Wednesday 9 February 2022


A major partnership including the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS), has been awarded £3.4 million to create a Development Network with approximately 500 research and innovation leaders from across the UK. In addition to fellows recently appointed via the Future Leaders Fellowship (FLF) scheme – UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship interdisciplinary funding scheme – the network will include up to 200 further researchers and innovators nominated by the research councils.

Members of the network will have access to unique leadership training, mentoring, and engagement opportunities, designed to help them maximise the impact of their research and spearhead cutting-edge innovation. 

Alongside SAS, the partnership brings together specialists from organisations in the academic, commercial, and third sectors. These include Vertical Future, Cardiff University, Queen’s University Belfast, University College London, the University of Cambridge, University of Glasgow, University of Leeds, Vitae, and the Universities Policy Engagement Network.

This collaboration has grown out of the consortium of six universities running the first FLF Development Network, established in October 2020 to support 250 research and innovation leaders, including the first three rounds of FLFs

Network 2

The second phase of the FLF Development Network is for rounds 4-6 of UKRI’s Future Leaders Fellowship scheme and up to 200 additional research and innovation leaders nominated by the research councils. It will deliver novel training and development opportunities, catalyse knowledge exchange externally and internally, and promote collaboration building and networking opportunities to help fellows navigate the changing research and innovation landscape. The programme is funded for three years.

Professor Barry Smith (School of Advanced Study) together with Samantha Aspinall (head of interdisciplinary research, University of Leeds) will lead on interdisciplinarity and research and innovation across the network. Professor Smith is also leading on engagement and knowledge exchange.

‘The School of Advanced Study is delighted to be part of the second phase of UKRI’s FLF Development Network,’ said Professor Jo Fox, dean of SAS and pro-vice chancellor, University of London. ‘A central focus of the School is to facilitate interdisciplinary training that prepares the next generation of researchers. This new phase of the Development Network, with more than 500 Future Leaders Fellows, provides a genuinely exciting opportunity to change research culture and shape the future of research and innovation in the UK and beyond.”’

Exciting opportunities

The fellowships were created in 2018 to establish the careers of world-class research and innovation leaders across UK business and academia.

Welcoming the funding boost, Professor Barry C Smith, director of SAS’s Institute of Philosophy, said ‘The research landscape is changing and the Development Network will both help Future Leaders Fellows to navigate it successfully and provide them with the opportunities to advance UK research and innovation.’

Dr Sara Shinton, director, Future Leaders Fellows Development Network, and head of researcher development, said: ‘Our bid for the second phase of the network places fellows at the heart of our design and deliveries. We look forward to partnering with this exceptional community of research and innovation leaders over the next three years, as they engage with a vibrant range of outstanding training and engagement activities.’

Powerful network

The FLF Development Network 2 brings together partners spanning all four nations of the UK and all sectors of the research and innovation ecosystem. At its core is a partnership of eight universities which, collectively, host 25 per cent of all FLFs appointed so far. They are supported by a diversity of individuals and organisations to create a powerful network of research and innovation leaders.

In addition, the network will offer an internal Plus Funds scheme (£300,000), designed to catalyse and grow innovative ideas for collaborative working between fellows in the network.


Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact Professor Barry Smith (

Related links

UKRI - Future Leaders Fellowships

Institute for Academic Development