Joining the University of London on 1st September 2016 was a key milestone in City’s history. It clearly signaled our stronger standing and reinforces our position among pre-1992 London higher education institutions.
As we take our place within the research-intensive institutions among our peer group, we will continue to work towards our vision of being a leading global university, undertaking world leading and internationally-excellent research, but which also has distinctive strengths in relation to business and the professions. As set out in City’s Vision & Strategy 2026, our vision for the future is thus one where we have significantly grown our research and enterprise reputation as well as the contribution we make to wider society.
City made great progress in enhancing the quality and intensity of its research over the period of the Strategic Plan 2012 to 2016, moving to a position by 2013 where 40% of academic colleagues were producing research outputs assessed as being world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) as measured by Research Excellence Framework (REF). This represented a significant increase from previous assessment exercises, up from 25% in 2008 and 20% in 2010. We also significantly strengthened our enterprise activities, in part evidenced by our strong impact performance in REF 2014 based on 49 submitted case studies. We are proud of our success and will continue to strengthen the quality of our research through the next stage of our journey as set out in the Vision & Strategy 2026 and in this Research & Enterprise Strategy for the next five years to 2021.
Central to this are the strategic priorities set out in City’s Vision & Strategy 2026 with its focus on Quality (‘Better’), Growth (‘Bigger’) and Partnership. This strategy focuses on these three priorities in relation to City’s research and enterprise activity:
- Build on the quality (‘better’) focus of the Strategic Plan 2012 to 2016, maintaining City’s current upwards trajectory in research quality and intensity. By 2021, we will move from 40% to at least 60% of total academic staff producing 3*/4* research outputs as measured by the REF, with 18% producing 4* research outputs. We will concurrently move to 100% of impact case studies rated as 3*/4* with at least 40% rated as 4*. We will establish new interdisciplinary research centres, enabling us to better produce world leading research that address the major challenges facing society. We will also strengthen our reputation for world leading and internationally-excellent research around current areas of strength, and enhance the linkages between our research and enterprise activity through knowledge exchange and intellectual property (IP) commercialisation;
- Achieve growth (‘bigger’) in a way which maintains or increases quality. We will increase our external research grant funding to £15 million per annum, diversifying the funding sources and increasing the numbers of academic staff gaining it. By 2021, our intensity will be increased where existing research has momentum and we will grow our Units of Assessment horizontally where City’s existing strengths can be leveraged through new areas. This will include new disciplines, increasing both the volume of research and capacity of the institution to undertake interdisciplinary research;
- Leverage research and enterprise partnership, working with academic, public, private and third sector institutions as research collaborators and impact partners, within London and nationally but also to a much greater extent internationally in line with the priorities set out in the Internationalisation Strategy.
We will provide the appropriate tools (facilities, systems, processes and policies) to support research and enterprise endeavours. Significant goals related to this include achieving all doctorates completed within four years as well as participating in further Research Council’s UK (RCUK) Doctoral Training Consortia (DTPs) for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and other research councils.
We will take a proactive approach to recruitment, staff development, diversity and reward in line with Academic Staff Plans to ensure we attract and retain the best academic staff. We will also strengthen academic staff performance management, with a significant increase in development. For example, we will provide support for mentoring early career academics and will offer new types of research grant application training. Related to this, we will develop clearer incentives for academic staff to engage in world leading research publication, grant-capture and impact. In line with our Athena SWAN application and subsequent applications and plans by Schools, we will ensure that equality and diversity are deeply embedded in our research and enterprise policies, practices and culture. We will also strengthen our research student (PhD) and post-doctoral research communities as the basis for a vibrant, diverse and innovative research environment, facilitated by improvements to support for research students and their enhanced integration into City’s wider research community.
Beyond the recruitment, retention and celebration of individual talent, diversity and collaborative achievements, this Research & Enterprise Strategy sets out a strong inter- disciplinary research agenda designed to deliver immediate and long-term benefits both to City and ultimately to wider society. Through Schools, we will establish interdisciplinary research centres that build upon and further develop existing areas of interdisciplinarity but we will also seek to embed interdisciplinarity much more widely across the institution.
City will harness its academic and professional expertise and seize opportunities to become a major player in addressing global issues and contribute to the development of innovative solutions to complex problems. This will not only be achieved through research outputs, enterprise activities and impact but also through the development of a research culture that values, encourages and rewards academic curiosity and success, and through the dissemination of research via the institutional repository and Open Access publishing. We will seek to enhance this culture through new international research partnerships, supported by a new Distinguished Visiting Professor programme.
With respect to enterprise activity, by 2021 we aim to double the number of Knowledge Exchange Partnerships (KTPs) entered into per annum. We will also establish an IP commercialisation company supported by sector-comparable investments funds in order to double the rate at which IP commercialisation leads to ‘spin-out’ companies. By 2021, we will also triple the volume of academic consultancy contract activity and embed enterprise education across the curriculum to make City distinctive and a UK higher education sector leader in this area.