N8 Research Partnership appoints new director

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THE N8 Research Partnership, a collaboration of the North’s eight leading research universities, has announced the appointment of Dr Annette Bramley as its new director.

Dr Bramley joins the N8 Research Partnership from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), where she held numerous senior positions over an 18-year period.

N8 is the partnership body for the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and York and aims to maximise the impact of this research base to enable business innovation and societal transformation.

Dr Bramley’s new role will see her building on N8 relationships with public and private sector organisations and with funders, and forging new ones inside and outside of the N8 network.  Her goal will be to increase further the impact of N8 within the North of England and nationally, establishing innovative collaborations between businesses and the N8 university partners.

N8 creates programmes involving a critical mass of world class academics which form networks of innovation excellence with partners in other sectors – to drive investment and economic growth. It is the largest research-pooling partnership in the UK.

Dr Bramley said: “N8 has an excellent track record of establishing multidisciplinary partnerships across sectors and I look forward to building on its recent success and helping to drive it forward.

“N8’s role is to promote deeper collaboration between universities, business and society. Now, more than ever, we need to support the development of leading-edge research programmes that support and drive the growth of the knowledge-based economy.

“The North’s economy needs better digital and transport infrastructure, targeted funding for innovation and support for start-up and scale-up businesses, and a strategic vision for economic transformation and I firmly believe that N8 universities have a key role to play in this.”

N8’s main areas of collaborative research include Urban and Community Transformation, and Agri-Food. N8 seeks to pioneer new collaborations and engagement, develop programmes of world class interdisciplinary, translational research that deliver real world impact, and promote research capabilities within the North.

The N8 universities deliver more than £12 billion of revenue for the North, provide help to more than 31,000 businesses, and create more than £6.6 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) for the region – a larger contribution to Northern Powerhouse GVA than the entire Northern media industry, agriculture, or motor vehicle manufacturing sectors. The N8 universities are also responsible for 119,000 jobs in the North, inside the universities and across multiple other industries.*

Dr Bramley is a graduate of the University of Oxford where she also studied for her doctorate, following which she carried out postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge.

In her most recent role at the EPSRC as Head of Healthcare Technologies she has had particularly significant success in galvanising multidisciplinary research collaborations between researchers and funders.

She also brings to the N8 strong experience of organisational change, having played a prominent role in the successful transfer of EPSRC’s grants services to a shared service centre, including the implementation of a new IT system.  Other roles in EPSRC have included Head of Mathematical Sciences, Complexity Science and Engineering.

Professor Koen Lamberts, chair of the N8 and Vice Chancellor at the University of York said: “In appointing Annette Bramley as N8 Director we bring in a highly experienced and well-connected practitioner in the UK’s research community who will help advance the N8 strategy into exciting new research programmes.

“Dr Bramley will also help to continue our valuable and important part in creating a Northern Powerhouse by pioneering collaboration, knowledge exchange and engagement activities that establish Innovative Communities with business and society.”

Dr Bramley is also an artist and student at the Royal School of Needlework, graduating last year from the Certificate in Technical Hand Embroidery and is now studying for the Diploma. Her work has been exhibited by the Royal School and in galleries in the UK.

She added: “My love for both the arts and the sciences are one of the reasons that I am so passionate about multidisciplinary research and bringing people together to address real world challenges.”