Helping to shape an actively inclusive culture within the EPS research and innovation community in the North of England

The Northern Power project was funded by the EPSRC under its Inclusion Matters initiative to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within Engineering and the Physical Sciences (EPS). The project was aimed at supporting early career researchers from traditionally under-represented groups (e.g. gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability). 


  • Develop a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by groups under-represented in EPS across our consortium and beyond
  • Share this understanding with universities, industry, research councils, and policy makers
  • Present cross-institutional networking, mentoring and discipline-related opportunities within our consortium and beyond
  • Establish and share best practice with regard to developing inclusive EPS communities across academia and industry.

To meet the objectives, the project included the following Work Packages:

Work Package 1: Shared-Characteristic Mentoring
(led by the University of Leeds)

A cross-institutional mentoring scheme that partnered ECRs from under-represented staff groups, with more senior individuals who had similar identities, experiences or interests. This mentoring scheme highlighted role models in leadership positions who were from under-represented groups. 

Work Package 2: Reciprocal Mentoring
(led by Durham University)

A reciprocal mentoring programme which involved staff from under-represented groups within EPS mentoring senior staff about the specific challenges they face. Leaders play a significant role in cultural change, and hearing the views and opinions of those with different characteristics helped to create a more inclusive working environment. 

Work Package 3: Online Platform
(led by the University of Leeds)

The online platform supported the activities in the project, including training, communication and networking. The platform provided an informal space for advice and support, as well as allowing the sharing of best practices and experiences. It also provided space to highlight cross-institutional research-focused opportunities.

Work Package 4: Networking and Leadership Development
(led by Newcastle University)

This activity was aimed at establishing leadership opportunities across different institutions. Personal Development Plans were developed with participants and used to identify appropriate networking and development opportunities. Leadership training was also hosted by Newcastle University to introduce ECRs to skills for leadership. 

Work Package 5: Collaboration with Industry
(led by Northumbria University)

This activity allowed industry partners and participants to explore EDI issues and to share best practice relevant to the EPS community. A range of workshops and shadowing opportunities took place to allow academic staff who consider themselves members of under-represented groups to develop their knowledge of industry and to explore opportunities for research collaboration. 

Work Package 6: Research Programme
(led by Durham University and Northumbria University)

The project was evaluated to understand the ways in which participants engaged with the various initiatives on offer and the impact these can have on people and institutions. Data was collected through surveys, focus groups, and interviews to establish how participants engaged with the different elements of the project and to identify any changes to attitudes and practice.