Working together

What was the priority?

Working Together encouraged collaboration across the ICT research landscape, with other disciplines and with potential beneficiaries of ICT research.

Working Together formed part of EPSRC's broader work to encourage cross-disciplinary working. Success in the ICT Theme's other priorities, both current and future, will inevitably require input from a range of research areas. Working Together encourages this.

Working Together sought to help researchers in ICT to do something truly new or to take a step away from their main focus of work. It identified dependencies, convergences, challenges and opportunities which require contributions from across the landscape.

Working Together was a key part of the ICT contribution to EPSRC's Challenge Themes. ICT researchers have been encouraged by Working Together to connect with researchers outside their own immediate areas of interest or expertise and to engage effectively with these Themes.

Working Together also highlighted the need to consider ethical implications, societal factors and developments in other research areas when planning a research project. It is part of the awareness of state-of-the-art and current challenges that reviewers expect to see demonstrated in research proposals.

Finally, Working Together was also about the dissemination and exchange of knowledge between upstream and downstream research. Free flows of people, knowledge and experience are essential to ensure we have a healthy research base. They accelerate impact and contribute to the creation of a balanced research capability in the UK. Working Together is one way of making this happen.

Implementation of the Priority

This priority was relevant to all researchers, in all areas and for all projects. We provided examples of how it might be included in any proposal at any career stage.

All Fellowship applicants were asked to set out how they will contribute to their disciplines and research communities by 'Working Together'. In addition, the ICT community were also encouraged to submit proposals contributing to the this priority using our other mechanisms, in particular Programme Grants as these can bring together larger teams to work together on shared goals.

All the other cross-ICT priorities rested on Working Together. Nearly every intervention that the ICT Theme made in the 2010-2016 Delivery Plan period, for example the ICT Pioneers competition and the 'User Interaction with ICT' call run in 2015, were both scoped in a manner to do encourage researchers to work together across disciplines.

Outcomes of the Priority

Around a third of the ICT research portfolio supported by EPSRC reflects the aims of Working Together. As required, all successful Fellowship applications are able to make a good case for how they would contribute to the priority. Our significant investments in Centres for Doctoral Training are all built on a foundation of Working Together.

ICT challenges, research and skills pervade the current EPSRC outcomes. The relevance of ICT research and research training to the Connected Nation is obvious and immediate. As the UK becomes more connected, the need for new understanding and uses of ICT to create a Resilient Nation grows. ICT is a core part of many future solutions in telehealth, monitoring, self-management and inclusion and so is essential for a Healthy Nation. Similarly if the UK is to move to being a high-added value manufacturer, we will need to make use of data, automation and other cutting-edge ICTs on the way to being a Productive Nation. The Working Together priority has helped position the ICT research communities so that they can contribute to these effectively.

Most importantly, Working Together has been a clear statement of our commitment to collaborative and cross-disciplinary approaches, providing visible support from the ICT Theme for researchers who choose to work in that way.