Our approach

Theme strategy in relation to Balancing Capability

The EPSRC Mathematical Sciences Theme has been working with its advisory team, stakeholders in academia, industry and the third sector to ensure we deliver a balanced strategy, which connects the wider mathematical sciences research community with the Outcomes of our Delivery Plan. Engagement activities and analysis of the evidence within research areas has led to the development of key priorities for the theme’s strategic focus, which are:

  • Increasing connectedness within the mathematical sciences community by encouraging and supporting interdisciplinary working
  • Supporting and encouraging the development process from fundamental research to user engagement
  • Focusing on people and skills, particularly at the early career level

Key engagement activities

Following on from the International Review of Mathematical Sciences 2010 we produced a series of updated Community Overview Documents which provided an insight into the research and training landscape of the mathematical sciences research areas.

Throughout the Balancing Capability project we have engaged regularly with the Mathematical Sciences Strategic Advisory Team (SAT) to ensure the outputs of our various engagement activities are reflected in the strategic focus of each mathematical sciences research area. The SAT also provided input into other research area rationales that are of strong relevance to the mathematical sciences. Engagement across disciplines was particularly important during the development of the rationales for the two new research areas of relevance to mathematical sciences, (created following a review of the EPSRC taxonomy): Operational Research and Mathematical Biology.

The following events were held in late 2015 and 2016 to provide engagement opportunities and ensure feedback was obtained from the community regarding the theme’s strategic vision for the future:

  • Operational Research Theme Day. OR is a new area encompassing research to develop and apply advanced analytical methods to support improved decision making. This event was held in conjunction with the OR society and brought together delegates from a range of academic and industrial disciplines, including mathematical sciences, manufacturing, information and communication technologies and engineering. Drawing on recommendations from the day, the rationale was established in consultation with strategic advisory teams from across EPSRC’s remit.
  • Pure Mathematics Community Evidence and Engagement Workshop
  • Applied Mathematics Community Evidence and Engagement Workshop. This event was particularly instrumental in developing the strategy for Mathematical Biology, a new research area which collates EPSRC’s existing portfolio of mathematical sciences research relevant to the biological sciences. This research area strategy was also developed with the Mathematical Biology and Medicine Community Overview Document and in addition advice was sought from other relevant funders in the area (including BBSRC, MRC, and the EPSRC Healthcare Technologies SAT).
  • Mathematical Physics Evidence and Engagement Workshop
  • Statistics and Applied Probability Landscape Event (report to be published). Recognising that Statistics and Applied Probability play a crucial role in driving research and discovery across disciplines, this event was held to establish links between research and user communities across all research councils and create a common vision for the future.
  • Balancing Capability workshops in Glasgow, Manchester and London

EPSRC will hold a review of Complexity Science in 2017, a research area which has contributed greatly to a new culture of interdisciplinary working that is paramount for achieving breakthroughs in complex real world problems. The review will consider the achievements of Complexity Science and how to best support research that looks at whole systems and its interconnections in a changing environment.

Key evidence sources

In addition to engagement activities, we have been informed by a range of evidence identified by ourselves and/or highlighted via the ‘Call for Evidence’ activity, which the mathematical sciences community contributed to. The evidence highlighted the importance of the mathematical sciences as an enabler of future progress, as evidenced for example by the contributions of mathematics and statistics to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Together with other key documents, these informed the development of the strategic vision for the mathematical sciences research areas. The key evidence sources included:

The above list is not exhaustive; see the individual research area rationales for further evidence sources and the Balancing Capability ‘Call for Evidence’ for further information.