N8 Research Culture: N8 and UKRI’s Career Mobility Roundtable


As part of our focus on Research Career Mobility in our N8 Research Culture campaign, we’re reflecting on a career mobility roundtable that was convened by the N8 Research Partnership (N8) and linked into the UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) Connect North West event.  

Taking place on 8th February 2024, the roundtable was chaired by Prof. Matthias Ruth, Chair of the N8 Research Culture and Environment Group (N8 RCE).  

The discussion focused on career mobility across academia, business, policy, and government, emphasising innovation and fluid transitions, in both directions, between HEIs and other sectors. Currently, there is low researcher mobility in the UK, primarily occurring at later career stages and between larger companies and universities. 

Attendees shared personal experiences, highlighting serendipitous transitions rather than planned career moves, driven by values, a desire for knowledge sharing and policy influence. Challenges in international mobility, include slow NHS ethics approvals and lack of support for accompanying families, were also discussed.  

The key points that emerged from the discussion included: 

  • Defining researcher career mobility and its stages so that we have a shared understanding of what we mean by ‘career mobility’ between the diverse employing organisations. 
  • Addressing perceptions and stereotypes about universities to overcome personal biases and celebrate diversity of organisational types. 
  • Reforming reward and recognition structures so that organisations can acknowledge and value different skills and contributions to the research and innovation endeavour. 
  • Balancing collaboration and career mobility so that the appropriate expertise can be accessed in the most effective way. 
  • Leveraging Excellence Frameworks and UKRI processes to support career mobility. 
  • Mitigating risks associated with career moves so that there is less risk placed on individuals and more sharing of risk with funders and employers. 
  • Promoting, celebrating and rewarding mobility as part of career trajectories to show that career mobility benefits the individual, the industry, and the academic institution alike, and to break deep set frames of reference of what success looks like.  

Participants reflected on the need to focus on ecosystem development, enabling conversations, and supporting mobility within networks. 

There is a need to further embed the National Centre for Universities and Business Taskforce Report findings within UKRI and to effectively showcase successful career mobility case studies. 

Next Steps: 

The N8 Research Culture and Environment Group will reflect on inputs and consider actions to support researcher mobility in the North of England. 

UKRI will take steps to implement findings and promote mobility initiatives. 



Name  Role  Organisation 
Prof. Matthias Ruth 



Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Chair, N8 RCE  University of York 
Dr Annette Bramley  Director  N8 Research Partnership 
Prof. Dame Jessica Corner  Executive Chair  Research England 
Isobel Stephen  Executive Director for Strategy, Performance, and Engagement  UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) 
Prof. Christopher Smith  Executive Chair  Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Emma Degg  Chief Executive  North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) 
Jen Rae  Innovation Programmes Lead  Northern Powerhouse 11 (NP11) 
Dr Hannah Stewart  Paediatric Auditory Neuroscientist and UKRI Future Leader Fellow  Lancaster University 
Dr Rachel Curwen  Director of Research Development  University of Leeds 
Prof. Frans Muller  Chair in Chemical Process Engineering  University of Leeds 
Prof. Georgina Endfield  Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Research Environment and Postgraduate Research  and Professor of Environmental History  University of Liverpool 
Dr Sara Closs-Davies  Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Taxation  University of Manchester 
Pooja Furniss  Associate Director of HR and Recruitment Services  University of Sheffield 
Prof. Rory Duncan  Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation and member of the NCUB taskforce on Researcher Career Mobility  Sheffield Hallam University