Connections between team members and exploring the concept of creativity at the BTG funded creativity retreat.

Bridging the Gaps

Bridging the Gaps (BTG) received £600,000 of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to fund and run projects from October 2010 to September 2013.

Key achievements of the project were:

  • Creating physical and virtual environments to promote the exchange of ideas and stimulate joint working.
  • Providing activities that built interdisciplinary links and created collaborations between the sciences, social sciences and humanities.
  • Funding 68 interdisciplinary projects involving 166 academics across our six colleges, with additional support for postgraduate research student-led activities.
  • Holding more than 80 events with a wide variety of topics and formats.

The Project was led by Prof David Butler, with assistance from an expert panel with members from across the University. It was overseen by a management board which included representatives from the Met Office and IBM.

The University will continue to support interdisciplinary collaboration through pump-priming funding and events. For more information please contact BTG Project Manager Dr Helen Butler.

Project outcomes

Two networks initiated with BTG funding continue to expand:


Some of the outcomes of BTG funded projects were:

  • A reduction in pain, distress, morbidity and mortality in children suffering burn injuries was achieved through a project BTG funded through a Bioengineering initiative (BioE) to investigate a sensor for sepsis biomarkers.
  • Restoration of a Victorian computing device for writing poetry, The Eureka Latin Verse Machine, was investigated and may lead to its restoration, conservation and exhibition.
  • The first workshop on the tree disease Phytophthora ramorum in the UK brought together more than 20 experts from all over the country to discuss how to tackle this threat to the UK’s trees; outputs should lead to better insight into how we control tree diseases and breed disease-resistant varieties.
  • The G360 project, initiated at our Climate Change and Sustainable Futures research retreat, brings an interdisciplinary perspective to assessing the options for geoengineering, with continued European funding.

    Developing an interdisciplinary strategy to drastically reduce UK carbon emissions through behaviour change also emerged from the Retreat, creating an on-going collaboration of relatively early career climate change researchers.
  • A pilot study using advanced imaging techniques investigated how disruptions to the brain’s blood supply may contribute to dementia.


BTG’s policy strand led to Dr Annette Plaut shadowing MP Ben Bradshaw. Annette gained insights into how policy decisions are made. For Ben it was an opportunity to experience research first hand. He said: “We need more scientists at the heart of policy making and more politicians who know about and understand the importance of science."

Prof John Bessant, led BTG’s Innovation Strand, which involved workshops exploring how research ideas can be translated into products, processes and services with economic, societal or environmental impact.

Independent evaluation

An independent evaluation of BTG produced a summary report and full report, which highlighted the project's lasting legacy in expanding people’s interdisciplinary networks and culture change.

Journal International Innovation published an article about the value of the BTG project.

Virtual environment

BTG created and encouraged the use of a virtual environment for funded researchers to work in.

It did this by:

  • Creating an Elgg network, which is still available for networking, collaboration and file sharing.
  • exploring the use of Second Life,
  • setting up a wiki, and
  • maintaining a blog.