I have recently joined WMREDI on secondment from the University of Wolverhampton as part of the ongoing collaborative partnership with regional universities, Local Authorities, Chambers of Commerce, and Local Enterprise Partnerships in order to help set up a new regional initiative: the Evaluation Lab. I have been tasked with the practicalities of ensuring supporting infrastructure for the Lab are in place including building capacity ‘behind-the-scenes’ through case studies, online resources and content for our website, and training and networking opportunities within the West Midlands region.
What excites me is the shared ethos across WMREDI partners and the opportunities my secondment creates. At the University of Wolverhampton, we are passionate about making a positive impact on our students, our local community and beyond. Across the University, scholars within our Research Centres and inter-disciplinary Research Institutes work closely with commercial and civil society partners in a wide range of research and translational projects. From realising intelligent infrastructures to sustainable construction, from the arts in criminal justice to exercise as medicine, from presenting the self in cyberspace to creating cultural networks, and from designing for people with dementia to new discoveries in diabetes research – impact and policy engagement sits at the heart of all our activities.
I will bring to the role my experience as a research impact officer – as well as an artist and researcher, interested in the relationship between audience, artwork and space – and how engagement and immersion can be fostered, particularly in the digital age. On reflection, these interests are not so far removed from my professional duties – where I particularly enjoy working closely with researchers, finding out what motivates them about their subjects, and in particular, how this, in turn, can inform or transform lives outside of academia.
Just as an individual gains a subjective experience of an artwork, there too is the potential to receive an outcome or impact from another’s research. Whether through informing policy, education, developing products or services, creating alternative, innovative methods for information sharing, or pioneering techniques (among other methods of applying research), research has the potential to make a difference to society.
I am looking forward to working with WMREDI to develop this exciting initiative, learn how research from partner institutions within WMREDI collaboration can have practical applications throughout the region, and how its great research can be used to further understand and inform policy and practice.
This blog was written by Jo Mills, Evaluation Analyst, City-REDI / WMREDI, University of Birmingham.
The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI / WMREDI or the University of Birmingham.