Awards: KTP with Sentisum

innovateProf Nirmalie Wiratunga has been awarded a KTP with Sentisum (Askenti)  a London based technology start-up which aims to help enterprises understand customer’s opinion and turn those opinions and experiences into competitive advantage.  Dr Stewart Massie will be supporting the project, which should be completed by 2019.  Working in an area known as “Natural Language Understanding” the team will develop a software system which can accurately detect and understand topics, opinions, emotions expressed by humans in various conversations such as product reviews, complaint emails, or voice calls.


Award: AI and Falls Prevention

datalabData Lab have awarded a grant of nearly £100,000 to a partnership of RGU, Albyn Housing Society, Carbon Dynamic and NHS Highland to develop an effective falls prediction system that can be installed in peoples’ homes.  Prof Susan Craw and Dr Stewart Massie will collect data from sensors installed in specially designed ‘FIT Homes’. This is an excellent example of the ways that Artificial Intelligence is beginning to be used to assist and benefit individuals through applications with a social purpose. This project builds on two leading-edge Artificial Intelligence technologies: recognising human activities from real-time sensor data, and understanding these activity profiles to find similarities with the behaviour of other people and to recognise changes in activity patterns.  The project will run from 2017 – 2018 and will initially cover 15 new homes and one community space, A further 32 houses, including homes for veterans, will be built in Inverness and the surrounding area.

Funding Award: A victim-centred study of women’s demands for sustainable peace

Dr Natascha Mueller-Hirth has been awarded a grant by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland – her research is entitled “From transition to transformation? A victim-centred study of women’s demands for sustainable peace”.  Natascha, who works in the School of Applied Social Science will work on this project until August 2017, including three weeks of fieldwork in Kenya.

Most armed conflicts feature both direct and structural violence and occur in countries that face severe challenges of poverty and inequality. However, transitional justice – the dominant approach to dealing with legacies of violent pasts – has historically excluded structural concerns such as socio-economic inequalities and gender justice. The needs of victims of violence themselves have often been neglected. This is particularly regrettable since continued poverty and inequality have been shown to re-fuel conflict. The aim of the research project is to identify victims’ needs and their own senses of what is necessary to achieve sustainable peace, focusing on the reparative needs of women as a group that is particularly marginalised. Interviews and focus groups will be conducted with victims of the post-election violence in 2007/08 in Kenya. These data will enable an empirical study of the relationships between transitional justice and what might be called transformative justice – the tackling of structural violence and longer-term social change in a victim-centred manner to prevent future conflict.

This project hopes to give voice to the needs, demands and perspectives of a group of people who are often neglected in peace processes – women victims of human rights violations –  in order to better understand how societies should deal with legacies of violent pasts and how to prevent the recurrence of conflict. Research outputs will include academic publications, findings and recommendations for relevant government agencies, and a research blog.



Software Sustainability Institute’s Fellowship Programme 2017 – Applications open!

Software Sustainability InstituteThe Institute’s Fellowship programme funds researchers in exchange for their expertise and advice. Applications for the 2017 programme are now open!

The main goals of the Programme are gathering intelligence about research and software from all disciplines, encouraging Fellows to develop their interests in the area of software sustainability (especially in their areas of work) and aiding the Fellows as ambassadors of good software practice in their domains. The programme also support capacity building and policy development initiatives.

Each Fellow is allocated £3,000 to spend over fifteen months. The funding is flexible to support activities that are beneficial to both the Fellow’s and the Institute’s aims: for instance, to fund travel to conferences, to setup and run workshops, to organise software sustainability sessions at domain conferences, or to host, organise or teach at Software Carpentry or similar training events.

Continuity of funding for UK science and innovation following the EU referendum

Horizon 2020

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke, in a letter to David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has said:

“The Commission have made it clear that the referendum result changes nothing about eligibility for these funds. UK businesses and universities should continue to bid for competitive EU funds while we remain a member of the EU and we will work with the Commission to ensure payment when funds are awarded. The Treasury will underwrite the payment of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU. The UK will continue to be a world leader in international research and innovation collaboration, and we expect to ensure that close collaboration between the UK and the EU in science continues.”

Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation has also confirmed the Government’s continued support for Horizon 2020 projects in a letter to Professor Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE.


