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Leeds Crucible

This is a propramme aimed at early career academics who want time and space to think about their research and how they might collaborate.

The Leeds Crucible is a programme with 3 main objectives:

  1. To form a cross discipline network that is likely to foster interdisciplinary collaborations between researchers who normally don’t get the chance to meet
  2. To consider all aspects of knowledge exchange and the social and economic implications of your work – how can your work really make a difference to the world? How can you become more outwardly facing?
  3. To make you more aware of skills and attitudes of innovators – how can you be more innovative and creative in your own research?

It runs in 3 residential sessions called "Labs" (currently virtual) These are a mix of invited speakers, facilitated sessions and plenty of time to collaborate. Labs are usually themed as follows:

Lab 1 – Looking outwards

  • What role does academic research play in society?
  • How and why should we engage ‘the public’?
  • What is the relationship between the media and research?
  • How does the interface between researchers, policy and government work?
  • How can my work have a social and/or economic impact?

Lab 2 - Your research community and networks

  • How can we foster more interdisciplinary research?
  • How can we bridge the cultural gap between different disciplines?
  • What are the challenges in the infrastructure and culture of your institutions/companies that impede collaboration and innovation?

Lab 3 - Yourself

  • Examining some of your skill such as:
    • self awareness
    • ability to collaborate
    • creativity
    • risk-taking

At the end of Lab 3 participants share projects ideas then post-Crucible apply for small amounts of seed funding to explore their ideas and gather preliminary data. Our most successful outcome, in funding terms, has been a project looking at how weather radar can monitor insects to improve conservation. We awarded 5k and they turned their idea into 800k funded grant, with further funding from the Gates Foundation. Hear their story of what Crucible meant to them

Here is their project

Primarily though we are building a cohort of academics who are open-minded and motivated to work with colleagues from different disciplines.

Crucible runs across a number of UK universities, it is a highly successful programme. It can be an open programme where all the projects can emerge organically or it can be themed. We have run Crucibles around Energy, The Lived Environment and Global Development/SDGs.