Balancing Capability – the process

In October 2014 the EPSRC Council reaffirmed its commitment to our Strategic Plan which included renaming Shaping Capability to Balancing Capability, to more accurately reflect the aspirations of our strategy. The goal remains to align our portfolio to areas of UK strength and national importance and maintain the UK’s strength in international research.

One aspect of delivering the Balancing Capability strategy is through individual research areas. The research areas are the ‘building blocks’ of our portfolio which we fund, and each area has its own strategy articulated within its rationale. The research areas each have a trajectory to ‘grow’, ‘maintain’ or ‘reduce’ as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio. Research areas do not have budgets set against them; they provide an indication of the general direction of funding for this specific area in relation to the whole portfolio at this point in time.

  • Grow: The research areas’ share of the whole EPSRC portfolio is projected to increase. This may be via appropriate strategic interventions and/or community-led activity.
  • Maintain: Active monitoring and intervention may be necessary. In many instances how the research area is focused may need to change, but not the share of the portfolio.
  • Reduce: Research areas where there is scope to reduce the share of the portfolio without adversely impacting upon the achievement of the vision and goals overall. This includes a strategy for change in the rationale that encourages excellence.  

In September 2015 we commenced  a refresh exercise to ensure that our research area strategies support our future aspirations into the next delivery plan period of 2016-2020, through investing in research, discovery and innovation; delivering prosperity for the UK.

Our overall approach to Balancing Capability has been to use the lessons learned from the Shaping Capability project and improve our evidence gathering processes, engagement activities and clarify the roles of our advice streams. This included a significant Call for Evidence from stakeholders including industry, academic communities, learned societies, other research organisations and funders. Through this exercise we received over 1000 individual pieces of evidence relating to our research areas and themes. This evidence was analysed and used to develop the strategies of each research area, in conjunction with engagement activities and interaction with strategic advisory teams that each EPSRC theme achieved.

You will find more information about the individual themes' approaches at the following locations: