Building Communities


Building communities and networks of research and innovation had been identified through preliminary work as being a key factor in improving research at the University and this had been the underlying theme of the project. How was this to be achieved?


A number of events and activities around different themes were organised. The project demonstrated in a number of cases that almost exclusively through its influence successful communities were engendered, as in the case of a community around the theme of waste. An event at the University on this theme organised by the project attracted 70 people and was able to bring together key stakeholders from business and the community, for detailed discussions with researchers at the University on the steps to develop and fund projects in this area. An active group now exists in this area and has met several times.

The project was able to use some of the tools it had developed to bring together researchers from a number of different disciplinary areas for this and the social networking system, CircuitNet it had developed helped to support discussions and information sharing for the group. These are discussed in Tools and Services to Support Communities.

On the other hand, examples like this were relatively rare. However, through its work the project felt that it did make a real impact but also came to an understanding that perhaps a different and more realistic perspective on how communities of research and innovation would be built was required. Any University and its partners comprise large number of formal and informal groups of researchers and researchers using a huge variety of different processes, techniques and technologies. The project was able to impact in one way or another on a significant proportion of this work and though a large amount of work still needs to be done, has solutions, demonstrators and exemplars which it can provide for many of the requests for help on different aspects of collaborative working and community building. General conclusions regarding building communities as part of VREs is also discussed in Virtual Research Environments and Research 2.0.