Reflections on the October 2020 Management Board Meeting

Reflections on the October 2020 Management Board Meeting
UKCRIC Coordination Node Manager (University of Birmingham)
03 November 2020

The UKCRIC Management Board was excited to welcome Prof Gordon Masterton as UKCRIC’s new Deputy Convenor. Gordon, who will continue to lead UKCRIC’s transition planning subgroup, takes over following Prof Brian Collins’ retirement.

Since the last meeting, the Coordination Node has published the UKCRIC Prospectus on Infrastructure and Cities in a Covid-19 World. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to take a look. Outcomes from the Prospectus have been used to inform the UK House of Lords Committee on Covid-19 consultation: Life beyond Covid, and the Prospectus has garnered interest from the LEPs Group. Work is now underway to organise, in collaboration with CIRIA, a workshop that explores the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the UK’s construction sector. If you would like to express an interest in receiving an invitation to attend, please email the Coordination Node Manager, Joanne Leach. An article that expands upon the impacts of Covid on the UK’s transport sector is being drafted and the Coordination Node is in the early stages of commissioning a special issue of an academic journal. Look out for more information on all these activities in future newsletters.

UKCRIC continues to work closely with the National Infrastructure Commission, contributing a response to its consultation on the NIC discussion paper: Improving Competitiveness - a Discussion Paper on the Commission’s Objectives, and hosting a workshop and follow-up contributions to the NIC’s call for evidence on the link between infrastructure and the natural environment. UKCRIC also continues to contribute to national consultations and has just embarked upon a response to the BEIS enquiry into decarbonising heating in homes.

The impacts of the pandemic upon UKCRIC remain at the top of the Coordination Node’s risk register. The Business Continuity Plan reflects that face-to-face events are not viable for the foreseeable future. As such, there are now plans to restart the UKCRIC Roadshow and the All Hands events virtually, which will include training programmes and further development of UKCRIC’s four Missions. Please look out for invitations landing in your inbox in the near future.

The risk register also reflects the increasing risk of a break in funds, as many of the UKCRIC grants move towards the end of their current period of funding. Funding for a 12-month transition phase for the Coordination Node has been requested. This will provide the breathing room needed to advance the ultimate goal of creating a UKCRIC Institute. This vision dominates UKCRIC’s contribution to the EPSRC’s/UKRI’s Corporate Spending Review submission and is encapsulated in its report to the EPSRC’s Science, Engineering and Technology Board, which we hope to share in the near future. Extension requests from individual institutions and the Urban Observatories network have also been submitted to EPSRC and are awaiting responses.

The next UKCRIC Management Board progress meeting is scheduled for the 3rd of December. The next full Management Board meeting is scheduled for the 5th of January 2021.