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Research and Innovation Strategy - our vision

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Chairs in a lecture theatre in the University of Sunderland in London

Create sector-leading, applied research

Our research gives creative solutions to the issues facing our world. We work closely with business, industry, the public sector, third sector, policy-makers, cultural organisations and communities to make sure we're making an impact. Our research is adaptive, agile enough to respond to the demands of a changing world and always focuses on areas of need.

We will:

  • Support high-quality research, recognised as internationally excellent or world-leading, and encourage research with the possibility to succeed at these levels.
  • Build research partnerships with our business and industry networks and through the government, the public sector and in academia; regionally, across the UK and internationally.
  • Find ways of impacting research in all areas, including business innovation, knowledge transfer, policy development, continuing professional development and academic teaching, with an effective system for recording and evaluating impact.
  • Make sure equality and diversity is a major part of all aspects of our research practice, support and recognition, measured against benchmarks including Athena SWAN.

Develop centres of innovation, excellence and collaboration

The University is leading the way in high-quality research by creating centres of excellence in our six areas of academic strength. We're meeting and going beyond the Research Excellence Framework units of assessment. Our long-term, interdisciplinary research is designed to have an impact on society. We're identifying and developing connections across research questions, methodologies and practices.

We will: 

  • Create Research Institutes to take the lead in bringing together faculty research and innovation, developing distinct research themes and working closely with our partners in academic, business and the public sector.
  • Invest strategically to create sector-leading research across all six of our areas of academic strength.
  • Strengthen and widen our current research, and develop new area of research, with a focus on impact through a collaborative approach.

Provide a research-led curriculum for active learning

Our research and professional practice will affect all levels of teaching, making sure our taught courses are both relevant and competitive. We will make sure that all students understand the research and professional practice of our staff and benefit from use of that research as a model for their own learning.

We will:

  • Create opportunities for all students to participate in activities related to the research our academics are carrying out.
  • Offer methods of learning and assessment that look at the ways research is done, how research questions are created, and the methods behind academic thought.
  • Linking out research strengths with our taught postgraduate programmes, improving our taught postgraduate offer and focusing on career progression for our graduates.

Promote a dynamic research environment, reaching out to our external partners and audiences

We will celebrate our research through an engaging media presence and through growing our connections with organisations, academic networks and the public. We will hos research-led events that have an international impact, giving staff and students the chance to present and debate in an inclusive environment.


We will:

  • showcase and celebrate our research institutes, networks, students and staff through symposia, the press, social media and the web including our institutional research repository SURE
  • engage in research collaborations with international partners through staff mobility and exchange schemes, linked to postgraduate research portfolio and the activities of our transnational education partners where possible
  • continue to promote our dynamic research environment, with international conferences and events, increased numbers of postgraduate research students, and by developing our network of fellows and visiting professors
  • provide excellent resources and support for postgraduate research students, creating opportunities for collaboration, networking and sharing work in appropriate external forums



Drive entrepreneurial, commercial and income-generating activity

Our long-term plan for strategic investment lets us grow on our areas of strength, offer Unique Selling Points (USPs), respond to needs in society and address wider economic and cultural opportunities. Our Directorate for Enterprise and Innovation will provide expert guidance and support that maximises opportunities for externally-funded research, innovation and knowledge exchange.

We will:

  • Make sure our research is in line with external funding agencies and commerce so that we make a return on the investment of staff and research time, internal funding and Research Office support.
  • Take advantage of the connections between the publication and distribution of research and opportunities for commercial activity through licencing of intellectual property.
  • Develop areas of knowledge exchange as well as commercial and consultation activities, through staff appraisals, workload planning and Enterprise and Innovation support.
  • Promote the research of our postgraduate students through connections with business, industry and the public sector.

Develop and nurture our academic staff

We will create a dedicated research support programme and make sure that there is an effective use of research time which is supported by internal and external funding. This will help us to develop a dynamic culture of research throughout the University of Sunderland in London and our campuses in Sunderland. We will encourage academic staff at all levels to undertake ambitious, innovative and rigorous research.

We will:

  • actively manage and support all individual research and innovation activities through an annual planning process related to allocated research time
  • develop our early career academic staff and researchers through a mentoring and support scheme, increasing research output, funding applications and PGR completions 
  • build the research profile of our subject areas, recruiting academic staff with a track-record of excellent research and recognising success through regular and transparent promotion opportunities
  • provide opportunities for staff to pursue research degree programmes