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Birkbeck academic to play a significant role in new £7 million centre of excellence in research and innovation funding

The new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) initiative, namely the Innovation and Research Caucus, aims to build a thriving research and innovation ecosystem.

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The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) national funding agency, a non-departmental Government body which invests in science and research in the UK, is investing in a new network, the Innovation and Research Caucus (IRC), to create a world leading centre of excellence in research and innovation funding.

The interdisciplinary approach adopted by the IRC will connect academics from various fields across the UK to provide practical insights on research and innovation policy development, implementation, and evaluation for UKRI.

In doing this, the IRC will bring together academics from prominent universities across the UK, including Birkbeck's Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Muthu De Silva. Professor De Silva will be, among other contributions, leading the IRC work stream on co-creation. Co-creation is defined as a process of different actors, such as universities, businesses, government, intermediaries and society, working together by integrating their knowledge, skills, resources and networks in order to simultaneously generate academic, business and social value. The significance of co-creation to resolve challenges or seize opportunities needing a close working relationship between different actors makes it worthwhile to achieve the ambitious targets of the IRC.

The caucus also includes leading researchers from Oxford Brookes University, the University of Cambridge, Warwick University and the University of Manchester. The IRC will be co-directed by Professor Tim Vorley, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Oxford Brookes Business School, and Professor Stephen Roper, Professor of Enterprise at Warwick Business School.

Professor De Silva commented: I am delighted to have this opportunity to contribute to the IRC to simultaneously generate theoretically rigorous and practically impactful output with greater societal and economic benefits. By building on my expertise in co-creation, I am very much looking forward to working with amazing IRC researchers, UKRI and other relevant stakeholders of the ecosystem in this new centre of excellence."

Professor Julian Swann, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at Birkbeck added: "I offer my congratulations to both Muthu and the whole team of leading academics involved in the IRC. We are looking forward to the actionable insights that will be delivered from this initiative, and of course, co-creating further opportunities with the UKRI and social science researchers."

The IRC represents an opportunity to further enhance the contribution of social sciences to UKRI's evidence requirements, expanding its scope to cover both innovation and research funding. Over the next three years, the IRC aims to increase the utilization of robust evidence and insights in UKRI's strategies and investments.

By strengthening UKRI's role in the UK Science and Technology Framework, the IRC will contribute to achieving greater societal and economic benefits from research and innovation.

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said:

"UKRI needs access to a robust and actionable evidence base. It also needs to bring together people with different skillsets and experience, who can work with UKRI to understand and implement the changes needed to build a thriving, inclusive research and innovation system which delivers for citizens across the UK.

"The Innovation and Research Caucus will have a vital role to play in providing powerful insights into what works, where and why. I look forward to working with the Caucus to create and use those insights to optimise the support we provide to the UK's outstanding research and innovation system."

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