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C-DICE – a year in the life of the UK’s biggest postdoctoral development programme!

C-DICE – a year in the life of the UK’s biggest postdoctoral development programme!

C-DICE comprises the eight universities of the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and Midlands Innovation partnership, together with a further 10 from the UKCRIC university group, as well as industry and other stakeholders.

Research England awarded £4 million for the four-year C-DICE programme, which is led by Loughborough University, in partnership with the Universities of Birmingham and Cranfield.

The industrial partners include Engie UK, the Building Research Environment (BRE) Trust, Manufacturing Technology Centre, HS2, Severn Trent Water and many more. These partners, together with others, have pledged a further £3.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions, making the programme the biggest investment in postdoctoral development in the UK.

The aim of C-DICE is to develop world-class postdoctoral researchers who have the advanced technical skills needed for the infrastructure, cities and energy sectors.

C-DICE is tackling two urgent challenges that are vital to the delivery of the UK’s Industrial Strategy and a prosperous and resilient UK. The first challenge is how to build the advanced skills required to create a pipeline of world-class talent for the Infrastructure, Cities and Energy sectors. The second concerns the most significant global issue that we face – how to accelerate progress towards a net zero-carbon society by 2050, the achievement of which demands a massive interdisciplinary research effort.

Over the last 12 months, C-DICE has provided a number of opportunities for Postdocs, including:

  • The launch of the Sandpit programme – where researchers work in multi-disciplinary teams to generate novel solutions to the net zero-carbon challenge, with a prize of £30,000 to the winning team.
  • The launch of the C-DICE Fellowships programme – offering a £140k salary and research costs package for researchers.
  • Industrial Secondments – where businesses offer paid secondments to postdoctoral researchers across a range of opportunities.
  • The introduction of Inkpath – an interactive app which tracks each activity that a postdoc undertakes, providing them with a complete record of their training and development.

C-DICE is also working hard to create a supportive environment for postdocs so that they can access these opportunities, which include the introduction of a Caring Support Fund for researchers with caring responsibilities, and also a No-Cost Extension which enables postdocs to undertake development opportunities such as a secondment, for up to a year, without it affecting their completion of their current research project.

C-DICE also ran its inaugural conference this year – ‘Net-Zero Futures’, in conjunction with ERA, which was a hybrid event held at the University of Birmingham, and also online. The conference provided a range of inspirational speakers and leading training specialists who ran developmental workshops for the researchers.

Looking ahead, C-DICE is also running a range of other development webinars for postdocs early in 2022, including an Engaging with Policymakers Workshop on 20th January, and an Innovation Workshop on 27th January. Next year will also see the launch of the Training Strand, offering bespoke training and development activities linked to the UKCRIC and ERA facilities.

Dr Kathryn North, Director of C-DICE said: “This has been a very eventful first year for C-DICE! We have launched a number of our postdoctoral development opportunities, including the Fellowship programme, our Sandpits and our Industrial Secondments. We also held our conference ‘Net-Zero Futures’ and have undertaken many other events and initiatives over the last 12 months. It has been fantastic to see Postdocs engaging and benefiting from the programme already, and we really appreciate the support of our partners.

“We’re very much looking forward to 2022 when we hope to engage with even more postdoctoral researchers from right across the ERA and UKCRIC partnerships.”

For more information about C-DICE, visit www.cdice.ac.uk

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