SGSAH’s Scottish Universities Research Collections Associate Scheme 2016 Pilot

Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities

Doctoral researchers in arts & humanities disciplines at any Scottish HEI are eligible to apply, regardless of their funding source.

Would you like to be able to explore & work with some of Scotland’s unique university holdings of archives & special collections? Scotland’s universities have a rich & diverse resource of special research collections.  Museums, rare books & archives: collections recognised as being of national importance & world significance.

SURCAS is a new scheme which supports doctoral researchers in the arts & humanities to undertake short-term research/knowledge exchange projects with collections & to produce a public engagement outcome.  This can take the form of an online exhibition; talks; short films; apps; performances; creative practice; or whatever the researcher agrees with the collections service.  In this pilot year, we are focusing on archives & special collections. SGSAH will provide funding to support you to undertake a project culminating in public engagement activity, including training, travel & accommodation & support for public engagement activity.

DEADLINE: 5pm Wednesday 24 August 2016 
Find out more about what collections are available on the SGSAH website here.

Funding Award: Commonhealth @ Aberdeen Foyer

Prof Heather Fulford  has started the Aberdeen phase of a research grant from the  MRC and ESRC awarded to RGU and partners.

CommonHealth is a five-year research programme (2014-2018) set up to investigate the impact of social enterprise on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Led by the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health at Glasgow Caledonian University, CommonHealth is a collaborative programme of 8 projects delivered by academics from the University of Stirling, Glasgow University, Robert Gordon University and UHI, working in partnership with a range of social enterprises across Scotland.

Aberdeen FoyerCommonHealth @ Aberdeen Foyer runs from 2016-18 and is one of the 8 projects within the CommonHealth programme.  The purpose of the project is to explore the challenges of collecting, recording, analysing, reporting and using data on health and wellbeing outcomes in a social enterprise. The RGU research team will work alongside Aberdeen Foyer to review the effectiveness of existing mechanisms used to measure health and wellbeing outcomes. A comparative investigation with other social enterprises in Scotland is also being planned. Using human-centred design techniques, new measurement frameworks will be designed, developed and tested with a view to helping social enterprises like Aberdeen Foyer increase the effectiveness of their health and wellbeing interventions and enable them to report more comprehensively and meaningfully on their impact.

Research Assistant Melanie Liddell is working alongside Prof Fulford in Aberdeen Business School on the CommonHealth @ Aberdeen Foyer project. Melanie is currently engaging closely with staff at Aberdeen Foyer to determine the range of data collected, the data recording mechanisms in place, and the reporting tools being employed.

Project contact: Professor Heather Fulford, (Centre for Entrepreneurship, Department of Management, Aberdeen Business School), Robert Gordon University; tel. 01224 263869; email

Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine Research Prizes 2017

Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine

The Research Prizes, valued £200,000 each will be available from October 2017

THE LISTER INSTITUTE of Preventive Medicine, which is a registered charity established to support biomedical and related research, now invites applications from outstanding young researchers for its 2017 Research Prizes. The Institute seeks diversity amongst its Prize­ winners – there is no stereotype of the ideal candidate – applicants may be working in university departments or research institutes, in any area of biomedical research, and be scientifically or medically trained. The Institute is pleased that over the years women have been well represented amongst its Prize-winners. However, what Prize-winners will have in common is the conduct of excellent research and the ability of the award to help establish or further their independent research careers. At least five awards will be made based on a number of criteria: the originality, and quality of the proposed research; the achievements of the applicant in the context of their own particular circumstances. Finally the beneficial impact that the Prize would have on the recipient’s career taking account of their research environment and other funding will be an important criteria.

Prize Winners will receive £200,000, or equivalent Euros, which may be used in any appropriate way to support their research, other than the provision or augmentation of personal salary. However, the monies may be used to free the recipient from teaching or administrative duties by funding a replacement lecturer etc. Expenditure of the award may take place over a period of up to five years.

Candidates must have more than three and less than ten years’ post-doctoral experience on 1 October 2017 and must have guaranteed employment for the first three years of the notional five years of the award in any not-for-profit institution (e.g. university, charity­ funded institute or Research Council Unit). The bulk of the research must be conducted in the UK or Republic of Ireland but the awards are transferable between institutions in the UK and Ireland.

