The link between delivering research excellence and ensuring access to state-of-the-art equipment is clear. The N8 Sharing for Excellence and Growth report outlined not only the changing context of equipment funding but also the barriers that arise as a result of the new equipment sharing agenda.

Following this, the next phase of work was to review and address the many operational issues that arise when equipment is shared. The work focused on the development of a framework and set of guiding principles that can be utilised across the Higher Education (HE) sector to support universities to increase efficiencies and ensure effective utilisation of research equipment.

The framework has been divided into four key areas:

A primary outcome of this work has been the production of a suite of supporting documents, known as the N8 Equipment Sharing Toolkit (N8 EST) that can be used as templates and prompts to assist each Higher Education Institution (HEI) to support equipment sharing.

Why have we done the work?

The need for increased equipment sharing has become apparent over the last few years, particularly with restricted funding for capital equipment and a more rigorous review of capital funding proposals. Whilst formal equipment sharing as a benchmark or assessment criteria for funding may be new, sharing of equipment is a regular part of research activity for many academics; with collaborative research providing the clearest example of existing mechanisms for sharing.

The N8 EST will help HEIs to make the sharing of equipment a more consistent part of everyday business.

Working to a set of shared guiding principles will allow HEIs to remain effective and efficient owners and users of world-class research infrastructure, encourage external funders to continue to support investments in university-led facilities and ensure that the UK does not lose its prominence as a leader in research excellence. The framework will support HEIs to work collectively and react quickly and efficiently to opportunities for new capital investments. It is expected that the N8 EST will support HEIs to prepare for collaborations at both a pre and post-award stage.

Launch Event Presentations

The N8 Equipment Sharing Toolkit was launched on 13 February 2014 and links to the presentations can be found below.