Transforming Our Professional Services


Research and Innovation Support Transformer

In order to sustain and advance our position as a world-leading, research-intensive university, it is fundamentally important that research and innovation support is delivered effectively.

The Research and Innovation Support Transformer (RIST) was created to transform the institutional support for research and innovation activities to ensure our support services provide an improved researcher experience and comply with internal and external regulations.

The aims of the RIST were to enable:

  1. High-quality end-to-end research and innovation support that adds value to the academic mission.
  2. Improved compliance with terms and conditions, policies and regulations.
  3. Professionalisation of, and investment in, research and innovation as a discipline and a career.

Our vision was to enable excellent research and innovation by providing efficient, effective and flexible advisory and administrative services.

Project approach

The RIST team worked with colleagues from across UCL and from both academic and professional services areas, to better understand complex issues, design solutions, and implement changes. 

The transformer has been managed in three distinct stages:

Discovery (June 2019 to October 2019)

The purpose of the discovery stage was to examine what works well, what doesn’t work well, and to identify the systemic issues that impact on researcher experience and compliance outcomes.

We worked with over 170 members of the UCL community to highlight key themes.

We have summarised the outputs of our discovery work in four Discovery reports and a set of problem statements on SharePoint.

Design (November 2019 to May 2020)

Between November and April 2020 the RIST team continued to work with colleagues across UCL to consider the learnings from the discovery stage and design a new operating model for Research and Innovation Support.

We developed several options for how UCL 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.

Delivery (June 2020 to December 2022)

The aim of the delivery stage was to implement the operating model, leading to improvements in researcher experience and compliance outcomes.

In June 2020 the vision and target operating model for research and innovation support services were approved along with a series of high-priority delivery activities.

    Key achievements

    RIST has worked closely with several teams across UCL to deliver a range of improvement projects including:

    • setting up the Research and Innovation Services (RIS) division and a new operating model to integrate research and innovation support at UCL;
    • developing the Research and Innovation Support Portal as a one-stop point of access for all research and innovation support and guidance;
    • transitioning the service and support of Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs)
    • improving coordination of research data management across Professional Services to better serve the research community seeking help with managing their data; 
    • designing and implementing the new innovation service which provides integrated support for innovation type projects (non-sponsored research);
    • developing a new Research and Innovation Compliance and Assurance capability, with much-enhanced partner and funder due diligence, and a new central source of guidance and support around key national security and other risks related to the Trusted Research Agenda to better meet the needs of the UCL community;
    • implementing a new RIS organisational design consisting of four portfolios: 1. Award Services, 2. Contract Services, 3. Planning, Insight and Improvement, and 4. Compliance and Assurance.

    More information

    Contact us

    If you have any feedback, suggestions or thoughts about any of our projects please get in touch.