About the NRN-LCEE

The successful Sêr Cymru National Research Network for Low Carbon, Energy and Environment (NRN-LCEE) was active from 2013 to 2019. The NRN-LCEE was a bold, innovative initiative for Welsh research funded by Welsh Government (WG) and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) as part of the Sêr Cymru 1 funding initiatives.

The NRN-LCEE Achievements:

  • Over five years, the NRN-LCEE researchers won competitive funding for 97 projects to Welsh institutions, combined to lever £20.8 million (£28.6 million, Full Economic Cost, FEC) from RCUK, EU and other sources.
  • The contribution of the NRN-LCEE partner organisations is currently estimated to be an additional £12.2 million (access to equipment and facilities not covered by the NRN award/ waived PhD fees/ waived overheads/ difference between FEC and money awarded/ non-accounted staff time).
  • Therefore the £7 million investment in the NRN-LCEE by WG/HEFCW has leveraged at least £33 million for Welsh research institutions.
  • This results from researchers bidding for 214 projects totalling £93 million (FEC) to Welsh institutions. The success rate of 45% is well above the current sector norm which ranges from <5 to 20% depending on funding source.
  • Additionally, the NRN-LCEE sponsored 3 Proposal Writing Workshops for Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowships. Successful applications arising from which brought in £1.2 million to Welsh institutions for research aligned with the themes of the Sêr Cymru National Research Networks.
  • By it’s close, the NRN-LCEE's researchers had produced 165 publications (126 of which in peer-reviewed high quality journals);
  • and presented at least 278 abstracts at national and international conferences.
  • A large number of events, public lectures, STEM activities and training were underpinned by the NRN-LCEE.

The NRN-LCEE aims:

The over-arching mission of the Network was to promote excellent research within Wales into the sustainable use of natural resources for the provision of energy, water, food, and other ecosystem services. The Network explicitly encouraged interdisciplinary research across departments universities, research centres, industry and third sector parties with the resulting collaborations, for example, bringing together environmental, microbial and energy scientists, and architects with plant scientists, to name but a few. In this respect, the Network was the catalyst to bring a diverse set of talented researchers and partners into new collaborations, in order to conduct innovative research that was highly pertinent on an international research agenda.

Four themes tied together all research funded by the Network:

1.           Sustainable Intensification

2.           Low Carbon Energy Pathways

3.           Developing the Bio-Economy

4.           Impacts and Mitigation of Climate Change and Human Activities

The core of the Network’s research was centred around 8 Research Clusters (supporting 18 Research Fellows and 12 PhD students) and 10 Returning Fellowships. The latter were individuals returning to academic research from extended career beaks. The Network also supported STEM and outreach opportunities, public lectures and a diverse range of workshops and events on topical science issues.

The Network encouraged the main research institutes involved to collaborate widely. Ultimately, 71 partners from the UK and Ireland, mainland Europe, North America, the Middle East and the South Pacific have contributed to the NRN-LCEE’s research. These included research institutions, government bodies, small-to-medium enterprises, and industry.

The NRN-LCEE research schemes:

NRN-LCEE funding was used to support a wide-range of activities including the following innovative NRN-LCEE initiated schemes:

Research Clusters:

The NRN-LCEE awarded funding for 8 Research Clusters to address key knowledge gaps within the NRN-LCEE themes. Bringing together groups with different expertise into new collaborations, these ambitious multi-disciplinary teams delivered creative, excellent research pertinent to both national and international agendas, leveraged substantial research funding for Welsh institutions, produced high quality research outputs and recruited new researchers to Wales.

Returning Fellowships:

The NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship Scheme was an innovative programme designed to facilitate researchers returning to their research following long-term absence for reasons of maternity, paternity, adoption, health or caring. Through the initiative, the Fellows were given the opportunity to dedicate a greater percentage of their time to developing their research, delivering high quality publications and increased grant income - thereby adding significant benefit to their scientific endeavours in Wales.

Proposal Writing Fellowships:

These were awarded to 14 talented researchers who were without an academic/research contract received funding from the NRN-LCEE to prepare a research proposal to RCUK, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society or EU funding sources. This funding was for up to two months’ salary of the Fellow, as well as for travel and subsistence to facilitate meetings between potential project partners. Principle Investigators applied for the funding and worked with a named Proposal-Writing Fellow to develop a research proposal on which the Fellow was a named researcher.

Research Development Fund:

The NRN-LCEE Research Development Fund (RDF) supported a series of collaborative initiatives that contributed substantially to the development of the Welsh research capacity. Funding was available for workshops and events that supported new research developments and/or expanded opportunities for knowledge transfer and stakeholder engagement. The RDF also provided grant proposal-writing support in the form of 3 Proposal Writing Workshops for EU Marie-Curie Skłodowska Actions (MCSA) Individual Fellowships hosted in Aberystwyth, Swansea and Cardiff Universities in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND Fellowships:

The NRN-LCEE CO-FUND Fellowships contributed towards salary and research costs of CO-FUND Fellows who were successful in their application to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND Wales (SIRCIW).