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Friday 23 March
My.Anglia > Rido > Innovation > strategic innovation opportunities

strategic innovation opportunities

Are you interested in taking part in a series of research and innovation opportunities that will help solve society’s greatest challenges? Then read on...

Wellbeing at Work Sandpit - Call for Participants

What is the ‘sector strategy’?
At ARU, we have identified four key ‘sectors’ (research themes or clusters of specialist knowledge and expertise) that reflect our multi-disciplinary strengths. They are:

  1. Blue Lights
  2. Creative and Digital
  3. Future Cities
  4. Smart and Assisted Living

These sectors represent an opportunity for you to work with colleagues in other faculties, develop your networks, widen your research interests and contribute your knowledge and expertise to tackle some of society’s biggest global challenges.

The sector strategy, which underpins these sectors, is an opportunity to bring multi-disciplinary teams together and apply the breadth and depth of our research to tackle key issues and challenges facing our society. By creating collaborative partnerships between academia and the public/private sectors, we will be able to bid into larger scale research funding opportunities and increase our research output and impact, helping to achieve our institution’s ambitious targets. 

Why should I get involved?
Getting involved in ARU’s key sector-related research and innovation activities can be a rewarding experience and a gateway to many career enhancing prospects, such as the opportunity to:

  • Achieve impact through your research, which could contribute to REF.
  • Apply your knowledge and expertise to current ’real world’ scenarios to validate your research.
  • Develop long term relationships with the business sector, which can help you identify new research themes.
  • Inform your teaching activities, including case studies and data for teaching and potentially identify and develop projects for your undergraduate and/or postgraduate students.
  • Provide employment opportunities for your most promising graduates.
  • Networking opportunities.
  • Generate income for your faculty/department.

No really, why should I get involved?
By giving an organisation, whether an SME, multi-national or public sector body access to our research and knowledge we can help them get their innovation to market and build a stronger future for the company by transferring and embedding that knowledge into the company. We will also build stronger links between universities and organisations that will foster longer term relationships meaning we develop opportunities to draw down further funding or are commissioned to do further work together in the future.

Why has ARU decided to create a sector-specific strategy?
We’re an ambitious institution. By developing a sector-specific strategy we will ensure that our academic community is well positioned to capitalise upon future opportunities for large-scale, multi-disciplinary, research-led activity that complements our distinct capabilities. This is in turn will leverage further competitive advantage that will bolster our reputation in the marketplace as the ‘go-to university for near-market solutions’.

How did ARU identify the four research clusters?
We have conducted a thorough capability mapping process that identifies our academic community’s research strengths. This detailed map highlights that we have a critical mass of expertise in these four areas across all of our faculties and institutes. 
The capability map is continuously being updated and as we evolve, so too will our research strengths and clusters. 

Who is part of the Sector Strategy team?
The team comprises Dave Rutt (Strategic Projects Manager) and James Smith (Sector Project Officer). Both are based within the Research and Innovation Development Office on our Chelmsford campus (Eastwood House). 

Each of the four key sectors is also championed by a Sector Lead:

  1. Dr Sam Lundrigan (Blue Lights)
  2. Dr Jan Storgards (Creative and Digital)
  3. Not in post (Future Cities)
  4. Dr Gary Bellamy (Smart and Assisted Living)

How can the Sector Strategy team help me?
In simple terms, the Sector Strategy Team can provide a match-making service. For example, you might be an expert in the field of nutrition and have an idea for an application that will help young children eat healthier and reduce childhood obesity. You want to run a feasibility test, but need access to a public sector partner and academics who specialise in psychology and social media.

The sector team will be able to help you identify other ARU academics across other faculties whose expertise may complement yours and potentially help to source an external partner, as well as helping you to identify any suitable funding calls.

More example case studies of previous sector-specific projects can be found below:

  • REACTOR (part of the Digital and Creative sector)
  • SeasToGrow (part of the Smart and Assisted Living sector)


We run a number of 'Sandpits' through the year, plus a number of events in partnership with external organisations. All our events can be found on our RIDO events page.

Wellbeing at Work Sandpit - Call for Participants

Venue: MAR111/112 Chelmsford, Wednesday 18 April
Deadline for Registration: Friday 13 April

Scope and Background

This is a call for interested ARU academics to register for a facilitated sandpit focussed on the theme of Wellbeing at Work being held in Chelmsford on 18 April 2018.

The Sandpit is designed to bring together participants who would not usually work together to highlight areas of common interest.

Participants will help identify research activities which combine research specialisms and create interdisciplinary proposals on Wellbeing at work that respond to ARU’s focus on societal challenges within Future Cities, Smart and Assisted Living and Blue Lights.

The sandpit will open with a series of presentations which explore the topic of Wellbeing at Work and the issues facing the priority sectors.  Participants will then create research interest groups to develop ideas into a number of high level proposals.  Proposals will then be pitched to an expert panel who will judge the level of innovation and potentially award seed funding of up to £10k to help develop the project(s) further.   

The aims of this sandpit are:

  • To allow ARU academics to explore the theme of wellbeing at work and its relationship to Future Cities, Smart and Assisted Living, Blue Lights & Digital and Creative.  
  • To facilitate the development of innovative and multi-disciplinary research teams to convert ideas into embryonic research projects; and
  • To present the embryonic proposals to an expert panel who will allocate seed funding to develop one or more of the proposals further.

The outputs from the sandpit are expected to be up to three multi-disciplinary project proposals which, as a result of seed funding, could develop into substantial bids for external funding.

Who should attend this event?

The sandpit is an opportunity for ARU academics and researchers to meet and share ideas about Wellbeing at Work.  As such participants should be prepared to fully engage in the discussions and group activities that constitute the sandpit and be open to working in collaborative, multi-disciplinary teams. Applicants should be able to demonstrate their experience of relevant issues, as well as their enthusiasm for collaborating with colleagues across other faculties and disciplines.

The Sandpit

The sandpit is designed to encourage discussion between participants who have not previously worked together.  Discussions will highlight areas of common interest between participants relating to the Sandpit theme (Wellbeing at Work), as well as identifying research themes where collaboration would allow the development of new research projects. The outline programme for the day will include:

Morning Session
Welcome and Introduction – Dr David Arkell (LAIBS)
External Speaker- Key Challenges for Wellbeing at Work –
External Speaker- How Technology Can Improve Workplace Wellbeing - Firstbeat Technologies
Group Discussions
Topic Voting and formation of Working Groups

Lunch and Networking

Afternoon Session
Development of Proposals in Working Groups
Pitching Proposals to the Judging Panel
Feedback and Next Steps

The Sandpit will run from 10:00-16:00 and a detailed agenda will be issued shortly.

How to Register
If you would like to register for this event, please email by Friday 13 April including a brief outline of your area(s) of interest.

Contact Information
Any enquiries regarding this call should be addressed to:

James Smith (Sector Project Officer, RIDO)
David Rutt (Sector Strategy Manager, RIDO)