EPSRC Knowledge map refresh 2015-2016

The EPSRC knowledge map refresh project provides a richer picture of the UK research landscape through our strategic relationships with Universities, particularly activity within EPSRC’s remit which is funded through other sources. A key objective was to begin to communicate the wider landscape across engineering and the physical sciences to a range of stakeholders including government and business.

The purpose of gathering this data was not to influence funding decisions, but was to:

  • Enable teams within EPSRC to form a more detailed picture of the engineering and physical sciences landscape within their areas.
  • Provide a tool to support universities in their understanding of their own institutions within the EPSRC portfolio and wider EPS landscape and inform future strategy.
  • Share high level information on UK capability with Research Councils and our Partner Organisations (across both the university and user base) to inform both existing and future collaborations and strategy development.
  • Support communication of the extent and value of the engineering and physical sciences landscape to broader stakeholders.

Our Framework and some of our current and previous Strategic Partner Universities provided us with data on other funding they receive for basic engineering and physical sciences research; this and our own data (such as number and type of grants and individuals involved on grants) and, crucially, our portfolio knowledge have been used to classify key Universities in our research areas. This data and information was used to identify the ‘major players’, ‘significant contributors’ and ‘contributors’ across all our research areas.

Please note that Universities who did not receive a classification for a given research area may be in receipt of funding in a given research area (from EPSRC or other sources). Similarly, in allocating these classifications, EPSRC have based decisions within the boundaries of EPSRCs remit, some institutions may be major players in areas which fall in the remit of other Research Councils.

Using the knowledge map visualisation tool

The knowledge map visualisation tool allows users to explore amalgamated views of the individual research area classifications by EPSRC Theme, Industrial Strategy and those of the Eight Great Technologies which are most relevant to EPSRC. The size of the circle on the map relates to the strength of the institution in that theme, based on its combined knowledge map classifications across specific research areas.  The size of the circle is not proportional to the size of funding received.

Each visualisation highlights the strength of classifications in research areas felt to be core to that theme, industrial strategy or eight great technologies (indicated in purple), and the strength in aligned areas (indicated in yellow). Variations in colour represent the number of research areas involved in that institutions visualisation; the darker the colour the more research areas that institution has identified strengths in within the overall theme/area.

Within each visualisation it is possible to view different options by selecting from the classification drop drown menu. Each map is fully interactive; enabling the user to zoom in and out of the map and hovering over the circles to identify the associated institution.

Key points to be aware of:

  • While the knowledge maps provide an indicative visualisation, it is important to note visualisations do not include the whole EPSRC portfolio and not all institutions in receipt of EPSRC funding are included as a Contributor.
  • Similarly, only EPSRC Framework and some of our current and former Strategic Partner Universities provided data on other funding they received in the engineering and physical sciences space. Other Universities have been classified based on EPSRC data and portfolio manager knowledge only.
  • Amalgamated visualisations (for themes, industrial strategy and eight great technologies) use whole research areas as building blocks. This means that there may be a degree of distortion where a research area is only partially relevant but completely incorporated in the visualisation.
  • The data displayed is static, a snapshot taken in October 2015, and is subject to change. For a dynamic representation of our portfolio, which complements these maps, please use of Visualising our Portfolio tool.

The classifications are defined as:

Major Player

Competitive on an international scale; multiple research and training activities within the area; industry support and a large EPSRC portfolio; major capability and dominant role in the UK landscape; absence would constitute a risk for the UK.

Significant Contributor

Collaborating with key leaders in the area and strong in their own right; capability and critical mass in the area; significant contribution to the UK landscape.


Capability in an area but lacking critical mass; individual star researchers.

Contact Details

If you have any questions, require more information on the Knowledge Map refresh, or would like this data in a different format, contact the University Interface team.

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: University Interface Team
Organisation: EPSRC