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South West research intensive universities join forces for new collaboration

Press release issued: 24 January 2013

The Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter today announced a formal collaboration, bringing together a high concentration of research expertise and capability in the South West of England and Wales. The collaboration will enable the group to explore and identify opportunities where their combined research strength can more effectively address global challenges, while also maximising the impact of and return on investment from research funding.

The collaboration will enable the group to explore and identify opportunities where their combined research strength can more effectively address global challenges, while also maximising the impact of and return on investment from research funding.

The group of four research intensive universities, each of which have significant research capabilities and which represent a total turnover in excess of £1,300 million, will be known as the GW4. There are already strong partnerships across the four institutions and the collaboration seeks to build on these.

Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, said:  “Regional groupings of research intensive universities are a rapidly emerging and important evolution, enabling the sharing of research infrastructure and the identification of thematic areas of expertise.  These will be increasingly important in order for universities to address grand intellectual and societal challenges.”

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bath, said: “The collective strength of the new grouping is much more than the sum of its individual parts. Taken together, the breadth and depth of our research expertise is truly impressive providing a powerful new contender in the increasingly intense competition for research funding on both the national and international level.”

Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, said: “We want to enhance Cardiff’s world-leading research and reputation by creating a critical mass of research excellence with other UK universities. In a competitive higher education sector we need to find new ways for Wales to compete for research income.

“Working in collaboration with fellow research-intensive Universities will help us to succeed in research and tackle some of society’s biggest research challenges. Critical mass is the key to success and the combined research excellence of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter will give Cardiff - and Wales – a new and competitive edge that will place us at the forefront not only in the UK, but internationally.”

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “This is a vital development for ensuring the growth and development of world class research in the South West and Wales. It gives us the critical mass and the quality to succeed in an increasingly competitive and research-intensive environment. The four universities already have a strong tradition of working together and GW4 will take that collaboration to a new level.”