SETsquared Blog

From researcher to innovator…and back again

I love my job. I do. Each day I go into the office and respecting proven time-honoured traditions, I try to answer questions that can change the world…or just one life.     

And right now is an exciting time to be a researcher.

Universities are opening up, creating new and dynamic relationships with government, the public, industry and funders so that we can make the most out of the knowledge created at universities. Convention and innovation are mixing – and researchers are sitting at the confluence.

Sitting at the heart of seemingly incompatible change can be thrilling…and intimidating. Having an understanding of the existing ecosystem, the interests and structures of the different actors at work and emerging ways of cooperating within the system can go a long way in facilitating change.   

SETsquared’s Researcher to Innovator programme (R2I), with the apt strapline ‘Researcher Accelerator Programme’, gave me the knowledge, skills and confidence to act in this evolving space. It gave me the opportunity to confront and redefine my identity as a researcher and the role(s) I can potentially play in a world where integration and collaboration with very diverse groups is likely to yield the most benefits for the most people.

Out of R2I I’ve gained the confidence to be okay with uncertainty. To move with it and learn from it; to turn it into experience to shape the future. To not be demotivated by it.

I’ve learned that rarely are there any straight answers to how we can work together. Answers come from the context and new kinds of relationships have to be fashioned to match emerging needs.

Researchers with different needs will likely take very different things from the R2I programme.

Some of us will go back into the labs with a deeper understanding of the research process and with advanced tools to increase impact. Others will be looking to commercialise their knowledge so that research outputs can reach the people they were designed for and be sustained in the longer term. Others will probably apply what we’ve learnt to social enterprise or to forging more engaging, varied and collaborative relationships with funders, policymakers, the public and industry – where SETsquared has particular expertise.

Different projects will call for different ways of working, different kinds of relationships, and it is likely that we will engage in all of these to some extent throughout our career.

Researcher to innovator transformed the way I see the whole research ecosystem and the role I can potentially play within it. There are so many roles and possible relationships that I didn't even think about before this programme.

Out of the programme I find myself challenging my own perceptions about my role and identity as a researcher and what I can contribute to my organisation and to society. I feel ready to be more creative in my approach.

For me, I've not just grown from a researcher to an innovator; I've transitioned into a more modern, versatile researcher-innovator.

The next R2I Programme is open for applications until 8th May, find out more.