Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Western Institutions Form Posse in Bid for a Fistful of Research Dollars

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Western Institutions Form Posse in Bid for a Fistful of Research Dollars

Article excerpt

Four UK universities join forces to gain competitive edge in funding shoot-out. Elizabeth Gibney writes.

The universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter are the latest institutions to club together in an effort to maximise their research strengths in the face of increasing competition.

Launched on 24 January, GW4, which stands for Great Western Four, is a formal collaboration set to rival the existing N8 alliance of research- intensive universities in the North of England and the M5 group in the Midlands.

Dame Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, said that, taken together, the institutions' breadth and depth of research expertise would provide "a powerful new contender in the increasingly intense competition for research funding on both the national and international level".

In differing combinations the institutions already collaborate on four research council doctoral training centres, as well as on programmes in translational medicine, food security, chemical catalysis and technology transfer.

According to the University of Bristol's deputy vice-chancellor, David Clarke, the alliance will build on these existing collaborations and lead to cooperation in research grant applications, IT procurement, infrastructure and equipment sharing.

Although no large joint capital investments are currently planned, ideas will "almost certainly" be put on the table in the future, such as in high-performance computing, said Professor Clarke. "Perhaps we could have some joint capital investment in the longer term, as well as doctoral training and staff appointments - both for permanent staff and those visiting from around the world," he told Times Higher Education.

The main driver behind the formation of the group was funders' increasing interest in research cooperation. "The bids that are cooperative can not only look better in terms of capability and capacity but are more likely to be successful," Professor Clarke said. …

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