10 years of the GW4 Alliance

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2023 marks the 10-year anniversary of the GW4 Alliance, a partnership between four research-intensive and leading UK universities - Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter.

To celebrate the past 10 years and to launch their new strategic vision, the GW4 hosted an event at the ICC Wales on the 5th of May which I was fortunate to have been invited to.

The event was a great opportunity to reflect on the opportunities and accomplishments provided by the alliance over the past 10 years, and to consider how the 4 universities can work together around the 4 new strategic priority areas over the next 5 years.

I was tasked with leading a thematic discussion on the strategic area of tackling global challenges through advanced cyber and digital, and it was fantastic to be part of the broad and insightful discussions. GW4 is uniquely placed to take a leading role in advancing cyber and digital transformation, from human behaviour to hardware, and I am excited to see the 4 universities working closely on this area over the next 5 years and beyond.

To celebrate 10 years of the GW4, I invited Dr Joanna Jenkinson (Director of the GW4) to guest write the blog, to share some of her reflections on the GW4, and explain how and why researchers at the University of Bath can get involved.


What is the GW4 Alliance?

GW4 is an alliance of four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. Collaboration is at the heart of everything GW4 does and working together really does make us greater than the sum of our parts. GW4 has a unique geography and is the only research alliance to collaborate across England and a devolved nation (Wales). We are also the only university alliance that provides both an annual programme of professional development for our early career researchers, and funding for new internal and external partnerships. In doing so, GW4 supports our people to develop and build research and innovation activities with each other and with a huge network of external partners. GW4 supports engagement between the universities and other organisations to drive research, innovation, policy development and economic growth.


What are your GW4 highlights from the past 10 years?

GW4 has much to be proud of over the past 10 years. Since 2013, through GW4 collaboration, our universities have worked together with more than 400 business and non-academic partners to create and deliver bespoke activities to develop our people and build on our research and innovation strengths. GW4 has funded and supported over 100 research and innovation communities, which have generated our highest return on investment to date – for every £1 we invest they generate over £20 in external funding, which is an incredible accomplishment and recognition of the excellence research and innovation undertaken by our communities. It is always fantastic to see how our communities grow, one community initiated by GW4 developed into the state-of-the-art VSimulators research facility we have here at Bath and in Exeter. Not only does GW4 drive world leading research and innovation but it also supports and develops our people, from ECRs and postgraduate researchers to our technical staff community. For example, I’m delighted to see the GW4 Crucible programme go from strength to strength in supporting our early career researchers in their professional development and research leadership.


What are you looking forward to in the GW4 over the next 5 years?

I am really excited for the next 5 years of GW4. We have identified four strategic research priorities: tackling global challenges through advanced cyber and digital transformation, accelerating the transition to sustainable Net Zero, capitalising on creative communities to foster sociocultural growth, and advancing health and wellbeing research and innovation for all. These are not only areas of strength for GW4 but also areas of great opportunity. By working together, along with external partners, we can address some of the world’s most pressing complex challenges and leave a positive impact on society.


Why should people at the University of Bath engage with the GW4?  

GW4 provides fantastic opportunities including funding, professional development schemes and access to world leading research facilities and collaboration. Some of the most pressing global issues are incredibly complex and as such require an interdisciplinary response to help tackle them. By working with colleagues across GW4 and with our partners we gain different insights and knowledge to co-create solutions that look across the breadth of an issue.


How can researchers at the University of Bath engage with the GW4?

There are many ways to get involved with GW4. Take a look at their brand-new website, follow us on twitter, and sign up to receive our newsletter to keep up to date with all our news, events and funding opportunities.



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