Overview and Objectives

In 2007, NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) ran the first of a new style of collaboration-innovation programme for early/mid-career researchers: Crucible.

The Crucible Programme takes 30 junior academics and works with them through three, intensive, 2-3 day residential development workshops, called ‘Labs’. The Labs combine skills enhancement, lectures, group exercises, self-examination and field trips. They are all designed to introduce new ways of thinking and working to participants, in the hope of creating long-term changes in attitude and working practice as well as practical collaborations between participants. Overall, the Labs are about creating the environment for the development of innovative individuals, and allowing them to develop their ideas, particularly in collaboration with others and across disciplines. They are also about developing a network of peers within the research community to fuel potential interdisciplinary working, learn about different areas of research and encourage personal and career development.

Since 2007, 90 researchers have taken part in UK-wide Crucible programmes. A further 30 participated in the Carbon Crucible in 2008-9, focusing on researchers in low-carbon energy research in industry and academia (co-organised by UKERC and NESTA and sponsored by the TSB and RCUK energy programme). A collaboration between the Scottish Universities and the Scottish Funding Council in 2009 provided an opportunity for an additional 30 researchers to participate in a Scottish Crucible.

NESTA has now completed its piloting of the programme and will cease to run a national programme. Through this resource and other activities NESTA hopes to encourage other institutions or groups of institutions to take up the model for their own researchers. The Scottish national programme will continue from 2010–2012 and it is hoped that a Welsh programme will be launched in the second half of 2010.

The downloadable document is a copy of this overview and a summary of the objectives of the Crucible Programme, which can be used as a reference in explaining the background to the programme.