MI welcomes research council leaders to the region

Panelists showcase the region's work to address health inequalities through research

Midlands Innovation is proud to have recently hosted two research council visits of to the Midlands. The visits enabled leaders from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) to hear about the research and collaboration taking place across the MI partnership, and how partners are playing a significant and leading role in the thriving research and innovation ecosystem in the Midlands. 

On 28th June, MI Health (a partnership of the Midlands seven leading health and medical schools) arranged a Midlands community visit for senior officials from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to meet with colleagues from across the region.

Opening the event which was held at Loughborough University, Dr Jonathan Pearce, Director of Strategy and Planning for the MRC, set out the research council’s strategic priorities. A roundtable discussion with Midlands university representatives considered challenges for the sector and provided a regional perspective on areas for future collaboration.

Presentations and panel sessions showcased innovative initiatives to improve research culture, and to highlight how research in the Midlands is addressing health inequalities. Examples included; the three regional Wellcome Trust-funded research culture projects at the Universities of Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham, the region’s ambitions to further develop initiatives to support mid-career researchers, the new Midlands Research Culture Network, established to provide a forum for best practice sharing. Midlands strengths in Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement were emphasised by a panel from across the region.

Dr Jonathan Pearce said: “MRC was delighted to be able to partner with MI to deliver the inaugural Community Visit for the Midlands.

“Engaging with our diverse Higher Education Institution (HEI) community is a key part of MRC’s strategy. It was fantastic to speak with local leaders and hear about the fantastic work already taking place and opportunities for the future, including in the areas of improving research culture and addressing health inequalities”.

Dr Jonathan Pearce, Director of Strategy and Planning at the MRC, addresses MI Health colleagues during a visit in June 2024

On the 3rd July, MI welcomed Professor Charlotte Deane, the Executive Chair of EPSRC, and her colleagues to the West Midlands, for a visit hosted at Aston University.

Professor Deane spoke to representatives of Midlands Innovation universities about the research council’s future plans. Representatives from the MI partnership provided presentations to EPSRC leaders on:

  • Midlands Mindforge, an innovative patient capital investment vehicle established by MI partners to attract greater investment into spinout companies and other IP rich businesses in the Midlands.
  • MI’s work in nationally championing the role of technicians including being founding signatories of the Technician Commitment and through the landmark MI TALENT Commission findings, which led to the creation of the UK Institute for Technical Skills and Strategy (ITSS), hosted by the University of Nottingham.
  • The eight Centres for Doctoral Training that MI partners were recently awarded to train the next generation of researchers who will help find the solutions for topics of national importance. 

There were also breakout discussions between EPSRC officials and representatives from across the MI partnership on people, skills and research culture, and on innovation. In the people, skills and culture session, partners were able to highlight the work of Midlands Innovation in championing Professional Research Investment and Strategy Managers (PRISMs), and to further showcase Midlands research culture activity. During the session on Innovation, representatives discussed the work of MI partners in attracting investment into spinouts and start-ups where research by Beauhurst shows that the Midlands has untapped investment potential. The session also underlined the support that partners provide to businesses in the region, with a particular focus on small and medium sized enterprises.

Midlands Innovation Director, Dr Helen Turner, said: “It’s a privilege to host senior leaders from both the EPSRC and MRC, and to provide an opportunity for them to meet with and hear from representatives from across the MI partnership.

“Both visits went extremely well and partners were able to showcase not only the breadth of medical and engineering and physical sciences research taking place here, but also the extent of the collaboration that underpins it.

“I believe the strength and depth of research collaboration that MI partners are leading in the Midlands provides a compelling case to research council leaders, and we look forward to continuing the discussions with EPSRC and the MRC on areas of future mutual opportunities.”



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