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Sandpits

What is a sandpit?

Sandpits are defined by UKRI as having “a highly multidisciplinary mix of participants, some active researchers and others potential users of research outcomes, to drive lateral thinking and radical approaches to address research challenges”. They are a means to develop novel interdisciplinary research

What is a C-DICE sandpit?

A C-DICE sandpit is exclusively available to postdoctoral researchers to win up to £30k in seed-corn funding

A C-DICE sandpit is a unique opportunity for teams of exclusively postdoctoral researchers to develop a collaborative research idea to win seedcorn funding.

The C-DICE sandpit is an exciting new way of solving real-world problems and developing research ideas and solutions. The C-DICE sandpit creates networks of exclusively postdoctoral researchers to generate collaborative research ideas that can be further developed via seedcorn funding. Awards of up to £30K are available for each sandpit. The C-DICE sandpit also provides a unique opportunity for postdoctoral researchers to acquire multidisciplinary and cross-sector skills and expertise; learn how to shape a tractable, fundable research project; work collaboratively, and write and develop a funding proposal.

C-DICE will be running at least 8 individual sandpits with themes around infrastructure, cities, energy, and net zero. The sandpit sessions will be held virtually with a single in-person day at Loughborough University; time commitment will be 4 x half days (online) and 1 x full day (in-person).

The complete C-DICE sandpit objectives.

What sandpits are currently available?

Applications are currently open for the sandpit run in collaboration with the Net-Zero Infrastructure Industry Coalition in September and October 2022. The sandpit topic is Considering options and solutions to help understand the systems and interactions in the built environment that help determine the optimal path for carbon reduction.

More details about the topic and the application process are available here. Application closing date: Wednesday 20 July 2022, 5pm.

If this opportunity is not relevant to you, do join our mailing list (in the footer) or register on Inkpath to be kept up to date with the next sandpits.

Industry/academics who would like to get involved

Do you have an interesting research problem that could be investigated by the best of the UK’s research talent? Is there an issue that you don’t have the capacity to investigate but could unlock an industrial problem?

The C-DICE sandpit is proving to be a novel and exciting new way of solving problems and developing research ideas and solutions. The C-DICE sandpit creates networks of postdoctoral researchers to solve real-world problems in a unique and interdisciplinary way.

C-DICE are currently seeking industrial collaborators with research problems for forthcoming sandpits in 2023 and 2024. If you have an idea for a sandpit, contact us for further information on how to get involved.

There are also opportunities for academics and project leaders to join in the C-DICE sandpits as mentors, stakeholders and peer reviewers. Contact us if you would like to find out more.

Sandpit objectives

The broad aims of the sandpit are to allow researchers to develop interdisciplinary, creative and innovative solutions to the problem, to develop (in teams) a proposal for using the seedcorn funding which can form new collaborations, propose topics, deliver a plan, a final product and a plan for future direction e.g. £30k to leverage £1m, create new and innovative research ideas in infrastructure, cities and energy research challenges. The sandpits will provide postdoctoral researchers with the experience of developing and pitching an interdisciplinary funding application, and the opportunity to reflect on the skills developed in that process.

The objectives of the C-DICE sandpit are to:

  • Enable researchers to develop interdisciplinary, creative and innovative solutions to a problem.
  • Develop in teams a proposal for using the seedcorn funding.
  • Propose topics, deliver plans and/or a final product, and plan for future direction.
  • Provide developmental opportunities for postdoctoral researchers whilst addressing ‘real-world’ problems and leading to ‘real-world’ outcomes.
  • Benefit from peer-review to develop the quality of the projects.
  • Develop participants’ research skills, in particular project development, collaboration and applying for funding.
Online meeting on laptop

Previous sandpit topics

Sandpit 1 (November 2021): Maximising progress towards Net-Zero in cities and infrastructure industries while promoting convergence to a circular economy.

This sandpit focused on Net-Zero solutions that are compatible with promoting circular economy convergence. 

Sandpit 2 (December 2021): Unlocking user power and behaviour to promote and enable systematic transformation towards a Net-Zero future.

This sandpit explored approaches to promoting user-driven adoption of Net-Zero solutions or changes in user behaviour instrumental to achieving Net-Zero targets.

Sandpit 3 (May 2022): Developing efficient and commercially viable short, medium and long term energy storage solutions that can be deployed widely and address the intermittency challenges of a fully integrated zero-carbon energy system.

This sandpit focused on critical issues related to developing and successfully deploying the energy storage technologies that are essential to enabling the transition to a zero-carbon energy system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Energy Storage Sandpit participants

Guidance to accompany the C-DICE Energy Storage Sandpit Seedcorn Pathway Funding Call Word document is available here.