Future Leaders Fellows Development Network: Year 1 Lessons LearnedWhat a year it’s been!

No, not for that reason.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a whole year since our consortium – made up of six research-intensive universities – was awarded the contract to establish the FLF Development Network, to support Cohorts 1-3 of FLFs and an additional group of research leaders nominated by the Research Councils. Our vision was to create a bespoke development programme in partnership with you, this extraordinary community of some of the most innovative, dynamic, and influential researchers and innovators across the UK. From day one, it has been thrilling work.

We came to the Network with many years’ experience of supporting fellows and research leaders, so we had some ideas for what you might be needing and wanting, and we hit the ground running with our bridging programme of workshops, which ran over the late autumn and winter. Over 87 of you attended these sessions, and feedback was extremely positive.

Yet the core of our Year 1 work was to take a deep look at the FLF community’s training and development needs, in order understand how we could shape an ongoing programme that would meet the goals of so diverse a group of future leaders – that is, how you, individually and collectively, could enhance your leadership potential, not only in achieving the research ambitions you have set but also acquiring the confidence to act as agents for change in the UK’s rapidly shifting research & innovation sector. This organisational and cultural change is a key part of many stakeholders’ thinking – not least UKRI’s and the Government’s – and it remains central to the ethos of the FLF scheme.

Through our busy first year we’ve delivered 45 workshops and courses, insight sessions and surgeries, regional coffee mornings, the Research Encounters event, and the Plus Funds competition. Through these, as well as through myriad informal interactions, we have listened to what you have told us, and we have fed this information back to UKRI. Perhaps the two biggest sources of information have been the 360 leadership survey and one-to-one coaching conversations with Bridget, our Community Manager. In this post, we capture some of the insights and lessons learned from those sources.

360 coaching

In the spring, 50% of you opted to participate in our bespoke 360 feedback survey, which included 90 minutes of confidential one-to-one coaching. Despite the varying lengths of time for which you had been fellows or members of the Network, not to mention the variety of research interests and host organisations which you represent, it was remarkable how consistent the results were. Two findings stand out especially starkly.

First, results were massively loaded toward top of the scale. Our expert partners at Talent Innovations, who design and deliver 360 training for, inter alia, all of the UN agencies worldwide, reported that they had never seen such ‘supremely high’ scores. It’s true that senior colleagues tended to score slightly more conservatively than other rater groups, but their scores were nonetheless excellent. Put another way: you are perceived – by your junior colleagues, peers, and senior colleagues – to be an exceptional group of individuals. And before you say it: this positive finding is not a flaw in the design of the survey (we looked carefully at this).

In fact, the survey indicates that you are likely, as a group, to find it hard to accept the perception of your peers and reconcile this with your own feelings of impostor syndrome. This was the second stark finding of the survey: there was an unusually high discrepancy between how you scored yourselves and how your raters saw you, with you judging yourselves more harshly than your colleagues.

Harsher you may have been, but, interestingly, the results still tracked: there was a clear correlation between your scores and your colleagues’ in terms of which leadership competencies scored highest and lowest. For example, all groups identified “managing others’ performance” as a priority for development, whilst competencies such as “responsible conduct” and “respecting diversity” were top-rated.

Alongside these formal survey results, your coaches were asked to submit (anonymous) anecdotal feedback after every one-to-one session. The top priorities identified through your coaching conversations were:

  • navigating the sector​;
  • team dynamics​;
  • personal effectiveness ; and
  • networks and engagement​.

1:1 Engagement

In recent months, we have also begun a programme of one-to-one engagement through our Community Manager, Bridget. So far, she has conducted more than 60 one-to-ones with the FLF community, in order to explore your development priorities and identify suitable activities, as well as delivery partners whom we might bring on board.

We picked up requests for a wide variety of opportunities including: academic career pathways; project management for R&D; time management; grant funding and managing funders; revising research goals and timelines; performance management; delegation; conflict resolution; and supporting researcher development. There has also been strong interest in: finding out more about options and pathways for commercialisation; and how to build collaborations and develop projects that are truly interdisciplinary.

Hardly surprisingly, many of you have talked about delays brought about as a result of Covid and, in particular, a concern that the impact of the pandemic on research is not wholly understood by the wide R&I community.

* * *

We have learnt so much in this first year about what you want and need in order to fulfil your ambitions (the above is only a partial snapshot), and we are working continuously to adapt our programmes according to what you are telling us. For example, you told us that although you valued what the Network was offering, you were starting to feel burnt out, so we shifted to bite-sized workshops of 45-60 mins, and smaller, more intimate sessions to give more opportunity for open discussion. In the coming weeks, we will start to implement further changes to the way we organise and present our activities.

One theme which has come through with particular resonance is that you would like more opportunities for community building and peer learning, with more emphasis on networking and engagement. After all, the real value of any Network is its people – the peer-to-peer conversations, encounters with people you wouldn’t normally meet, the support that can come from being part of a large group. These are the opportunities we will be creating more of in the programme ahead.

If you have any ideas about potential development opportunities we could provide in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact our Bridget at hello@flfdevnet.com. In the meantime, we look forward to working with you in Year 2.

The FLF Development Network Team

Last summer, in 2020 whilst I was in Donegal, Sara Shinton (Director of the Network) contacted me to ask if Queen’s University would be interested in joining a proposal to set up the FLF Development Network. Fortunately, we said yes and I have taken on the role of Northern Ireland FLFDN Hub contact. Queen’s strong reputation in the commercialisation of research is informing the programme of activity for the FLF+s. Recently, I have provided support for the FLF Mentoring Programme and I feed into the Network as a member of the Project Board.

Over past year I have been lucky enough to meet with Future Leaders Fellows at Queen’s University Belfast, where I work as a Learning and Development Consultant. My main focus in this role is to support the professional and career development of research/postdoc staff, which brings me into contact with the broad range of fellowship holders.

My role has evolved over the 15 years that I have been part of the University’s staff learning and development team. Although we still run many workshop style activities, all online at present, we have also introduced other approaches to staff learning over time. This has included coaching in different formats, including traditional 1-2-1 and also peer coaching, which has proved very beneficial for the researchers who have participated.

Alongside access to coaching opportunities, we have enhanced and made more visible the opportunities for mentoring, encouraging and supporting the development of formal schemes in schools and enhancing support for mentors in both formal and informal mentoring settings. I would encourage all Fellows to think about developing a network of mentors and coaches, really just people you can talk to about work, your wellbeing and life in general.

The Future Leaders Fellows at Queen’s are also members of our Fellowship Academy. The Academy was launched in January 2020 and has been a focal point for all our fellowship holders. Unfortunately, we have not been able to meet up and network, both professionally and socially, as much as we had planned, with many activities held on MS Teams over the past year. I’m looking forward to getting back on campus and out into Belfast’s great pubs with the Fellows over the next year!

Our Enterprise and Innovation programme will support people who would like to dip their toe in the world of enterprise to those of you who are ready to take their ideas to the next level. Enterprise, commercialisation and translation are means to an end. Engaging with industry is often seen as a path to spinout research, but it is much more about a process that can lead to a variety of outcomes and create impact across all sectors. It is also about mobility across sectors. Does a successful researcher need to work in academia? Do successful entrepreneurs work within academia? Our programme will also help navigate the blurred boundaries between the two.

Many of your host institutions will have support for commercialisation and all things associated with it, such as contract, intellectual property, patenting, and other forms of idea protection. This programme is not here to replicate that, but to add to it and help you explore whether the world of industry-funded research, spinouts, or commercialisation of your research might be of interest to you. We also hope that by bringing you together to explore these topics, you’ll meet colleagues in the Network and potentially might spark some new ideas and collaborations. The potential is here to build multiple networks to learn from others, road test ideas with and potentially build collaborations with:

  • people who are engaged in the sector you would like to work with
  • academics who are enterprising
  • Future Leaders Fellows who work in different sectors
  • finding people who could be collaborators

Imagine what you could do if you put your heads together!

