Excellence with Impact

Professor Wayne Powell, IBERS Director receives the Award from David Willetts MP Minister for Universities and Science.  Copyright Andrew Davis, John Innes Centre.

Professor Wayne Powell, IBERS Director receives the Award from David Willetts MP Minister for Universities and Science. Copyright Andrew Davis, John Innes Centre.

25 March 2011

IBERS, the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University, has won one of the first ever Excellence With Impact Awards from the BBSRC -  the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

The winners and runners up were announced at a business networking event in London on Thursday 24th March 2001 by Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP.

The Award recognises the greatest culture change achieved by a university department
during the  BBSRC Excellence With Impact scheme,  which ran from 2008 -2010, with 20 university departments UK wide participating  in the competition.

It was developed to reward and esteem those university departments most active in embedding a culture that recognises and values the achievement of impact alongside excellent research.

IBERS was established in April 2008 following the merger of the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, formerly part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with Aberystwyth University. IBERS continues to receive significant funding for research from the BBSRC.

David Willetts, UK Minister of State for Universities and Science said:"Bioscience is a key growth sector, which is why we announced a £70 million investment in BBSRC research campuses in Norwich and Cambridge in the Budget. These awards recognise the impact of bioscience both on the economy and society, through driving innovation, training highly-skilled people, improving businesses and public services and attracting foreign investment."

Professor Wayne Powell, Director of IBERS said
“We are delighted to receive this prestigious Award in recognition of the work done to promote cultural change to create an entrepreneurial and outward looking Institute that champions and embraces mission diversity in a modern 21st century university department. I would like to thank the staff at IBERS who are embracing and supporting this cultural change.”

Professor Noel Lloyd, Vice-Chancellor said
“I’m delighted that the work of IBERS has been recognised in this way.  It acknowledges the emphasis placed by Aberystwyth University on engagement in research which is of high quality and at the same time has wider impact.  The continuum which takes pure research through applications to innovation is an important element of our approach.  I look forward to further enhancement of the impact of the exciting research being undertaken in IBERS.”

IBERS worked with the BBSRC over two years, producing interim and final reports on their activities, achievements and successes. During this time BBSRC staff visited IBERS to discuss the work they have been doing around impact, and to advise on the funding opportunities available from BBSRC to help scientists explore the potential for social and economic impact from their research.

Each department hosted a judging visit at which the judges were able to hear about the impacts that had been achieved, and how the department was seeking to change the culture around the importance of the wider impact of research.

The decision of the judges recognises an impressive achievement of culture change and in its final report said that IBERS demonstrated a real and tangible change in the way its staff viewed the wider impact of their research.  This was driven by a clear strategic vision and ambition that embraced not just economic impact, but also social impact. The judges felt that this wider perspective had been fostered throughout the competition, and was now widely apparent and embedded.
Dr Celia Caulcott, Director of Innovation and Skills, BBSRC said "We would like to congratulate the four prize-winning departments and also acknowledge the effort, enthusiasm and achievement of all 20 that participated.

"This has been a two year process and during that time we have seen not just some extraordinary work and outstanding innovation, but also a major shift in how the importance of the wider impact of research is appreciated by staff and students in the participating departments. We have also gained an invaluable insight into the types of activities that are being used across our community to help ensure the widest possible impacts from the research that BBSRC funds."

The winning departments each receive £150,000 and each runner up department receives £25,000. This money will be reinvested to support their impact activities. This may include sharing best practice, facilitating collaboration with end-users, and providing training in relevant skills.

The winners and runners up are:

Greatest culture change
Winner - University of Aberystwyth IBERS Runner up - University of Liverpool School of Biological Sciences

Greatest delivery of impact
Winner - University of Dundee College of Life Sciences Runner up - Newcastle University Institute for Ageing and Health