Business Impact School 2017

The second Valuing Nature Business Impact School will be held in London from Tuesday 7 to Thursday 9 March 2017.

The Valuing Nature Programme will run a three-day Business Impact School to provide early career researchers with an opportunity to gain insight into producing research with business impact.  

NERC has provided funding to offer fully-funded places (school, travel, accommodation, meals, field trip) for around 25 early stage researchers. 

The deadline applications has now passed, applicants will be informed by email whether they have been awarded a place. 

The first Business Impact School was held in March 2016 – the programme, report, and videos from speakers and attendees are available here.  The programme for the 2017 School will be available here soon, but will be broadly similar to the programme from 2016.

The importance of the impact agenda

The impact agenda is critical to contemporary research careers and an ability to design research with impact is vital for researchers to secure research funding. Research proposals to the UK Research Councils and the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme are required to address impact, and this is closely examined during the evaluation processes. Impact is also a key consideration in UK higher education funding to universities, and is assessed based on submissions including Impact Case Studies. An ability to deliver impact is therefore a key skill that universities and other research bodies look for when appointing and retaining researchers. The funder of the School, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) recognises the importance of demonstrating the impact of environmental science in terms of delivering economic and social benefit as a key indicator of success of delivery of the NERC strategy.

Valuing Nature and business impact

The Valuing Nature agenda is increasingly of interest to businesses. A failure to properly value nature can present significant risks to businesses, while valuing nature throughout a business and its value chain can present significant opportunities to enhance return on investment and reputation.

VNP is pursuing an active business engagement programme, with advice from a high level Business Interest Group (BIG). BIG outputs include a paper on Pathways to Impact with Business in relation to the VNP Health and Wellbeing Call.

Aim and programme

This NERC-funded, 3-day VNP Business Impact School aims to develop a Valuing Nature research community with a broader understanding of how research on valuing nature can be translated in to private sector decision making and innovation. Speakers will be drawn from the VNP Business Interest Group and other relevant businesses and business initiatives at the forefront of innovation related to valuing nature. Speakers at the 2016 School included Nestle, Intelligent Health, Interserve, National Grid, Nestle, Satellite Communications Catapult, United Utilities, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, Aldersgate Group, Willis Towers Watson and representatives from Aldersgate Group, Natural Capital Coalition as well as the Chair of the VNP Business Interest Group and the PI and Business Champion of the VN Programme Coordination Team. The 2017 programme will include similar speakers and will offer plenty of opportunity to interact with speakers. There will also be a ‘hands-on’ session run by eftec and Natural England on understanding the business need for evidence and communicating with business. 

Dates and venues

A welcome dinner will be held on the evening of Monday 6 March. The School days 1 and 2 will be hosted by Willis in the Board Room of the award-winning Norman Foster designed Willis Building in the City of London. Day 3 will involve a field visit (venue being finalized) to view relevant business innovation in practice. Successful applicants should plan to arrive in London on the late afternoon of Monday 6 March and depart London on the evening of Thursday 8 March.

Number of places and eligibility

The Valuing Nature Programme will offer fully-funded places (school, travel, accommodation, meals, field trip) for around 25 early stage researchers. To be eligible, applicants must be registered for a PhD at the closing date for applications (see below) or employed as a post-doc researcher and awarded a PhD on or after 1 January 2015. The School is open only to applicants registered or employed at UK universities or research bodies eligible for UK Research Council funding.

Schedule for applications and notification

The deadline for submission of applications is 09:00 GMT on Thursday 19 January.  Applications will be assessed in relation to: (1) relevance of current research to the School content; (2) motivation; (3) publication track record (assessed in relation to career stage). Consideration will be given to gender balance. The outcome of the assessment will be communicated, and invitations to successful applicants will be issued, by the end of January. Applicants should not book any travel prior to confirmation of a place at the School. Please also note that all accommodation and meals will be provided so applicants should not book separate accommodation in London.

Apply now 

For any queries about the Business Impact School or the Valuing Nature Programme, please contact

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