Frequently Asked Questions

A COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIP

Midlands Innovation is a strategic collaborative partnership between the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick. Founded in 2015, the partnership builds upon a prior collaborative partnership M5 which brought together some of those universities to collaborate on issues relating to research efficiency. 

The Midlands Innovation team work to support new and existing research collaborations reporting to a Board that comprises the eight Vice-Chancellors and an Executive Management Group whose membership is normally the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research.   

Flagship initiatives for Midlands Innovation include its Energy Research Accelerator, its TALENT project and its health partnership. 

Midlands Innovation is run by a small team hosted on behalf of the partnership at the University of Nottingham.  All partners in the partnership contribute equally to the running of the partnership. 

WHO IS IN THE TEAM? 

Midlands Innovation has a small team, comprising of:

Dr Helen Turner, MI Director 
Sue Clayton, MI Deputy Director 
Sarah Alton, MI Public Affairs Manager 
Alex Archibald, MI Health Manager  
Ellen McGhee, MI Administrator  

WHY DOES A REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP MATTER? 

The current government has put a strong emphasis on the importance of places.  We see this strongly in the narrative around levelling up.  The government’s R&D roadmap included a section on place and we expect later this year for it to publish its R&D Place Strategy.  There are clear disparities in terms of the levels of public investment in R&D across the country and the recent report “The Missing £4bn: Making R&D work for the whole of the UK” indicated that the Midlands would require £1.4bn/p.a. of extra investment in order to “level up” public sector R&D investment.   UKRI is working to identify its role in funding places and now has the Strength in Places Fund as a vehicle through which it can make place-based investments.  Midlands Innovation is a forum for its members to explore collaborations that are focused on place and on the Midlands region in which we are all located.  It also provides a mechanism to have a collaborative, place-focused dialogue with government and research funders about place-based funding and the Midlands.     

WHO CAN I TALK TO AT MY UNIVERSITY? 

There will be a number of people within your institution who are actively engaged in Midlands Innovation activities.  One good route will be to speak to either your Director of Research or your PVC for Research and they can signpost you to the appropriate institutional representative for any given Midlands Innovation activity.  Alternatively you can contact the Midlands Innovation team and they can signpost you. 

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED? 

There are a number of projects and programmes you can get involved with.  Details of these specific projects are in the next section.  Midlands Innovation frequently puts on events and meetings that are open to academic and technical colleagues to attend.  We are however always keen to hear new ideas for ways in which we can support partners to collaborate. 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COLLABORATING? 

Collaboration brings the partners within Midlands Innovation closer together so that the institutions understand each other better and identify opportunities when rather than operating in silos we find a better chance of success through working together.  It can open up new channels for communication.  Individually Midlands Innovation partners all have excellent research, if we can pool or align those capabilities effectively we are able to unlock investment that we might not be able to achieve individually.   

In some cases challenges that we face as institutions are the same and we are not in competition to solve them.  By working together we can learn from each other’s approaches or co-invest to identify a solution at scale.  Collaborating in this manner can make our institutions more efficient. 

On an individual level collaboration can help you access complementary expertise, find new ways of addressing a research challenge and expose you to new ideas.   

HOW CAN I CONTACT THE TEAM? 

You can contact Midlands Innovation by emailing the people above or info@midlandsinnovation.org.uk 

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE? 

You can learn more about Midlands Innovation and the activities that it is delivering through its website: https://midlandsinnovation.org.uk/ 

Or by following it on twitter @InnovationMids  

WHAT INITIATIVES IS MIDLANDS INNOVATION DELIVERING? 
TALENT 

TALENT is a technician development project funded by £3 million from the Research England Development Fund. TALENT is a four year project which is building an understanding of the future requirements for skilled technicians in the UK HE sector through a national policy commission. TALENT is delivering a programme of training and development opportunities for the Midlands Innovation technical community of over 2100 staff and sharing the learning with the sector. TALENT has initiated the TALENT Policy Commission which will investigate the sector’s future need for technical talent, exploring government policy implications and the impact of increasing focus on collaboration with industry. 

Website: https://www.mitalent.ac.uk/ 

ENERGY RESEARCH ACCELERATOR 

The Energy Research Accelerator is the UK’s largest energy research and innovation partnership. With an initiatlinvestment of £60m from Innovate UK, ERA has leveraged a further £120m from the private sector. This has resulted in 23 state-of-the-art facilities being created at the Midlands Innovation universities, along with several full-scale demonstration sites which demonstrate the commercial application of ERA’s ideas and technologies. ERA is now embarking on securing funding for its new proposal, an ambitious project based around six ‘Big Ideas’ which will help to create 7000 jobs and deliver £1.5 billion investment into the Midlands.  

Website: www.era.ac.uk 

MI HEALTH 

Midlands Innovation Health (MI Health) coordinates and combines the collective excellence of seven Midlands Innovation universities to deliver improved health and regional growth. Driving disruptive translational interventions and influencing nationally, MI Health draws together a critical mass of innovative regional stakeholders to impact national and global health challenges using local training strengths, expertise, networks, best practice and facilities. 

MI Health provides a critical mass of regional health-related research and innovation activity and a platform for delivering disruptive interventions. It also offers a ‘Team Science’ community of good practice, technical expertise and peer support and an ability to rapidly coordinate potential synergies and delivery of joint innovation. 

www.mihealth.org.uk 

MICRA 

The MICRA project brings together Midlands Innovation’s technology transfer office (TTOs) in a programme which is building the largest formal collaboration between TTOs in the UK. MICRA is creating a spinout and start-up ecosystem that will accelerate the universities’ innovations to market by creating a joint pipeline of scalable investment opportunities and creating jobs growth across the Midlands. 

Website: https://micragateway.org/ 

TRANSPORT 

The Midlands Innovation Transport Group brings together expertise in automotive, aerospace, rail and logistics and supply chain management, and encourages cross-sector collaboration and technology solutions. The Transport Group is focusing on areas where collaboration can make a real difference, including freight, and the need to have efficient, resilient systems that can deliver economic and societal well-being.A longer-term Midlands Innovation transport strategy is also being developed which focuses on the four areas of Clean Growth; Transport Systems; Digital and Society.  

Website: https://midlandsinnovation.org.uk/Transport 

SPACE 

The space sector is an important contributor to the UK Economy, and the UK Government’s ambition for growth, place and ‘levelling-up’.  The Midlands Innovation Space Group has formed to meet the needs of that growth. There are more than 800 researchers engaged in space research and development in the Midlands Innovation partnership, and expertise includes space mission design, construction of light satellites and operation through to data processing, analysis and application. The space group is discussing regional opportunities with industry and national bodies, and sharing intelligence on the challenges and opportunities across the space sector.  

Website: https://midlandsinnovation.org.uk/Space 

INCLUSIVE TRANSFORMATION

Future proofing better lives and work in the Midlands to shape the economic and social response to the Covid-19 pandemic over the next decade.  Research pillars focus on economic renewal, wellbeing and prosperity for all, and social diversity and inclusion.  Cross-cutting these pillars are priority areas of transitioning to a digital future and environmental resilience.

EQUIPMENT SHARING 

Midlands Innovation has an equipment sharing scheme which enables researchers from across the MI partnership to utilise equipment owned by each of the MI partner universities. Details of the equipment available can be found here: 

https://midlandsinnovation.org.uk/Equipment-Database 

In addition, there is also a Technician Led equipment sharing scheme, enabling technicians to support access to equipment for research purposes:  

https://www.mitalent.ac.uk/Technician-Led-Equipment-Sharing