Terms and Conditions, downloadable application forms and ‘how to apply’ details are available from the Institute’s website:

Any   queries should be directed to the   Institute’s Administrator: Telephone: 01923 801886 Email:

These prestigious awards provide outstanding young scientists with the opportunity, as Lister Institute Prize holders, to develop their research careers by giving them £200,000 to support their work over a five-year period.

The Award

All recipients of the Research Prize must initiate the award period within 12 months of becoming eligible to use the funds. All the funds must be committed by the end of the fifth year. Although the use of the funds is flexible and within the control of the Prize Fellow, outline spending plans should be submitted at the time of application. These can be altered with the Institute’s approval at any time. By way of example, the money can be spent on equipment, travel, consumables, salaries for a replacement lecturer, visiting scientists, post-docs or PhD students etc. The money must not be spent on providing or augmenting a personal salary. The money will be paid in advance to the Research Prize holder via the employing institution. Annual statements of expenditure must be produced by the employing institution and be endorsed by the Prize holder.

As a member of the AMRC the Institute’s awards qualify for FC’s charity research income support under the new funding formula and, consequently, any general overhead charge for indirect costs will not be accepted.

Transferring the Award

The award will be personal and transferable between all UK and Republic of Ireland research institutions, subject to the Institute’s approval. Any large items of equipment purchased using only the Institute’s funds will be considered as owned by the recipient of the award and transferable, during the five-year period of the award, provided that the recipient remains a Lister Institute Prize holder. The transfer of equipment purchased using more than one source of funds will be subject to negotiation between the respective institutions.

Working Abroad

The Research Prize holder must not spend more than six months abroad in any consecutive 12 month period and in total no more than one year over the course of the five years.


Every Research Prize holder is expected to produce a short annual and detailed final report at the end of the fifth year and give talks at, and provide abstracts for, the annual Lister Fellows’ meetings. Recipients of the Research prize will be expected to attend the annual Fellows’ meeting, this year to be held on Friday 8 September 2017, provide abstracts and give presentations when required.


The Agreement to be signed will make clear that the Research prize holder and any other people employed using the Institute’s funds are not Lister employees.


All publications must state that the research worker hold a Lister Institute Research Prize fellowship.

Support from Other Sources

All other grants and “core funding” must be detailed with the application. The Institute accepts that Prize holders will seek additional support for their work from other sources.


The Prize Fellow will be required to notify and disclose to the Institute all commercial agreement already entered into and particularly to those relating to the assignment of patents and other similar rights. However, all Prize Fellows are encouraged to protect any new findings, where applicable, by patent protection in conjunction with their host Institution’s business development office- in all cases the Institute must be informed.

Completed forms must be returned not later than Friday 4 November 2016.

Guest Blog: Professor Anne Douglas’ AHRC Funded Research ‘Cultural leadership and the place of the artist’

In this guest blog from Professor Anne Douglas, Gray’s School of Art, Anne explains the significance of her team’s current AHRC funded research Cultural leadership and the place of the artist (2015-16) and emphasises the importance of European collaboration in conducting this research. To see more on this funded work visit:–2015-16/

“Thinking Public”

On the 22nd June, the day before the referendum, RGU Senior Research Fellow, Jon Price, delivered the keynote of European Network on Cultural Management and Policy’s (ENCATC) 6th policy debate focusing on our current AHRC funded research into Cultural Leadership and the place of the artist. ENCATC is one of four partners in our current research On The Edge (OTE)  which also includes Creative Scotland and Clore Leadership Foundation. The debate was attended by a number of prominent figures from arts and culture throughout Europe including a number of policy officers from the European Commission.

Looking back, this was a poignant moment in the UK’s relationship with Europe. It marked one of many extraordinary opportunities to engage in discussion with European partners, widening our horizon of understanding across national borders, expertise and experience. This opportunity for debate now seems remarkably precious.

OTE’s research into leadership in the arts and culture from 2006 onwards has, in all of its three phases, been mindful of the social, cultural and political conditions in which the discourse on leadership has unfolded. The research has evolved in three distinct phases.

