UKERC’s new Whole Systems Networking Fund (WSNF)

On 27 January 2022, the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) will open the call for proposals for its Whole Systems Networking Fund (WSNF).

UKERC has £400,000 to allocate to up to 10 projects via grants that range in value from £10,000-£60,000. The call theme is ‘advancing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in energy research’ which can be adhered to in several ways, for example through research topics, project partners, stakeholders involved, beneficiaries or activities conducted.

UKERC is interested in funding projects with creative, non-traditional outputs that include well-developed engagement and networking activities.

The first round of the WSNF ran in 2019 with the aim of increasing EDI in energy research, focusing specifically on improving gender balance as women are significantly underrepresented in grant applications for energy projects. It also created opportunities for Early Career Researchers (ECRs).

Here, Dr Inna Vorushylo from Ulster University speaks about her WSNF project ‘Zero-in on NI Heat’:

“It was one of the best enablers in my career. It allowed me to connect with local and national stakeholders and made me recognisable in my research field. I am now often invited to present at events and conferences, which is partially thanks to my WSNF project. The fund supported ECRs, meaning I was able to become a Principal Investigator for my first research project, which is quite difficult for people on fixed-term contracts. In the end, I was promoted by my university, and I believe the WSNF project greatly helped with this.”

Although gender imbalance persists, there are also many other groups that fall outside the scope of traditional energy research. Therefore, this round of the WSNF will address diversity more broadly by creating opportunities for the inclusion of all characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010, as well as ‘diversity of circumstance’ (i.e. the inclusion of different career stages, UK nations, geographic locations, academic disciplines and types of institution).

UKERC wants to broaden both the people and organisations it engages with, connect new partners that have not worked together before and amplify fresh voices in the conversation around our future energy system. Find out more here.