Sustainable Society Network+ Research Call

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1 Sustainable Society Network+ Research Call Call for Pilot Studies and Challenge Fellowships Closing date: 17:00 on 31 st October2012 Summary Applicants are invited to apply for short- term pilot study and challenge fellowship funding from the RCUK Digital Economy Theme (DE) Sustainable Society Network+. These pilot studies will be no longer than 6 months in duration and are designed to test new ideas or create novel linkages between research areas. Background Digital Economy The Research Councils UK Digital Economy Theme is supporting research to rapidly realise the transformational impact of digital technologies on aspects of community life, cultural experiences, future society, and the economy. To achieve this we bring together a unique community of researchers (from diverse disciplines including social science, engineering, computer science, the arts and medical research) and users (people, business, government) to study, understand and find solutions to real problems. The DE Theme has formed four challenge areas to describe the research we support: Communities and Culture; Sustainable Society; IT as a Utility; New Economic Models. This call focuses on Sustainable Society (described further in Appendix 1 of this document) Further information is available at: Background DE Sustainable Society Network+ "A Sustainable Society refers to one that takes into account the benefit of future generations of both the UK and the earth in its decision making processes through the protection and appropriate use of our economic, social and natural resources". While the potential role that ICT can play has long been touted in the commercial sector, true interdisciplinary research covering the multitude of aspects involved in

2 economically, socially and environmentally viable solutions for society is sparse. Some pockets of evidence exist that indicate the potential for ICT to have on sustainability, these remain pockets, however, and there is a need to ensure the continued collaboration around these important topics. At the same time, digital technologies are in the process of tearing down traditional barriers between sectors, and the mobile and cloud computing platforms may be viewed as forming the "nexus of contracts" of the global economy. The role that these platforms play has a distinct role in the development of sustainable regions and nations as new communities, businesses and structures of government are formed in response to the incredible rise in data streams. For example, the vision of responsive and agile local services was traditionally hampered by a shortage of information. Today, the problem is opposite - information overload. Research into the role of ICT in supporting the development of a sustainable society covers an extremely large number of research areas, from water, waste, energy, local and national transport infrastructures, national and international supply chains, rural and urban enterprise infrastructures, community development and social infrastructure support mechanisms. The systems that form the basis of our society are now extremely complex systems, with multiple layers and multiple interactions between the economic, social and environmental spheres - it is not possible to affect one without affecting the others. Research is required to understand the nature of these interactions and how to best deliver services within them. In such complicated systems, it is extremely difficult for academics working in these areas to know the right people in other research groups and areas. Often, researchers have to bypass opportunities to apply for research grants because they do not have the right research partners, be they academic, industrial or third sector/ngo. As a result, opportunities to address policy and research challenges within Digital Economy are missed. Sustainable Society Network+ aims to change the landscape of connections between research communities in order to create a vibrant network of researchers who take not just a Digital Economy approach back to their home disciplines, but a Sustainable Society approach as well. We aim to seed a grassroots movement across Britain of researchers who naturally approach research questions from an economic, social and environmental perspective, with a particular focus on creating links between current researchers and the next generation of researchers. Funding available Up to 200,000 is available to fund several pilot studies of up to 50,000 each (Funded at 80% according to Research Council funding regulations). Proposals should focus on novel research ideas that are previously untested and hold the potential to identify key research challenges for Sustainable Society. Applicants within 5 years of the award of their PhD may apply for Challenge Fellowship funding, which is funding set aside for younger researchers. 30% of the total network pilot funding (i.e. 30% of 500,000) is prioritized for Challenge fellowships over the 3- year period. Resources that can be requested under this call include: Investigator and researcher time; Travel and subsistence appropriate to delivery of the project; Equipment.

3 Themes for this call: During our Network+ event on July 12 th 13 th 2012, held in the Science Museum, several themes were identified as relevant for this call: 1. Community Sharing in what ways can communities create value through exchange and/or sharing resources? How can digital technologies help enable new organizational structures in order to create a more efficient application of resources across society? 2. Changing values, attitudes and/or behavior in what ways can we help shift peoples values towards more sustainable futures? How do we ensure that one change in behavior does not cause unexpected affects in other parts of a system? 3. Measuring Infrastructures How can digital technologies assist in moving use from metrics to real- world action? Different measurements can have different meanings in several contexts - How can we help people to understand metrics around infrastructure, etc? 4. Resilience How can we provide sufficient support about abrupt transitions that society faces? How do we ensure that there is appropriate management of redundancy/risk and how can we help people respond to disruption and shocks? 5. Empowering through Creativity - how do we link creative disruption to positive social change? What can we do beyond just networking creative people together? Also, how can we avoid any potential loss of creativity with digital advances? Submitting an application Please submit an expression of interest should be a maximum of two pages (minimum font size of 11pt and minimum margin in all directions of 2cm). This document should be directed to a non- technical audience and should address the following questions: Please cover the following: 1. Outline of the project idea, method and budget 2. How is this relevant to a sustainable society? 3. Skills and expertise of main researchers. For challenge fellowships, research commitment and potential 4. Estimated costs, brief breakdown. 5. Potential for short- term, medium and long- term impact in accordance with the Sustainable Society Network+ agenda 6. Details of support from any project partners, including evidence of any contributions if appropriate. Please note that a project partner is NOT essential for this call. Projects are limited to up to 6 months in duration Successful applicants will be notified in mid- December and must commence within 6 months of award. Formatting Please formulate your application using a maximum of two pages (minimum font size of 11pt and minimum margin in all directions of 2cm). Please state clearly at the

