GW4 Highlights 2019

Take a look at some of our successes over the past year from developing more collaborative research communities and holding our first Climate workshop to partnering with the National Trust and celebrating our 5-year anniversary.

Collaborative Research Communities

We kicked off the year by funding 12 new pump-priming research communities exploring a range of global and industrial challenges from mental health, diabetes and regional business responses to Brexit.

These latest Building Community awards bring GW4’s investment in collaborative research communities to over £2.8m.

GW4 Building Communities Workshop Event

GW4 has 87 collaborative research communities which have generated nearly £40 million in external research income including significant research and equipment grants from MRC, EPSRC and AHRC this year.

GW4 Climate Workshop

Over 70 academics and stakeholders attended our first ever GW4 Climate Workshop to share their areas of research expertise and develop new ideas.

Dame Julia Slingo, former Chief Scientist of the Met Office said: “The GW4 region could become the powerhouse for climate and the environment. It’s great to see events like this encouraging researchers to coalesce around a topic and working at the interfaces of research...GW4 has the potential to deliver real change and train the next generation of scientists necessary.”

GW4 Isambard wins Best Paper

GW4 supercomputer Isambard - the first Arm-based supercomputer in the world to go into production use - won Best Paper at the 2019 Cray User Group Conference in Montreal.

Supporting our GW4 Doctoral Students

GW4 awarded funding to four student-led Mental Wellbeing projects, as part of our GW4 PGR-led Mental Wellbeing Initiative. The initiatives included creating a wellbeing network, local wellbeing toolkit and Laughter Therapy sessions.

GW4 also announced six student-led projects with funding of up to £2000 each as part of the GW4 Doctoral Student Training Scheme.

Both these initiatives formed part of the wider support and host of benefits and opportunities GW4 provides our postgraduate research community. 

GW4 showcased in Research England’s Delivery Plan

GW4 was included in Research England’s 2019 delivery plan as an example of how they support regional consortia; showcasing GW4’s collaborative research and strategic institutional co-deployment of QR funding.

GW4 Crucible 2019: Digital Innovation

 Researchers from across the Alliance took part in this year's Crucible programme which provides exceptional hands-on training and mentoring to develop collaborative research leaders of the future.

Guest speakers at GW4 Crucible included David Sweeney, the Executive Chair for Research England, who was impressed by the 2019 cohort and tweeted his support.

2019 GW4 Water Security Alliance Conference 'Delivering water security through co-designed research'.

Over 110 academics, stakeholders and funders joined to discuss water security and to work towards setting a new agenda in the global water challenge.

Multi-million-pound funding for pioneering new research facilities at GW4 universities.

Research England announced funding for a £100 million digital institute at the University of Bristol and a world-leading research centre at the University of Exeter to solve global challenges.

The projects build on GW4’s regional strengths in digital innovation and our globally recognised excellence in environmental research.

GW4 Early Career Neuroscientist Day

This student-led event returned in 2019, with 100 GW4 researchers attending to discuss best practice, share experiences and hear directly from experts in their field.


VSimulators is a world-class research facility at the universities of Bath and Exeter designed to investigate how people interact with and are affected by buildings and the built environment.

The project started life as a collaborative GW4 research community.

In March construction began on the University of Exeter’s facility which is due to open early next year.

In October over 100 people attended the launch of the first facility hosted at the University of Bath.

The moving chamber is equipped with virtual reality projection to aid the study of people’s reactions to different buildings, including swaying skyscrapers and bridges.

GW4 Celebrates 5-year anniversary

Over 100 leaders from industry, government, funding bodies and academia recognised GW4’s collaborative success over the past five years and heard about our future initiatives.

Interactive research displays provided vivid and interesting examples of the depth and breadth of the alliance and brought our research to life.

GW4 5-year anniversary event

Over the past five years GW4 has invested over £4.6million in research, training and world class facilities. GW4’s total external grant income across our collaborative research communities and doctoral training programmes is over £123million.

Find out more about the GW4 Alliance, our achievements over the past five years and what it can do for you - as an academic, researcher, PhD student, organisation or industry leader.

'Great West' to lead the world in tackling Climate Change

GW4 researchers have already been instrumental in identifying climate change tipping points and with the GW4 region home to more climate expertise than any other area worldwide we can be the region to tackle this global issue.

At our 5-year anniversary event we announced our new strategic research areas in Climate and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

GW4 and National Trust Partnership

We formed a new strategic research partnership with the National Trust focusing on five research themes including climate resilience, well-being and enhancing the audience experience.

UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships

Researchers from each GW4 institution, including two GW4 Crucible alumni, were awarded UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowships to tackle ambitious and challenging research projects.

GW4 3Rs Symposium

Jointly hosted by the NC3Rs (National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research), this event brought together researchers and animal technologists to present the innovative 3Rs-related research taking place across the Alliance with showcase talks and poster presentations.

We renewed our GW4+ NERC Doctoral Training Partnership with the first new cohort starting in October 2019.

PhD training across the biosciences received a massive boost with a £18.5 million funding award from BBSRC to the University of Bristol-led South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership. The SWBio DTP will offer four-year PhD studentships over five cohorts starting in October 2020.

Technician Commitment

All four GW4 Universities are now signatories of the Technician Commitment.

Facility managers and technicians from across GW4 have attended workshops to explore how we can support team science and provide additional cross-institutional support for our Research Technology Professionals.

We look forward to working further with this group next year and implementing some of their ideas and suggestions.

A big thank you to everyone who helped us achieve all this and more over the past year.

GW4 has much to celebrate as we come to the end of our 5-year anniversary and we look forward to delivering more innovative research and developing new collaborations in the future.