Balancing Capability – How we set & monitor portfolio strategies

EPSRC’s Balancing Capability strategy is delivered through setting aspirational strategies and trajectories for each of our 111 research areas and monitoring the progress of these. The evidence based strategy and trajectory for each area is developed and monitored in partnership with our research and stakeholder communities with key input from our strategic advisory teams. The gathering and analysis of evidence from a range of sources is key to the development, monitoring, and delivery of all of EPSRC’s strategies.

Our Approach

EPSRC continuously gathers evidence about the UK engineering, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, and ICT research landscape through broad engagement with the research and broader stakeholder communities as well as via the continuously open call for evidence (for further details on evidence please see the gathering evidence process page).

EPSRC’s research area strategies are developed based on knowledge of the whole UK landscape developed through engagement with the community, collection of the best available evidence (such as EPSRC data on Grants on the Web, UK Research Excellence Framework 2014, funding from other bodies, international reviews and other reports), and advice from key groups and individuals (such as our Strategic Advisory Teams, learned societies, and industry partners).

EPSRC reviews its evidence and intelligence about the research landscape on a regular basis in partnership with our strategic advisory bodies, and considers whether the articulation or strategic direction of a research area needs to be updated in the context of the evidence base available. Such changes are likely to occur where changes in the research and funding landscape have an impact on research areas. Evidence and strategic advice will be sought throughout the year, but updates to research areas will be made annually. It is anticipated that changes to both research areas and the published evidence base will be made in April/May each year.

Key Factors

In gathering evidence and developing aspirational strategies for our portfolio, a number of different factors are considered. These include:

The overall Quality of the research in the area:

  • The international standing of the research area
  • The  potential of research in the area to lead to transformative or disruptive research
  • Whether the area provides the UK with a unique capability in an international context

The National Importance of the research area:

  • How research in the area contributes to and/or supports other research disciplines, contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges, contributes to current or future UK economic success and/or enables future development of key emerging industry(s)
  • The extent to which the research area has the potential to meet national strategic needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world leading research activity (including areas of niche capability)
  • How research in the area fits with and complements other UK research funded in the area or related areas in EPSRC’s portfolio

The Capacity of the research:

  • The balance of people including the number and balance of researchers at different career stages, as well as future aspects such as the risk of losing capacity and potential leadership.
  • The range of accessible facilities and equipment
  • The coverage of research themes across the engineering and physical sciences such as interdisciplinary working, the flexibility of the UK’s capacity and the ability to respond to social challenges and EPSRC’s strategic aspirations.