Growing social sciences research community tackles regional challenges

A network of social science and humanities researchers in the Midlands is developing new interdisciplinary research projects tackling issues impacting local communities.

Uplifting biodiversity on urban brownfield sites, understanding the long-term impact of covid-19 on SMEs and future-proofing ethnic minority SME owners for net-zero capability are some of the themes being explored by researchers in the Midlands Innovation partnership.

An annual workshop was held at Keele University last month (16 May) for the research network to share insights, research progress, ideas and make connections across the partnership to leverage research collaboration opportunities.

Professor Trevor McMillan OBE, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University welcomed the group to Keele and Rebecca Riley, Associate Professor Enterprise, Engagement and Impact from CityRedi, University of Birmingham delivered a keynote talk on how to engage policymakers and other stakeholders to support collaborative research impact.

Associate Professor, Rebecca Riley said: “Universities can help policymakers develop a strategic case to deliver place-based interventions, through their research. There are real opportunities to deliver meaningful, place-based interventions through collaboration. Shared goals can be achieved, if we listen and engage those with lived experiences in our research.

“There is some really exciting research taking place in the region and the Midlands Innovation partnership is providing a platform to make collaboration and interdisciplinary research even easier, which helps to accelerate impact and create change in communities.”

Professor David Amigoni, Co-Chair of the Inclusive Transformation research group said: “This evolving research network which is part of Midlands Innovation is helping to build capacity around interdisciplinary research.

“The range and scope of research ideas include ways to improve education experiences for children with diverse needs to developing an urban agriculture training network. I am excited to see how these research ideas progress into publications and research grants.”

Sue Clayton, Deputy Director for Midlands Innovation also commented.

She said: “The Inclusive Transformation research platform has grown from strength to strength in the last three years. More researchers are engaging in the network and have kick-started research ideas with seed-corn funding from Midlands Innovation. Thank you to our steering committee and mentors who continue to provide informal support to early career researchers.

“This active research community is generating new ideas and working in partnership with regional stakeholders to deliver research that adds value to our people, place and partnership.”


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