The first phase of AHRC funded Artist as Leader research (2006-9) emerged in response to the Cox Review (2005) that had been commissioned to foreground the role of creativity in industrial growth. Critical of the economist and instrumental values of the Creative Industries reflected in that report, our research at the time drew attention to the missing voice of the artist and opened up leadership to a different perspective– What might leadership mean to the arts? Might the experiences of artists enrich and extend the meaning of leadership in new ways?

The second phase, The Discourse of Cultural leadership (2016), Jon’s doctoral study, drew the findings of the Artist as Leader research into a new context in which the rhetoric of growth was now displaced by a new rhetoric of resilience, represented in part through a significant reduction in public funding, particularly to the arts and culture. This economic change required us to think differently about leadership. The artist needed to be placed i.e. imagined in relation to everything else, to be conceived as part of a much greater and more complex cultural dynamic that we had previously envisaged.

To this end Jon has provided us with some key concepts. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, he traces leading as a movement in which there is a beginning that necessitates a following through, or completion. Leadership therefore cannot be atomised in the persona of ‘the strong man.’ It is a process, one that is subject to the boundlessness, unpredictability and plurality of life itself, concepts that Arendt laid out in her key text The Human Condition (1958). The originality of Jon’s thinking lies in tracing the implications of these characterisations for new possible ways of being in civic space in 21st century and its particular conditions.

This brings us to the present. At no point in the history of UK’s politics has political leadership been more absent, along with appropriate civic processes that shape and inform public opinion. What we are currently experiencing is not the kind of fluidity and responsiveness implied by Arendt’s unpredictability, boundlessness and plurality. These demand quality of relationship, of trust and of a certain improvisatory skill in keeping going. In contrast both in the UK and Europe, we are experiencing disintegration of the public sphere and public values.  This constitutes a significant challenge to the third research phase of the research Cultural Leadership and the place of the artist (2015-16) and its remit to disseminate the earlier phases research and further engage public debate on the issues.

Professor Annick Schramme of University of Antwerp’s Management School pointed out in her introduction to the debate on 22nd June that cultural leadership in a European context needs to take account of globalisation, migration and digitisation, all outwardly focused forms of engagement. She noted that in many ways the discourse of leadership has emerged at a moment of crisis in the arts and culture in relation to value. There are few ‘free spaces’ left in which to frame and debate questions of value. Throughout the discussion we became more and more aware of the implicit tension in leadership as a construct – the desire on the one hand to reach out and take risks through pioneering work and, on the other, a counterforce that consolidates and sustains. Leadership in management is frequently defined in terms of the latter, instituting hierarchies that value loyalty over judgement and the subjectivity of individual forms of action.

While these apparently contradictory forces inevitably co-exist and co-constitute public life, Philipp Dietachmair of the Tandem network, revived a sensibility that we can so easily lose sight of. Tandem is an Amsterdam based network funded by the European Cultural Foundation that supports long-term cooperation, knowledge development and networking opportunities between cultural managers across the EU and beyond. Philipp discussed leadership through his experience of co-ordinating small scale projects with Turkey and Eastern Europe, contexts in which, he suggested, we do not have the luxury of not thinking public.

In the shock waves of referendum and post referendum behaviours, we again do not have the luxury of not thinking public.

Our research will continue next week in a second workshop to be held at Bozar, in the centre of Brussels, 12th July 2016, 10.00 – 4.00 pm within Bozar’s current exhibition, Facing the Future Art in Europe 1945-68. It will seek to question the curatorial statement that the year of 1968 “ brought to a close an extremely productive period for a playful, utopian and activist form of art” (author’s emphasis). We will draw on art practices that have emerged since 1968, practices that manifest a leading role in terms of ‘thinking public’ by working within the prevailing conditions and in so doing, create, in quite grounded and practical ways, a new sense of possibility.

The three questions with which Jon ended his presentation on 22nd June are relevant to this new discussion

  • How should training provision for the cultural sector respond to definitions of leadership that go beyond the individual?
  • Can leadership training accommodate questions of social and cultural value as well as organisational effectiveness?
  • How can our policy making cope with unpredictability and create space for the role of the artist in public life?

Anne Douglas is a Professor in Robert Gordon University’s Grays School of Art. Her research re-examines the role of the professional artist as a catalyst for social change, including environmental and economic.