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Five Bristol academics awarded funding to work with Catapult Centres via Researcher in Residence scheme

l-r: Dr Ola Michalec; Dr Saeed Jahdi

l-r: Professor Paul Howard-Jones; Dr Mark Goudswaard

Dr Ges Rosenberg

31 May 2023

Five Bristol academics have recently won funding from the national Research in Residence (RiR) funding competition which funds academics to work on an innovation project in partnership with the Catapult Network.

Six of the 42 applications in the last RiR funding call were from staff at Bristol. Of these, five have been awarded funding, each with a project budget of circa £50,000. The University’s high success rate has been partly attributed to Bristol’s strong innovation ecosystem.

A Catapult can help assess whether a concept tested in a university environment can be effectively scaled up to meet commercial requirements. Catapults can also be very helpful in finding routes to market, for example by developing technology demonstrators.

The RiR scheme is managed by the Innovation Launchpad Network+, in which the University of Bristol is a founding partner. Professor Ben Hicks, a Co-Investigator on the programme and lead of the Network’s Resilience Theme, summarised the scheme as: “A once-in-a-career opportunity to undertake either accelerated testing of commercial applications of research; apply and develop your skills and expertise to an industrial project; and/or build an industry/sector network to support your research career.”

second (Tranche 2) funding call for the RiR scheme has been launched with the following deadlines:

  • Expression of Interest: 15 June 2023
  • Full application with letters of support: 3 August 2023

You can watch a recording of the Tranche 2 launch event

The five funded Bristol projects

Dr Ola Michalec – Energy and Democracy In Digital Twins (EDIT), working with the Energy Systems Catapult

Dr Michalec will work with Energy Systems Catapult to investigate their recent digital twin demonstrator projects. During her residence, Ola will create two outputs: a decision support toolkit for digital twin practitioners concerned with ethical issues in their work; and, a report on democratising digital twins, which will analyse interactions between modelling and policymaking.

Dr Saeed Jahdi – Novel EV Drivetrain with High Temperature Silicon Carbide Devices: Bridging the Gap, working with the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult

Dr Jahdi will accelerate technologies that increase the energy density in wide-bandgap power semiconductor modules. Realization of energy density of 20+ kW/L is imperative if industry is to develop large-scale rapid EV chargers that are required for electrification of heavy-duty vehicles. 

Professor Paul Howard-Jones – Consumer learning journeys: an interdisciplinary framework to support net zero adoption, working with the Energy Systems Catapult

Professor Howard-Jones’ project aims to provide insights into Consumer commitment to renewable energy technologies (such as heat pumps for home heating) which necessitate a long cognitive and emotional journey for many consumers. The project draws on psychology, neuroscience and education to frame the customer’s “learning journey” from current to future energy worlds, identifying factors contributing to trust and positive responding, as well as potential touchpoints and levers to support consumer adoption of renewable energy. 

Dr Mark Goudswaard – Development, implementation and validation the Physical Digital Affordance Index for improving engineering decision making and enabling resilient design, working with the Digital Catapult

Dr Goudswaard will study real-world projects to develop a Physical-Digital Affordance Index (PDAI) that will enable the selection of appropriate tools based on their required outputs. By working with the Digital Catapult, Mark will have access to real world use cases and build a network of engineers and companies able to support his future research activities.

Dr Ges Rosenberg – Co-creating Station Innovations for Net Zero and Healthy, Inclusive Cities, working with the Connected Places Catapult

Dr Rosenberg's 15-month residency has four goals: 1) to learn from other international exemplars of transport infrastructure decarbonisation; 2) to identify opportunities to transition Bristol Temple Meads Station towards Net Zero Carbon; 3) to explore how the sustainability viewpoints can be embedded in digital decision support tools, specifically CPC’s proposed digital twin for BTM station; and 4) to co-create a route map to ’Net Zero Carbon’ for BTM station infrastructure and operations. The expectation is that learning from this project will be generalisable, and the framework developed will have wider application to other transport infrastructure and locations.



Further information

Learn more by visiting the Innovation Launchpad Network+ website or by watching this video.

Contact: Professor Ben Hicks, Co-Investigator in the Innovation Launchpad Network+, or Benoit Welch in the DREI Impact Development Team. 

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