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University of Manchester Research Institute (UMRI)

“Interdisciplinary research will be nurtured and supported through The University of Manchester Research Institute in the search for interdisciplinary solutions to major societal and scientific challenges.” Strategic Vision 2020

The University of Manchester Research Institute (UMRI) has been created to take forward the Manchester Strategic Vision 2020 goal of establishing the University as a major centre for interdisciplinary research.  UMRI has two principal aims:

  • To provide a governance framework for research institutes and other interdisciplinary structures in the University to assist in maximising their performance.
  • To foster interdisciplinary research by ensuring that the necessary structures, resources (including funding) and incentives are in place

Governance of UMRI

The principal governing body of UMRI, the UMRI Board, chaired by the Vice-President for Research and Innovation, sets the overall strategy for UMRI and is the reporting line for bodies falling within the UMRI remit. The Board monitors and evaluates the performance of institutes and networks, to consider the need for their continuation and to ratify the formation of new university institutes and networks.

UMRI exists alongside faculties and schools in the University Ordinances. Research Institutes are required to have a Management Board chaired by a Vice President and Dean, to report to the Policy and Resources Committee and to have a Director.  All University Institutes and Networks will be monitored by UMRI and provide to it an annual report. Institutes will continue to have a lead Faculty and/or School and report through that for line management and budgetary purposes. For some (normally smaller) Institutes the annual review by UMRI will replace existing governance structures. In other cases existing separate arrangements involving more frequent governance meetings will be continued. UMRI will still conduct an annual review of their report.

UMRI will oversee all research institutes and take leading responsibility for nurturing the emergence of new cross-cutting themes and networks. To avoid repeating earlier confusions, UMRI will retain ultimate control over the use of the term “institute” and also be responsible for resolving any other issues in relation to nomenclature.

A list of University research institutes and networks  can be found here

Foster interdisciplinary research by ensuring that the necessary structures, resources (including funding) and incentives are in place

Funds will be made available for strategic investments to build sustainable interdisciplinary activities. These will normally be awarded via two routes:

  • the funding of University Research Networks
  • an annual pump-priming competition.

University Research Networks

University Networks carry responsibility for key areas but function where there is dispersed capability. Their role is to create and manage synergy by coordination of research within their domains. They will normally be led (part-time) by a senior academic with some administrative support. University Research Networks are intended to build on areas of existing research strength by bringing together a critical mass of expertise from across the University with four key aims:

  • to address large-scale multidisciplinary research challenges
  • to increase our capacity to influence national and international research, policy and funding agendas
  • to strengthen internal interdisciplinary research collaborations
  • to provide a platform for large-scale funding applications, recruitments and international research partnerships.

University Research Networks are intended to be more flexible and operate with significantly less resource and support than University Research Institutes. Typically there will be no significant capital element or large scale budget. University Research Networks are required to have a Director and Advisory Board and/or Steering Committee. The Advisory Board/Steering Committee should include representatives from across the University and external stakeholders.  University Research Networks will be supported by UMRI through the provision of funds to support leadership, administration and some associated activities.

Financial support for newly proposed University Research Networks will typically take the form of modest pilot funding to be accompanied by evidence of additional support from a lead faculty. This pilot funding will support meetings and other community building activities that enable a clearer case to be made for recognition of the proposed Network. More recurrent funding will be dependent upon successful achievement of the Networks’ initial objectives as evidenced by a report submitted to the UMRI Board.

The UMRI Board will expect University Research Networks to contribute to the University’s research objectives and reserves the right to withdraw funding from individual Networks where their added value is no longer demonstrated.

Pump Priming Competition

The UMRI Pump Priming scheme was created to provide support for activities that will lead to an increase in successful interdisciplinary research across the University. Funds are awarded in competition to proposals that aim to support and pump-prime new interdisciplinary research programmes which seek to release synergies between existing clusters of excellence. The call is open to researchers in all disciplines who are eligible to apply for external research grants. A call for applications with a maximum duration of 6 months is usually issued in September and projects should be completed no later than 31 July.

A summary of projects funded under the first three calls is available here

UMRI Enquiries

Enquiries relating to all aspects of the University of Manchester Research Institute should be made to James Evans, Secretary to the UMRI Board (Tel: 52194, email james.evans@manchester.ac.uk)