University of Edinburgh selected as finalist

Nearly two years ago we wrote a short article for SPROUT describing our participation in the BBSRC sponsored ‘Excellence with Impact’ competition. The idea behind the competition is to show how our world-leading research in biology is being appreciated and used both by the public (‘Public Engagement’) and by business (‘Knowledge Exchange’). This two-year extravaganza involving 30 UK institutions is reaching its climax and the winner will be announced in May this year. The good news is that Edinburgh was selected as one of the ten finalists. 

Our Edinburgh working group consists of an enthusiastic team of post graduate students, post docs and staff from the Roslin Institute, the School of Biological Sciences, Edinburgh Research and Innovation and the Institute for Academic Development. This team has put together an impressive number of events to encourage everyone (students to PIs) to think about, and participate, in ‘impact’; for example we launched the Future Impact awards which inspired some really imaginative proposals.  Other successful innovations include the annual Recognising Excellence Awards, and popular workshops on Leadership and Entrepreneurship. During the past two years we have seen a huge upsurge in interest from all students and staff in being involved in the many science festivals and workshops organised in and around Edinburgh. These and many more examples provide tangible evidence that the competition has indeed catalysed some lasting and positive changes. 

A more complete overview of all the effort of the EwI working group was sent in a final in December 2015 and you can download this below.

A panel of experts reviewed the reports and interviewed all 30 teams and they have selected 10 finalists who are now in the running for the prize pot of £500K.

At a conservative estimate, the competition nationwide has cost more than 20 person-years of effort.  A question not infrequently raised at the start of the competition was whether it would really be worth the effort.  We think it was. Even if we do not win the prize, the evident increased levels of engagement across our Schools clearly justify the two years of hard work put in by the EwI committee. The importance of ‘Impact’ is ever increasing – likely making a contribution of 25% in the next REF –  and the efforts of the current and future EwI committees will provide very useful material, and indeed some well-crafted prose, to be incorporated in our next submission (which always seems to  be just round the corner).