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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W033747/1
Title: IGNITE Network+: Innovation and Growth Needs Inclusion and engagement of all Talent in Energy research
Principal Investigator: Lunn, Professor RJ
Other Investigators:
Gagnon, Dr J Foley, Professor A Hussain, Professor T
Chandarana, Dr N Ting, Professor VP Ozbilgin, Professor M
Korre, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BAM Hitachi Europe Ltd Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 12 September 2022 Ends: 11 September 2026 Value (£): 1,020,388
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Jan 2022 EDI in Energy Interview Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The IGNITE Network+ aims to support sustainable, abundant, clean and equitable energy for all, by harnessing the talents of energy researchers from all backgrounds. The current lack of diversity in energy researchers stems not from a lack of interest, talent or ambition in underrepresented individuals, but from systemic inequalities in UK systems and institutions. The IGNITE Network+ will address diversity issues by: collecting data that can expose systemic inequality; designing, testing and implementing disruptive initiatives; monitoring the success of interventions and activities; identifying, disseminating and encouraging good practice. In parallel, we will work to support individuals from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds through a mixture of organisational interventions, mentorship, advice and advocacy.

To achieve the changes to energy systems needed to meet net-zero carbon by 2050 requires innovation, and its translation into industry, at pace. Increased diversity in energy researchers will significantly improve our chances of success. Research has shown that diversity in the workforce, if managed effectively, increases innovation, brings greater scientific impact and improves economic growth. Despite an increasing societal awareness of the value of equality and diversity, a decade of diversity initiatives has had little effect. UK engineering, in particular, has some of the poorest diversity statistics in Europe: 8% of professional engineers are female and 6% are black and minority ethnic (BAME), this compares to UK population statistics of 51% and 14% respectively. Reliable data on other forms of diversity such as disability and sexual orientation in engineering are unavailable.

Diversity initiatives generally focus on two areas: diversifying the pipeline of applicants from schools and higher education, and, once within the profession, training/mentoring the underrepresented workforce to reach leadership positions. These initiatives are based on the assumption that young people from diverse backgrounds are not attracted to degrees in engineering and physical science subjects, and that once they enter the profession, they require support in order to 'stick at it' and succeed. In other words, implying that the problem lies with the individuals themselves. Evidence shows that this is not the case. In many other countries women make up 40% of engineering graduates and research shows that underrepresented workers perform very well, without the need to additional support, if the workplace is inclusive.

The IGNITE Network+ aims to increase diversity in the energy sector by critically evaluating the systemic inequalities in policy and practice that prevent researchers from underrepresented backgrounds progressing through stages in their career pathway. We will: identify and challenge inequities in the standard research metrics used to assess researcher performance, disseminate our findings widely to universities, funding bodies, professional institutions and the energy industry; survey information on, and exchange best practice in, equality, diversity and inclusion with all partners; and pilot and encourage uptake of mechanisms to support diverse individuals within energy research through a mixture of mentorship, advice and advocacy, as well as training of senior managers and leaders.

The reports and recommendations made by the IGNITE Network+ are expected to provide a compelling, scientifically-robust case for change, which will therefore have to be resourced accordingly by funding councils, individual institutions and UK/devolved Governments. If we can provoke that change through this project, then all talent can flourish in UK energy research, which will have a major impact on the UK's ability to meet net zero carbon targets by 2050.

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Organisation Website: http://www.strath.ac.uk