4 top of the first page the following details: PI Surname, PI First Name, Institution, Project Title, Relevance to call theme. Applications should be submitted by e- mail to Please note: Applications that fail to state PI Surname, PI First Name, Institution, Project Title and which of the themes the project fits to at the top of the first page will not be considered. No other attachments are necessary and if received will be discarded and not used in the assessment process. Proposals that go over the 2- page limit will be cut down and the sift panel will only see the first two pages. Assessment process for applications There is a 3- stage process: 1. Stage 1: Management team sift 2. Stage 2: Peer Review of selected proposals 3. Stage 3: Advisory Board Review Assessment Criteria Suitability for the call: Is it DE? Is it research? Is it novel? Is it Sustainable Society? Is it relevant to the call themes; Articulation of problem and so- what? factor (what makes this project stand out?); Identifying the potential to inform the research challenges for Sustainable Society is encouraged Standard assessment criteria will also be applied, i.e.: Quality; Importance; Impact; The applicants ability to deliver the proposed project within budget and in time; OR where the application is for a challenge fellowship, the applicant s commitment to research and potential. Evidence of a planning and management process for the duration of the project Key dates Deadline for applications for pilot studies and challenge fellowships, submitted by e- mail to 17:00 31 st October 2012 Pilot studies awarded: mid- December 2012 Eligibility This funding is provided in accordance with EPSRC guidelines.

5 For information on the eligibility of organisations and individuals to receive this funding, see the EPSRC Funding Guide: As this call is a targeted funding opportunity provided via RCUK funding, higher education institutions, and some research council institutes and independent research organisations are eligible to apply. A list of eligible organisations to apply to RCUK is provided at: Contacts For further information on the Sustainable Society Network+ economy- lab/partnernetworks/sustainablesocietynetwork For further details or to discuss your proposal, please contact: Sustainable Society Network+

6 Appendix 1: Sustainable Society Why is this an important area? Digital technologies can be used to make services more sustainable and enhance current systems (economic, environmental and social), in a way that is accessible, affordable, bespoke and popular. The Digital Economy has potential to transform lifestyles and improve quality of life, having an impact on society as a whole. Our ways of interacting and networking in research, business etc. is changing: using digital technologies to thread disconnected systems together, individuals can be well connected and informed on a personal level. By collating and using information to deliver timely and appropriate options, service providers can enable consumer choice and delivery of improved services at decreased cost. On an increasingly instrumented planet, there is a need for creation of open standards and development of user accessible tools for life. In sustainable societies of the future, people will be able to make informed sustainable choices. Improved information delivery (economic, environmental, social and political) will foster changes in behavior to minimise the negative impact of our activities. Why is the Digital Economy important to this area? The Digital Economy will help provide the technologies and socio- economic understanding to deliver services sustainably. Research in this area requires a holistic, multi- disciplinary approach to address not only the technical challenges, but also the human aspects (e.g. how to encourage personal motivation to engage and change attitudes and behaviours, how to build trust in information and services). Information: people will need the right information at the right time in the right format for them. How do we get individuals well connected and informed? How can we ensure delivery of high quality, trusted information with a consistent, personal, bespoke user experience, but without breaking privacy? What are the challenges in creation of open standards and associated legal frameworks? How can we tackle the challenges of creating knowledge, from information, from data? The DE has the potential to transform how we deliver services and thus have a transformational impact on society, for example: Transport: Which technologies and what cultural changes are needed to realise a society where there is no need to own a car and there are real alternatives to long- distance air travel? Energy and the Environment: Digital technologies can facilitate energy demand reduction at a number of levels of interaction between society and the energy system. How can the DE lower the negative environmental impact of societies and inform drastic decisions about scarce resources? Healthcare: Is the current model sustainable? How can we encourage a shift in focus of the current healthcare system to tackle long- term problems? The DE has a role in addressing the challenges of delivering high quality, personalised healthcare, managing wellness and driving down the cost of healthcare provision.

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