UCL Grand Challenges


UCL Grand Challenges at the Festival of Early-Stage Researchers (FESR) 2024

13 May 2024

This session invited UCL Grand Challenges and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Initiative to Day 1 of FESR 2024: Building Blocks for Collaboration. A summary of the session can be found below.

Two people giving a high-five with festival of early stage researchers promotion logo

The annual Festival of Early Stage Researchers (FESR) celebrates the invaluable contribution UCL’s early stage researcher community makes towards research and innovation.

During the Festival of Early Stage Researchers (FESR) 2024's session "Building Blocks for Collaboration", Ethne James-Souch (Grand Challenges Coordinator) and Simon Knowles (SDGI Head of Coordination) presented the work of UCL Grand Challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Initiative, defining how interdisciplinary collaboration fits into the wider UCL picture.  

Using the highly creative method of Lego Serious Play, attendees had an opportunity to create and show their idealistic view of effective environments for cross-disciplinary collaborations. The activity aimed to raise awareness of the current opportunities and challenges in forming and maintaining a collaborative community. 

Attendees were encouraged to foster inclusivity and appreciate the diverse perspectives within interdisciplinary teams, establishing effective collaboration practices for continued impact beyond the workshop. 

Following the use of Lego Serious Play, the group highlighted the strengths and challenges of leveraging a successful collaborative community at UCL and worked towards building practical solutions to overcome the challenges. 

UCL Grand Challenges believe that solutions to the greatest challenges rarely come from one field alone. Therefore, a large part of our work involves bringing researchers from diverse disciplines together with colleagues who possess knowledge outside their areas of expertise to test new ideas, build partnerships, and collaborate. Collaborations are encouraged from within UCL and with external organisations - including charities, industry, third sector organisations and local authorities. Alongside running our own Grand Challenge-led initiatives, we award seed corn grants to UCL researchers and doctoral students, fund strategic projects, organise and support events, and provide a platform for innovative, disruptive thinking.

 UCL Grand Challenges has many live opportunities encouraging cross-disciplinary work through knowledge exchange events and funding opportunities.