Balancing Capability in an EPSRC theme

Supplementary content information

How research area strategies and trajectories were refreshed to take account of evolving circumstances during the last Delivery Plan.

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Doctor Liam Blackwell – Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council Theme Lead, Information and Communications Technologies

So it’s quite interesting to look at what happened during the last delivery plan.  Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council set out a number of positions across all of the research areas and of course that included the Information and Communications Technologies theme, or the Information and Communications Technologies research areas if you prefer, and our priorities.  But as time went on, in some cases actually it was quite interesting to see that there were changes that needed to be made, for example, with mobile computing where we saw how the area, as we expected, had to some extent been absorbed by other research areas, leaving what we would consider the remaining area, a very important area, pervasive ubiquitous computing.  So we classified those grants and we actually renamed the area and we identified a sort of description for it, and that was pervasive ubiquitous computing.

We also had another area, speech technology, which at the outset had been marked as a ‘reduce’, and we had quite good reasons for that, we had a rationale and that was generally accepted.  But what was very interesting was that during the Delivery Plan period, there were quite a significant number of developments in speech technology.  People remembered maybe that the introduction of voice recognition text, for example, by Google, developments like that and these were quite unexpected, even academics in the field hadn’t expected those. 

So with their help and their input and their prompting we actually decided to reassess the position we had on that area and change it from a ‘reduce’ to a ‘maintain’ to reflect that increased importance it now had.