reward staff for their impact activities.

Jason Swedlow, Professor of Quantitative Cell Biology at the University of Dundee, collects his award and £10,000 as Innovator of the Year 2011.
Image: Andrew Davis

"This award was not only recognition of our hard work, but also supported our continuing efforts to develop and prioritise innovation at CLS," added Professor Jason Swedlow, 2011 Innovator of the Year.

"We used funds from the Innovator of the Year Award to sponsor a day-long meeting called 'Celebrating Innovation', which brought together scientists, clinicians, students, funders, and representatives of government to discuss the development of environments like Dundee's CLS that help to drive innovation. Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. Following this, CLS founded its own Innovator of the Year award that recognises innovation driven by students and research fellows."

Professor Kate Storey added: "Both taking part in the first competition and winning the award money in 2011 has delivered huge benefits for the whole research organisation and has enabled us to build on their success,"

The University has used some of the award money to create a BBSRC Excellence with Impact Networking Centre. This space will create a meeting area and seminar room for networking events with local, national and international biotechnology companies and for interdisciplinary brainstorming to engender innovation and new scientific directions.

The University has also created a permanent Life Sciences exhibit, including the development of an interactive component of the Life Sciences Zone at the Dundee Science Centre.

Professor Swedlow said: "Another excellent benefit of taking part in the awards has been the strong partnerships that we have formed with BBSRC. It's provided great insights into achieving impact and routes for further funding."

All those taking part in the inaugural competition worked in partnership with BBSRC for over two years with BBSRC staff visiting to help scientists explore the potential for social and economic impact from their research alongside a relevant institution-wide culture change.

BBSRC Senior Innovation and Skills Programme Manager, Simon Cutler, said: "Getting involved couldn't be easier. The initial stage is for brief expressions of interest to be submitted by the end of January. Once on board, BBSRC will provide support throughout the duration of the competition. We've already had interest from many of our top-funded research organisations and expect to see the majority of them apply by the end of the month."

For the current competition, as well as potentially winning awards totalling £1M and benefiting from direct interactions, BBSRC will recognise and accredit the achievements of all entrants who excel in demonstrating their commitment to maximising impact.

The deadline to apply is 31 January 2013. If you have any questions or queries about the competition, BBSRC is offering a hotline between 12pm and 4pm on the 11th January.

Call: Dr Anuj Bhatt, Innovation and Skills Programme Manager, +44 1793 413390 or Dr Simon Cutler, Senior Innovation and Skills Programme Manager, +44 1793 413243.

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Tags: innovation people skills and training news