13 June 2017

Key discussion points and outcomes

Research grant competitor analysis The Board received a paper from Anita Gurney, Head of Research Support, which benchmarked the University’s research grant and contract income against its post-92 comparator group; examining five to ten year income trends and the research portfolio by income source. The University continues to remain in the top ten of post-92 institutions for research income. Income has flat-lined over the last four to six years at an average of £7.9 million p.a. In contrast, average income for the comparator group has steadily increased, although the picture for individual institutions is mixed with new stars emerging. The University is heavily reliant on income from UK and EU government sources and consideration should be given to moving towards a more mixed economy targeting, for example, prestigious national funding such as the Research Council’s Global Challenges Research Fund and the emerging Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The Board agreed that it will be made mandatory for all research and knowledge transfer applications being prepared for the UK Research Councils to undergo peer review in line with the University’s Peer Support Policy (2016).

Further actions:
– RIO will now conduct a further piece of work to present deeper thinking on how the University should respond to the challenges set out in the paper, particularly looking at institutional bidding practice, behaviours and success rates.
– Peter Wells, Assistant Dean (Research and Knowledge Transfer), will lead a piece of work to more clearly articulate contract research opportunities and to present his findings to the Board in the autumn.

5 Year Research and Knowledge Exchange Data The Board was asked to approve the recommendation that Faculty Assistant Deans (FADs) of Research work with the Directors of Institutes and Centres that have not achieved sustained income growth, to develop institute or centre-specific plans to reverse this (using existing resources and based on a 1-2 year plannig cycle). This proposal (with the addition of more detailed financial data) was supported and the FADs were tasked with presenting an action plan to the Board in the autumn.
– Knowledge Exchange: Key Funding and Major Opportunities Update
It was confirmed that the two leading ‘Connected Capabilities Fund’ bids described in the paper would be supported by the Board and should be progressed.
– Knowledge exchange update
Lloyd Snellgrove, Director of Research and Innovation, presented an update on the Sheffield Innovation Programme confirming that the project is on target contractually. Alex Prince, Head of Knowledge Transfer, and Wayne Cranton, Assistant Dean (Research), Faculty of ACES were asked to present a plan for utilising the underspend at the next Board meeting.

How the Research and Innovation office (RIO) best supports the faculties to implement the University Strategy The Board received a presentation which asked 4 key questions

  1. What services provided by RIO do you use and value?
  2. How could RIO work differently to the way it does now?
  3. What role (s) should RIO play – facilitator, enabler, driver, gatekeeper?
  4. What else could RIO do to help the faculties and University achieve its transformational aims?

The following observations were made

  • In-depth expertise and analysis is highly valued
  • Expert leadership is valued
  • RIO should consider a partnership model approach that recognises the partnership between centralised and local delivery models and should deliver more consistency. This may be covered by the PSOM project.

Pillar Board key performance indicators (KPIs) Tom Russell, Head of Strategic Planning and Intelligence, asked the Board to provide feedback on the proposed University KPIs, reflecting on their relevance to the Creating Knowledge strategic objectives. Tom will now work collaboratively with Board members to develop a set of Creating Knowledge-specific KPIs and present these at a subsequent meeting.


1. Apologies for absence
2. Record of the meeting on 2 May 2017
3. Research grant competitor analysis and research grant and contracts income analysis
4. 5 year research and knowledge exchange data
– Innovation priority funding update
– Knowledge exchange update
– Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) comparison
5. How RIO best supports the faculties to implement the University Strategy
6. PhD bursaries proposal (postponed until next meeting)
. Pillar Board key performance indicators
8. Work plan and next steps (not discussed)
9. AOB


Paul Harrison (Chair), Wayne Cranton, Christina Hughes, John Leach, Ann Macaskill, David Morley, Jill Nanson, Martin Conway, Chris Husbands, Jo Solecki, Doug Cleaver, Emma Scoffield, Lloyd Snellgrove, Peter Wells, Helen Roberts (Secretary)  and guests presenting items.