These sessions are some you will see advertised in the coming months. We will be adding to them in response to what you need, so do let us know if there’s something you would like to see.


For those of you who want to learn from experts in the field, we have a series of concise Insight Sessions:

  • BOOKING NOW for September 2021: Insight Series: Commercialising Research. A brief, 45-minute Insight Session with Jen Bromley, Head of Plant Research and Development at Vertical Futures, focusing on how she has been able to commercialise her research.
  • December 2021: Insight Session with Jason Mellad, CEO and Co-founder of Start Codon, focusing on the tips and tricks to creating a viable start up.

For those of you who want to take the first step into engaging with industry and innovation:

  • BOOKING NOW for October 2021: Helix Innovations Lean Start Foundation, delivered by Helix Hub. Our delivery partners, HelixHub, will be hosting a Lean Start Foundation session. This will focus on introducing many of the most basic business and entrepreneurship concepts so that all participants get to grips with the language and mindsets of the business world. The approach centres on a friendly and supportive environment, with peer learning and hands-on training.
    – We will also be opening spots for this training in April 2022.
  • January 2022: Entrepreneurial Mind-set Course, delivered by the Postdocs 2 Innovators (p2i) Network. Developing an innovator mindset and capabilities enables early career researchers to spot opportunities and have the capacity to act on these with confidence, whether that’s in relation to gaining independence and pursuing an academic career, a commercial opportunity, policy intervention or other means of bringing their research out into the wider world to have an impact.

For those of you who might be exploring ideas around networking and would like to chat to colleagues:

  • November 2021: A casual drop-in Coffee Morning themed around networking (and getting a foot in the door) with Professor Lisa Collins.

For those of you who might be ready to engage with commercialisation and want to stand out from the crowd:

  • February 2022: A surgery looking at how to differentiate and highlight your research to potential investors and partners

For those of you who are considering the implications (and barriers to) protecting your intellectual property and navigating the world of patenting:

  • March 2022: Special guests Jen Bromley and Fiona Nicholson will discuss and give advice on ‘How to… protect arising intellectual property (the patenting process)’

This is just the first tranche of events and more will come next year. Bookings will open three months before each date. Please let us know what else you would like to see, and we will do our best to include it in the next round of events.


Other offerings

Of course, don’t forget that there are other related offerings via the FLF Development Network:

  • PLUS funds: if you want to organise something yourself (or with other FLFs), then you may have an idea which is eligible for PLUS funding of up to £25k
  • Mentoring: you will soon be invited to complete a matching form to enable us to find mentor for you

Since the Network began offering workshops to you, many of the sessions have been around management and leadership of others. We know from the 360 feedback exercise, and many of the interactions that we’ve had with you, that this is a key area that you are keen to develop.

One of our main themes for provision of development opportunities is “Teams and Collaborations”. As the name suggests, this theme will cover two kinds of working relationship essential to researchers and innovators. The first looks inward, to your immediate team, and to core topics related to recruiting and developing people whom you supervise or manage, such as feedback and performance management. In particular, the aim is to ensure that, as leaders, you are equipped with the tools and confidence to address things early. The second looks more outward, to your collaborations: finding potential collaborators and establishing productive relationships, how to keep collaborative projects on track, particularly as these reach across institutional and disciplinary boundaries. The theme will be delivered via a mix of workshops, surgeries for ‘live’ issues and practice sharing ‘How I…’ sessions where you can hear how other FLF+s have approached their teams and collaborations. We will also run ‘sandpits’ where you will meet other Fellows to generate ideas, discussion and collaborations on topics of common interest.

Do take a look at materials library from sessions that have already taken place. Many have been recorded and titles include: Effective Recruitment, Delegating and Motivating, Supporting Researcher Career Development, Inclusive Leadership and Managing Conflict.

