The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) manages its portfolio and priorities to maintain the UK’s world-leading position in engineering and physical sciences research, aligning the portfolio we support to areas of UK strength and national importance.
Managing our portfolio and priorities (MoPP) is EPSRC’s evolved approach to balancing capability. Our aim is to promote a more future-focused strategy, through evidence-based analysis, data and knowledge.
EPSRC has a proactive engagement approach to managing its portfolios and priorities in partnership with the research community and stakeholders including the academic community, business, charities and other funders. Through our continuous engagement with stakeholders we collect information and evidence about the current UK research, training and innovation landscape. In partnership with our strategic advisory bodies and key community members, we synthesise this information and evidence into intelligence and knowledge about the landscape across engineering and physical sciences, and use it to set strategies for our portfolios and priorities.
How our approach has evolved
In July 2018 EPSRC moved to delivering its Balancing Capability strategy through an ongoing process of portfolio monitoring and evidence collection, in order to enable a more responsive approach to managing portfolios and setting strategies. Continuous engagement enables EPSRC to regularly review and evolve strategies in response to a rapidly changing landscape. This approach maximises opportunities to advance new and emerging research areas that arise from challenge-driven and discovery-led fields, and provides clear routes for our stakeholders to engage with us on a regular basis.
EPSRC is a knowledge-led organisation and values input from stakeholders to make evidence-based decisions. This ongoing monitoring approach to MoPP will ensure that EPSRC maintains its strong evidence-based culture, making the UK the best place in the world to research, discover and innovate.
How we set and monitor portfolio strategies
We set evidence-based strategies for each of our research areas, which are 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.
EPSRC continuously gathers evidence about the UK engineering, physical sciences, mathematical sciences and information and communication technologies (ICT) research landscape through broad engagement with the research and broader stakeholder communities as well as via the continuously open call for evidence.
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’s own data, 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 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.
A key component of portfolio management at EPSRC is gathering evidence about the current UK research, training and innovation landscape from stakeholders including the academic community, business, charities and other funders. This evidence is used to develop and monitor evidence-informed portfolio strategies.
MoPP is embedded through all of EPSRC’s business. To support this approach, EPSRC has an open call for evidence which provides an opportunity all year round for engineering and physical sciences stakeholders, through their organisations, to provide input on research areas, and is in addition to the usual ways EPSRC gathers evidence which include:
- evidence that has been published in the form of a report or publication – for example, international reviews, learned society reports and industry sector reports
- potential future opportunities – for example, horizon scanning
- community engagement activities – for example, workshops or university visits
- EPSRC portfolio data – for example, submission rates, balance between research and training
- community engagement through theme portfolio managers.
How we use the evidence we gather
Evidence collected through stakeholder engagement and the call for evidence is used to continuously develop EPSRC’s intelligence and knowledge about the current state of the engineering and physical sciences landscape.
Working in partnership with our strategic advisory bodies and key community members, we use evidence to identify areas of UK strength, areas or aspects of areas that may require further attention and to identify opportunities.