The University's 14 new Research Centres were officially launched on Wednesday at an online event led by the Provost, Professor Rebecca Lingwood. Setting the scene, Professor Lingwood spoke of the University's research in these challenging times – in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impacts of Brexit – and within the complex context of investors, funders, local communities, business, government, and many more stakeholders.
"What we certainly need to do, and are doing, is to continue to use those levers at our disposal to support a diverse portfolio of outstanding research and innovation, and to support the people and the infrastructure which is needed to deliver that," she said, before giving an update on the progress of the Brunel 2030 Research Strategy implementation. The directors of each of the new Research Centres gave a short presentation to the attendees from across the University – numbering 400 throughout morning and afternoon sessions – on their research focus and priorities, and how they align with the Strategic Challenge Areas introduced by the Research Strategy.
The launch took place as part of the first Interdisciplinary Research Forum: an initiative developed from the new Interdisciplinary Board that brings together the directors of the Research Institutes and the members of the Research Centres. Short presentations were also given by the four Research Institute directors about fostering and enhancing challenge-led interdisciplinary research across the University – to the accompaniment of ideas sparked by ways in which the Research Centres can work together in this way.
"I can feel the excitement coming through in the chat comments, which is really heartening to see and bodes well for the future," Professor Lingwood commented.
She also gave a short introduction to Brunel Public Policy: a new unit which will be launched formally over the spring. Led by its founding director, Professor Justin Fisher, it builds on the partnership Brunel has had in recent months with the government's Open Innovation Team. It is designed to enable our research to inform policy-makers, legislators and regulators, and to enhance public life by solving problems, helping decision-makers arrive at better solutions, and supporting the work of public and third-sector organisations – putting the needs of society at the heart of Brunel's academic activity.
The afternoon's proceedings saw the new Research Centre directors and members come together for their inaugural meetings, including planning future Research Centre activities. The new Research Centres are based in Colleges alongside continuing Research Centres, together with both new and continuing Department-level Research Groups, with BCAST completing the picture.
The new Research Centres
All Research Institutes, Research Centres and Research Groups have websites available at https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-directory