What’s coming up:

BOOKING NOW:

· 22 Jul, 10:00 – 11:30 Workshop: Establishing Productive Collaborations – a session to help you plan and maintain your research collaboration properly so you can both enjoy and learn from your journey.

· 17 Aug, 10:00 – 12:00 – Mini Research Sandpit – Quantum technologies – an opportunity for the FLF+ community to dialogue, network and establish collaborative partnerships around the theme of Quantum Technologies.

· 18 Aug, 15:00 – 16:00 – Insight Series: How I… Recruited My Research Team

Learn from a small panel of fellow FLF+ colleagues and other ‘early career’ research leaders what lessons they learned in recruitment process.

· 15 Sep, 09:30 – 11:30 Workshop: Recruiting Your Research Team – Advice and discussion for recruiting high quality researchers to your new team.

· 28 Sep, 10:00 – 12:00 Workshop: Managing Teams and Collaborations – This session builds on the 22 July workshop on establishing new teams and collaborations in which we discussed how to plan and maintain your research collaboration.

· 29 Sep, 10:00 – 11:00 Coffee Morning: Building Teams in the Time of Covid – A casual, drop-in event for FLF+s to share tips and tricks about how they approach working within their teams in the Time of Covid.

· 19 Oct 15:00-16:00 Insight Series: How I…Support and Manage My Research Team. Learn from a small panel of fellow FLF+ colleagues and other ‘early career’ research leaders what they have found to be effective in supporting and managing their team.

· 29 Oct, 15:00 – 16:30 Surgery: Trouble Shooting Sessions – A practice sharing and troubleshooting session on any current challenges you are facing around leading and managing teams and collaborations.

COMING UP:

(bookings for these events will open three months before the workshop):

17 Nov 2021 – Managing Performance – a session to help

29 Nov 2021 – Delegation and Feedback

10 Jan 2022 – Working part time – advice on approaches to both working part time yourself, and managing others who work part time

21 Jan 2022 – Surgery: Trouble Shooting Sessions – A practice sharing and troubleshooting session on any current challenges you are facing around leading and managing teams and collaborations.

Mini research sandpits – upcoming topics are likely to include quantum technologies, food insecurity, net zero carbon science and communication. Please let us know if you have any research topics you think would be suitable for a sandpit.

Please let us know what else you would like to see in terms of events, training and development, and we will do our best to include it in the programme.

Of course, don’t forget that there are other related offerings via the FLF Development Network:

  • PLUS funds: if you want to organise something yourself (or with other FLFs), then you may have an idea which is eligible for PLUS funding of up to £25k
  • Mentoring: through our mentoring scheme you could find this opportunity to be matched to a mentor who can advise and support you on managing teams and collaborations.

Peer review helps research councils and other funders figure out which grants to fund.

Taking time to think about, plan, write, re-write and submit your research grant is simply the first step in the process of funding research. Once you nervously click the ‘submit now’ button, the whole thing may feel like Dorothy stepping on the yellow brick road for the first time, with great excitement and trepidation, waiting to see if the great wizard(s) will grant you your wish.

You may wonder what happens to your grant between submitting it and that terrifying moment when you get an email from the funder asking you to respond to peer review? To many, this is an overwhelming moment of uncertainty as you connect with the great wizard(s) reviewing the research proposal you have spent months developing. Then what does the funder do with your response after that? Do the panels take any stock in those? How do panels weigh them up against the reviewer comments? What do the wizards ‘behind the curtain’ actually pay attention to?

Proposals for funding are taken through a rigorous assessment process by the funder, which has been honed by the research councils over many years.

Join us at our online Insight Series event on Mon 19 Jul when we will walk through the steps of peer review and have the opportunity meet and talk with Ben Yarnall, a Programme Manager for peer review policy at the Medical Research Council… and, hopefully, we can make the yellow brick road to funding road a little clearer.


SIGN UP NOW for our online event “How to Peer Review Panels Work?”

Monday 19 Jul 10:00 – 11:30

An introductory session to the best way to present your work to Peer Review Panels, with opportunities to apply theory to your own research.


