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Wednesday 12 December
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.

Ageing in Urban Communities - Call for Participants

Wednesday 21 November
Venue: MAB007, Chelmsford

Please register by Friday 16 November

The Research and Innovation Development Office (RIDO) are running a research sandpit on the theme of ‘Ageing in Urban Communities’. Academic colleagues are invited to develop multi-disciplinary research project proposals with the opportunity to secure seed-corn investment to kick-start the research projects. 

ARU has developed a Sandpit programme to generate and fund innovative multi-disciplinary research projects which respond to key societal challenges. Ongoing support to develop follow-on bids for external funding will also be made available.

The ‘Ageing in Urban Communities’ Sandpit will provide academics the opportunity to work with senior colleagues from Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (including practising GPs) and senior officers from Essex County Council, responsible for services including housing and social care who will share their ideas and experiences and identify the key challenges and frustrations they face. 

Sandpits are a great way to interact with academic colleagues you might not ordinarily come in to contact with and highlight areas of common interest. Participants can identify research activities benefitting from a multi-disciplinary response, supporting ARU’s focus on societal and real world challenges.

Through the duration of the day participants will:

  • create ideas which coalesce into a genuinely innovative research project.
  • pitch their project to an expert panel.
  • have the opportunity to secure seed-corn funding up to 10k.

The aims of this intensive sandpit are:

  • to allow ARU academics to explore the interactions between design of the built environment, delivery of public services, engagement with the elderly, co-creation, Infrastructure and energy and transport.
  • to facilitate the development of innovative and multi-disciplinary research teams to convert the interactions into embryonic research projects.
  • to present the embryonic proposals to an expert panel who will allocate seed funding to develop the proposal further.

Book your place now!
Please contact David Rutt ( or James Smith ( by Friday 16 November via email along with a brief outline of your area of interest to confirm your place.