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Independent review of SFC’s research pooling initiative

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The Scottish Funding Council announced an independent review of the Scottish research pooling initiative in November 2018.

The review, chaired by Professor Heathwaite from Lancaster University, reported to SFC’s Board in September 2019. The review was supported by an Advisory Panel and quantitative analysis by Dr Kirsty Collinge from the University of Edinburgh.

The review was high level and summative, focussing on the delivery of the original vision of the research pooling initiative and the impact this has had on the Scottish research environment. A select committee style approach was used to ensure transparency of the review and the credibility of its recommendations.

The review aimed to:

  • Establish the impact of the research pooling initiative to date.
  • Consider the types of investment which worked well and why.
  • Consider the changing research landscape and how the research pooling programme sits within that environment.
  • Identify lessons for SFC’s future investments in research.

Full details of the review can be viewed in the Terms of reference [PDF] and in the report and evidence below.

The review

Independent Review of the Scottish Funding Council’s Research Pooling Initiative [PDF]
Appendix 1 – Summary of written evidence
Appendix 2 – Summary of Oral Evidence
Appendix 3 – Quantitative evidence [PDF]


Review Process

Research Pooling summaries


Written Evidence

Transcriptions of the Oral Evidence received by the Advisory Panel will be available in due course.
Note – Should they be required, audio files can be requested by emailing:

Responses to targeted questions [PDF]

A meeting was hosted in the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 5 August 2019, chaired by Dr Rebekah Widdowfield, to act as ‘critical sounding board’ ahead of final reporting to SFC Board on 5 September 2019.

Advisory Panel Membership

Membership at the time of the review:

Dr Cat Ball
Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).

Dr Alicia Greated
CEO of Knowledge Transfer Network Ltd, member of SFC’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee (RKEC).

Douglas Mundie
SFC Board and SFC Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee member.

Professor Philip Nelson
Professor of Acoustics, University of Southampton, formerly Executive Chair, EPSRC.

Dr John Rees
Director of Science for Earth Hazards, Observatories, British Geological Society and GCRF Challenge Leader, UKRI.

David Sweeney
Executive Chair, Research England, UK Research and Innovation.

Professor James Wilsdon
Professor of Research Policy and Director of Research and Innovation, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Sheffield.

Research Pools

View all Research pools

SFC Strategic Plan 2022-27

Building a connected, agile, sustainable tertiary education and research system for Scotland.

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