About our guest speaker

Ben Yarnall – Programme Manager for peer review policy at the Medical Research Council

I co-ordinate and implement peer review policy across the MRC funding schemes and represent MRC’s peer review interests in cross council UKRI activities. I work to understand how existing policies support our goal, improving human health through world-class medical research, and where they could be refined. I get to work with people across UKRI, other funding organisations and throughout the research community. Part of the role I really care about is championing equality and diversity within peer review and funding decisions.

I hold a PhD from the University of Southampton, have worked supporting Cancer Research UK’s policy funding body and briefly worked in industry. I enjoy most outdoor activities and have spent lockdown training our new dog. She can spin and fetch but is still learning the command, “Don’t you eat those chips”.

LEGO Serious Play is a globally recognised facilitation method that helps people to think, communicate and problem solve in groups, and is used by some of the largest organisations in the world.

It works by participants using LEGO bricks to build their answer to important questions. This process of building their answer gives everyone involved a chance to think, and think differently, accessing things that they didn’t know that they knew. The bricks then help people communicate that thinking in a tangible way that others can understand and remember, with principles that give everyone equal opportunity to communicate.

This methodology creates engagement and parity, overcoming the factors of personality and hierarchy that normally influence meetings. The bricks also create psychological safety allowing difficult topics to be addressed. These things together mean that a group can solve complex problems with buy-in from all because the answer has come from them.

In this two-hour workshop for eight members of the FLF Development Network, we will send you your own LEGO bricks in the post so you can experience an online taste of LEGO Serious Play. We will use the bricks to explore some of the challenges that are facing you in your academic career, as well as looking under the bonnet of LEGO Serious Play to explore what makes it work.

This workshop is led by Dr Geraint Wyn Story, who is a qualified practitioner of LEGO Serious Play. Geraint runs his own training company and has a background as a Researcher Development Consultant, a manager in biotech, and a PhD in molecular biology.

The successful use of LEGO Serious Play relies on a small number of principles that will be discussed in the workshop. However, before that, we ask anyone who is interested in this workshop to make sure that you:

  • sign up early so we can send the LEGO bricks to you in the post
  • avoid cancelling your place because we won’t have time to send bricks to someone else
  • can attend for the duration of the workshop
  • are able to work from a laptop or desktop computer with a working web camera, microphone and speakers, and with space to build in front of it.

Expect hard fun!

Engaging the public in your research: the why, how, where and when

In these dates for your diary for 2021-22, Professor Barry Smith introduces guidance and support available to members of the FLF Development Network on how to carry out your research and do public engagement.


Academics are increasingly urged to share their research with other organisations and the wider public. To do this productively, in a way that works for you – and your intended audiences – we will provide guidance and support on how you can engage the public in your research meaningfully in a way that advances your research and helps you build your academic portfolio. We will consider how to build support for your project while increasing awareness of your research field as a whole. We will look at what audiences you need to reach, ways you can reach out to communities and engage with museums and galleries, and how you can attract the media to your research and mange relationships with them.

Good public engagement can generate impact for your project, develop your networks and contacts, and expand your spheres of influence, increasing your opportunities for working with non-academic partners.

We have listed the first tranche of events for 2021-22 below, and more will come next year. Bookings will open three months before each date. Please let us know what else you would like to see, and we will do our best to include it in the next round of events.


For those at the outset of their research project who wanted to know how engaging the public could help shape the trajectory of their research:

We ran a 90 min surgery on: How to use public engagement as a research tool on 17 June. You will be able to ‘catch up’ on this session in the coming weeks on our Videos page, and we will be running the session again in April 2022.

For those with results to share or hoping to influence particular audiences:

  • Sept 2021: Attracting the Media to your Research (Registration opening shortly)
    Workshop led by Professor Sarah Churchwell, Chair in the Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study with editors from BBC Online, radio producers, science correspondents, and editors.

Looking to involve the public in your research?

We look at ways to move beyond crowdsourcing and develop types of participatory research and citizen science.

