Environmental science needs to be more equal, diverse and inclusive for underrepresented communities. This ‘digital sprint’ activity will leverage cutting edge digital technology and methods to support solutions and methods for opening up environmental science for a broader community. The digital sprint activity includes all stages from collaboration development through the hackathon to funded pilot projects.
Team activities for the hackathon should focus on one or more of the following, and complement NERCs commitment to responsible research in the context of the NERC remit:
- which underrepresented communities are those who will most greatly benefit from digital approaches and which specific digital approaches benefit which under-represented communities?
- what digital technologies and methods exist for making environmental science more equitable and accessible?
- what might prevent people from engaging with these currently?
- what are the best practices for using digital technology for broadening access and addressing EDI in environmental science?
- what methods can be used to assess the impact, whether positive or negative, of digital technologies and methods on EDI?
You may wish to consider how the COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed the broader use of digital technologies.
Outcomes may be generated in the form of or supported by apps, software development platforms, for example:
- GitHub repositories
- websites or other open digital platforms.
All outcomes should be open and shareable.
Outcomes from the hackathon will not be a fully polished solution but will showcase the capability of the research. If funded to pilot project phase, teams will continue to develop these outcomes further to a demonstrable solution.
Once submitted and assessed by the panel, the highest ranked pilot project applications will be funded up to £40,000 (80% full economic cost) for up to six months. Projects must begin by 1 December 2021.
No studentships should be included in pilot proposals.
Activities should consider responsible research practices, and this should be indicated in proposals for pilot funding. The assessment panel will consider whether applicants have shown they have considered the material impact of their work or taken practical action to minimise harm or maximise benefit proportional to the size and nature of the proposals.
This funding opportunity will take a ‘digital sprint’ format designed to generate outcomes throughout the stages and ultimately fund a number of small pilot projects coming out of a hackathon event. This is the format of the ‘digital sprint’ with information for each step.
We anticipate teams will be composed of those specialising in EDI, environmental science and digital technologies in some capacity.
In order to support collaborations across disciplines we have established the NERC EDI digital sprint forum.
Please use this to help find teammates, develop ideas and share contact information for the hackathon and resulting proposals.
Use of this tool to develop collaborations is not mandatory but is encouraged.
Please note this forum will be public so please only share information you are willing to make publicly available.
Please note NERC will monitor the forum for inappropriate material but does not endorse the material within the forum.
NERC values EDI across all its funding programmes, and actively encourages teams to be made up of diverse groups of researchers.
Team sign up
All teams must have signed up for the hackathon by 15 October 2021 at midnight.
Note that taking part in the hackathon is a prerequisite for pilot submission.
Once the deadline to sign up has closed NERC head office will share more information regarding taking part in the hackathon and the process for submitting subsequent proposals for pilot projects.
We will also release a list of mentors who can support activities throughout the hackathon period.
Collaborative solution development: hackathon
Over the course of three weeks teams will work on solutions to the challenge presented around EDI in environmental science, and the potential for use of digital technologies in opening it up for underrepresented communities.
The hackathon should be a condensed time period for collaboration to develop a digital solution. To some extent this replaces the period of time spent developing a proposal for a traditional grant round.
Outcomes focused on supporting greater EDI in environmental science may be generated in the form of, or supported by:
- software development platforms, for example, GitHub repositories
- other open digital platforms.
All outcomes should be open and shareable.
While the hackathon focuses on the development of your ideas, you can submit an accompanying proposal to try and secure pilot project funding to further develop those ideas, solutions, methods or tool.
Submission of hackathon outcomes and pilot project proposals
Submission of outcomes from the hackathon and the relevant proposal for one of the follow-on projects will take place via Je-S by 15 October 2021.
The proposal is a shortened version of the typical NERC funding application, given the timeframe, and allows NERC to ensure we have the appropriate information we require for funding.
Assessment and funding for pilot projects
Submitted outcomes and accompanying proposals will be assessed by a panel of experts to be appointed by NERC.
Highest ranking teams will be awarded a £40,000 (80% full economic cost) research project to develop their ideas from the hackathon into a presentable solution or method.
UKRI standard terms and conditions will generally apply with some variation due to the method of payment (purchase order or invoice).
This activity will be exclusively virtual. We do not expect 100% time commitment over the three weeks for this hackathon. Teams should self-organise the time they require to work on their activity depending on the time they are willing and able to commit.
Facilitated sessions through Slack
So as to not disadvantage anyone by holding events at specific times, that not everyone will be available for, we’ve established a Slack channel.
The Slack channel will be available at all times, and include short facilitated sessions organised at a range of times of day so that anyone can engage. Content from these sessions will be retained so anyone can engage at a later date. Use of this technology is optional as it will require individuals to have named accounts.