Transforming Our Professional Services


Research and Innovation Support Transformer: What has happened and what to expect?

26 February 2020

Since October we've been considering what research and innovation support the UCL community will need in the future, collaborating on a series of improvement projects, recruiting Research Business Partners and developing training.

Photo of a student in a laboratory

We’ve changed the name of the Transformer

Formerly the Research Support Transformer, the project is now called the ‘Research and Innovation Support Transformer’. This new name more accurately reflects our aim to create, and deliver, a new vision for research and innovation support so we can provide an improved researcher experience and comply with internal and external regulations. Our overarching objectives are to:

  • Deliver high-quality end to end support for research and innovation activities that adds value to the academic mission.
  • Improve compliance with terms and conditions, policies and regulations.
  • Further professionalise, and invest in, research and innovation support as a discipline.

What have we done so far? 

During autumn 2019, we worked with over 170 academic and professional services colleagues from across the university to map the current user experience of research and innovation support, define problem statements and define the types of research and innovation activity that require support. You can read more about what we heard during this period in our October update.

Over winter 20192020, we developed high-level options for how we could deliver research and innovation support in the future to meet the needs of the UCL community, deliver a high-quality service and improve our compliance with terms and conditions, policies and regulations. 

With the oversight of the Research Operations Committee (ROC), we are continuing to work closely with a number of teams across UCL who are delivering improvement projects. Some recent progress updates include:

  • Colleagues from across UCL have been joining up and participating in the Pre-Award and Post-Award Communities of Practice. Please contact Daniela Bultoc if you’d like to get involved.
  • In October 2019, the reporting line for Research Contracts changed to a new Interim Director of Contracts (Dr. Sally Wilson), reporting to Fiona Ryland (Chief Operating Officer), to focus on improving contract completion rates and time. 
  • In January 2020, the first Research Business Partner commenced support for SLASH and IOE to provide coordination, support and continuity for complex research bids and projects. 
  • We supported the review of UCL’s due diligence arrangements and the design of the UCL due diligence framework. 

What changes might you see in the next couple of months? 

We are currently working to design the next level of detail for how we deliver research and innovation support in the future. We will be working with colleagues across the community to validate our plans and understand the options for delivery. We will be in touch to share more information on these plans during the third term of the academic year.

Some other changes you might hear about over the coming months include:

  • During February and March, Research Business Partners for BEAMS and SLMS should be appointed.
  • From Easter onwards, a newly developed online training course ‘Fundamentals of Research Funding Management’, developed by Research Services with TOPS support, will be rolled out to professional services staff that support research. The academic community is invited to undertake the module too.
  • By the end of March, we will also be working with colleagues to establish a Partnership Development Community of Practice for staff involved in the creation and development of partnership with non-academic external organisations.
  • During the spring we will be developing a UCL Career Framework to support and develop our research and innovation support staff.

More from the Research and Innovation Support Transformer