  • October 2021: From Crowdsourcing to Citizen Science
    Bite-sized workshop where we will discuss examples from those who have run successful citizen science projects.

Where can you go to meet the public? How do you reach new audiences?

We look at ready-made opportunities to showcase your research plus innovative ways for researchers to meet new audiences and keep them engaged.

  • November 2021: Making the Most of Festivals and Building Partnerships
    Workshop where we will hear from programme directors at The Cheltenham Festivals, Being Human Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and PIs running community projects.

How do you start planning your public engagement activities?

What are the do’s and don’ts? What tips can others pass on?

  • November 2021: How to do public engagement: a toolkit (Surgery)

What can your public engagement activity generate and what can it contribute to others?

Building a portfolio of engagement and knowledge exchange. Sustaining the work you have done with the public, keeping them engaged. We will hear from recipients of effective public engagement and look at how this creates social good.

  • December 2021: Different Kinds and Values of Public Engagement (Panel Discussion with Q&A)

How can you share your research with new and more inclusive audiences?

What venues and formats can you find to reach out further and bring more people into the discussion?

We will speak to practitioners who have had considerable success is reaching neglected communities and getting beyond the regular festival and museum goers.

  • January 2022: Finding New Audiences for your Research (Bite-sized workshop)

How do you stay on track and protect your time with engaging with other sectors, and the public?

Dealing with different time-scales, managing expectations, developing relationships.

  • February 2022: Engaging with Other Sectors and the Public on your own Terms (Bite-sized workshop)

How do you ensure Responsible Research and Innovation?

It is important that members of the public not only hear about research but can interact with scientists and policy makers to deliberate on issues of social concern that are relevant to future policy decisions. How do researchers gain practice in engaging in dialogues with the public and other stakeholders (funders, businesses and pressure groups)? Together with members of UKRI we will explore the issues and the needs of researchers who have duties to follow the principles of responsible research and innovation and discover what support is available to them.

  • March 2022: Responsible Research and Innovation and public dialogue (Workshop)

How do you work with the museum and gallery sector?

Have you worked with the museum and gallery sector? Do you want to it and don’t know where to begin? We bring together research directors from Tate Modern, the Science Museum, the British Library and the Getty Center to discuss the ways research can contribute to what they offer the public and how you can be involved.

  • March 2022: Research Collaborations with Museums and Galleries (Panel Discussion with Q&A)

How can researchers in the Arts and Humanities encourage the public to participate in and help them shape their research?

What forms of citizen research are there and how do they work? We will look at examples and hear from practitioners and funders.

  • April 2022: From Public Engagement to Participatory Research in the Arts and Humanities (Bite-sized workshop)

Other Offerings

Of course, don’t forget that there are other related offerings via the FLF Development Network:

  • PLUS funds: if you want to organise something yourself (or with other FLFs), then you may have an idea which is eligible for PLUS funding of up to £25k.
  • Mentoring: you will soon be invited to complete a matching form to enable us to find mentor for you – you could use this opportunity to be matched to a mentor who can give advice on public engagement and knowledge exchange!

Since 2013, I have been the Leadership Fellow for the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Science in Culture Theme, where I have been helping to foster meaningful collaborations across the arts, humanities and sciences. The range and ingenuity of projects we funded have shown just how much scope there is for genuine interactions between researchers in the sciences, medicine and engineering and those in the arts and the humanities. I am passionate about significant interdisciplinary research, which in my own work on perception led me to launch a Centre for the Study of the Senses at the Institute of Philosophy in the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. The Centre has pioneered interactions between philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists and we have two working labs. My own research is on the multisensory nature of perception, focusing on taste, smell and flavour. I publish both theoretical and experimental papers, work with artists and chefs and at times consult for the food and drinks industry.

It is through my role with the AHRC’s Science in Culture Theme that I first met many of my colleagues in the FLF Development Network, when they invited me to be part of Welsh Crucible events. I was struck by the energy and intellectual force of the hand-picked early career fellows attending those events. I could see how well they understood the challenges they faced and how willing they were to equip themselves to meet those challenges. It was also a pleasure to be involved, helping researchers position themselves best to make a difference not only in their own work, but in their commitment to collaborations and in communicating the interest and value of their research to wider audiences. When I was asked to join the Development Network, to work closely with the UKRI Future Leader Fellows, I accepted at once. Together with the FLF+s, this is a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the important changes to the nature of research and research culture in the new future.

An increasing emphasis is being put on the need to communicate our research to a number of publics: to Government, policy makers, patient groups, and the wider public. It is important to build support for university funded research working with those outside the academy in industry and other sectors, and I am equally passionate about the opportunities for the public to participate in our research and to hear about it. As an ex-colleague, philosopher, Jo Wolff, previously a Dean at UCL and now at Oxford, once put it to me: What’s the point of doing all this research if nobody benefits from it? We need better ways to share what we do with the public and to encourage different audiences to engage with us. As part of that mission, I was the founding Director of the Being Human Festival, the UK’s only national festival for the humanities. In encouraging researchers right across the UK to participate, I asked only that they found new and innovative ways to showcase their research and made sure that what they put on was accessible and relevant to people’s lives. The Being Human Festival is in its fifth year now with my successor as director, my colleague at SAS, Professor Sarah Churchwell. In the course of the three years of the FLF Development Network, I hope to meet many of you and look forward to hearing your ideas of how to engage the public with your research. Lots to do and I am looking forward to working with you all.

Prof Barry C Smith

Director, Institute of Philosophy
Centre for the Study of the Senses

AHRC Leadership Fellow for the Science in Culture Theme

School of Advanced Study

University of London

The FLFDN Plus Fund is a flexible funding stream open to FLF+s within the Development Network, offering funding for innovative projects that are aligned with the ethos and aims of the network.

The fund offers up to £25k per project, and has a rolling peer-review group that assesses applications each month so we can get you a decision asap. The review group consists of representatives from across the FLF network (including FLF+s), and offers in-depth and tailored feedback to each applicant regardless of outcome so that applicants can learn about the application assessment process, and have the opportunity to adjust their applications based on the feedback and resubmit.

We as a network are really excited to be able to offer this funding to FLF+s, and can’t wait to see the innovative and exciting projects you are planning. When we start getting projects off the ground we’ll be delighted to share them with the rest of the network so you can see what your peers are doing – for inspiration and collaboration!

If you have an idea for a project that could be funded through the Plus Fund then please visit our Plus Fund webpage for the application form and guidance documents, and don’t hesitate to contact hello@flfdevnet.com if you have any questions.

Hi all! My name is Charlotte, and I am a professional services team member at Cardiff University. I am thrilled to have joined the FLF Development Network recently.

A degree in Psychology, followed by a post grad in Counselling, my career did not follow my educational starting point at all! I have been lucky enough to live and work in different cities in the UK – Cardiff, Manchester and London – developing strong connections as well as people and project management skills, becoming an advanced PRINCE2 project management practitioner and completing management qualifications up to level 5 along the way.

With my career being mainly in the education and training sector, I worked in Further Education and the Private Work-Based Learning sector for many years, developing to senior management level in the private sector. Five years ago, I moved to Higher Education at Cardiff University, managing multi-million-pound research projects. Here I have been able to combine my passion for people management and encouraging others to develop with supporting researchers and their valuable outcomes in research.

On my journey I have had some fantastic mentors (with a couple of not so fantastic), providing me with challenge, support, and knowledge to be able to develop my own career as well as those I manage. I am currently completing a PGCert in Higher Education Management and Administration, which has provided me with an excellent mentoring relationship outside of my institution and area of expertise.

I am excited to be working with the FLF Development Network team and to support you through the development of a mentee-led mentoring scheme, offering insights and guidance from a wide range of mentors to contribute your advancement to becoming leaders in research. Please get in touch with any queries or suggestions as to what you would like from your mentors and mentoring scheme – mentoring@flfdevnet.com.

I look forward to working with you all!

Introducing Helix Innovations, one of FLFDevNet’s program partners

helix

UKRI’s Future Leaders Fellows are the next generation of the UK’s academic research community. Every one of the 205 FLFs and 38 UKRI-named Researchers who take part in the FLF Development Network will have their own particular journey. But many of those will want to explore entrepreneurship, industry and commercialisation as options.

The FLF Development Network, in Partnership with HelixHub, are pleased to announce that all FLFs and participating researchers have the opportunity from Oct 2021 to find their ‘inner entrepreneur’ by participating in a suite of short commercialisation programmes which will start with Lean Start Foundation training and simple introductory session right up to a full market exploration programme called the Lean Launch Programme.

The Lean Start Foundation session will introduce many of the most basic business and entrepreneurship concepts so that all participants get to grips which the language and mindsets of the business world in a friendly and supportive environment and where peer learning and hands-on learning by doing is the overall approach. Whereas, the Lean Launch Programme is intended to help those with a realistic commercial proposition to start the journey to take their research/ technology to market.

So why should researchers engage in a suite of workshops like these? In simple terms a high percentage of successful British businesses are underpinned and driven by world class research that has emerged from the UK’s world renowned education sector and sadly some brilliant research ideas with outstanding commercial potential withered on the vine simply for a lack of understanding from the person or persons who developed the research. These sessions aim to take the fear out of the commercialisation journey and support those FLFs and ECRs who wish to explore this space while respecting the fact that only a small number of FLFs will want to ever start their own business.

This will be a completely new world of intellectual discovery for most FLFs; previous participants of the Lean Launch and ICURe have said they have found to be a great support to their careers.

bridgetI’m so glad to introduce myself as your Community Manager, explain a bit more about what that means and how my role has been designed with you in mind.

I come from a policy background, both in government and in higher education. Partly this has meant building policy that affects researchers, and at times it has meant breaking complex policy down to find out who really benefits. Through this, I discovered a passion for building good research culture, and making sure that researchers are provided with everything they need to be changemakers for research and innovation.

When our partners met last year to discuss what our Network could represent and what it could deliver, one central point kept coming up again and again: the Network and our activities should be FLF-led, and it should be reflexive and responsive to your needs and your goals.

It’s one thing to say this at the outset of a programme, it’s another to embed this into our design and delivery. At the forefront of our minds is the knowledge that the FLF and innovator cohort come from diverse backgrounds, with different experiences, and have different ambitions. So we came up with the idea of ‘tailored coherence’.

  • On the one hand, we’ll provide you with a range of courses which, from our combined experience of working with researchers, we believe can support your development.
  • On the other hand, we are completely invested in responding to your needs – if you want to learn more about complex finances in large scale grants or how to engage with public and political leaders, we will make those opportunities available.

Behind both of these is the information we (and you) will glean from the 360 feedback programme, our mentoring programme, and the Plus Funds pot.

This is where I come in – I’m your ‘one-stop shop’, your pathway into the Network. If you’ve thought of training that you’ll find useful, I can actively pursue that for you. If your 360 feedback or your mentoring partnership reveal areas where you might need further development, I will work with you to identify the best delivery method and put that into place. If you’re at a stage in your development where you need access to a broader network of industry professionals or public figures, I can reach out through our four-nation partnership to help you create those relationships. If you really want to take your skills from the development stage to putting them into action, I will work with you and our Network to create those opportunities.

In my mind, I’m your advocate, your voice in the Network. We designed this programme for you, so it’s essential that we continue to serve your best interests. If something isn’t working well – whether you can’t find a course that fits with your goals, or if you see a chance to build your skills in a new and exciting way – I’m here to help you.

In the coming months, I’ll be getting in touch with each of you individually to see how we can continue to tailor our outputs to your needs and deliver a coherent training and development programme for each of you. In the meantime, feel free to contact me via our email address (hello@flfdevnet.com) with any questions, requests or interests you have.

I’m really looking forward to working with each of you over the next three years!