BIRMAC Project and Ideas Fund

The University of Birmingham and McMaster University are delighted to launch the 2024/25 BIRMAC Project and Ideas Fund.

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In October 2021 the University of Birmingham and McMaster University signed a formal agreement to create a framework for collaboration and partnership between the two institutions. McMaster University and the University of Birmingham have historic similarities, shared interests and recognise that to achieve exceptional research outcomes and the best possible student experience, constant nurture and support is necessary and cannot be done in isolation. 

To help support academic collaboration between our two globally-leading universities, we have established the Projects and Ideas Fund: a seed fund created with matching funding from each university designed to identify, establish and develop first-rate research projects and student outcomes.

Fund Overview

The fund’s objective is to support new initiatives by providing bridge funding between ideas and the first grant, or academic initiative. The funding is designed to enable individuals to identify complementary strengths, leverage synergy, and design new outstanding research and education projects and opportunities for academic excellence across all disciplines.

The funding will seed and enable the development of deep partnerships through joint initiatives, which for example could include (but is not limited to):

  • Intensive academic research and/or education workshops leading to future long-term collaborations.
  • Short-term visits for both young and established academics, or senior staff, enabling new and innovative long-term collaborations.
  • Research-oriented teaching opportunities, such as for instance the development of new experiential seminars, bringing together PhD Candidates and Post-Doctoral Fellows.

Application Process

Academics and professional services staff wishing to access funding must submit an application using the online BIRMAC Project and Ideas Fund Application Form

Applications open on 19 January 2024.

Full details can be found in the BIRMAC Project and Ideas Fund Application Guidance.

Applications close on 29 March 2024. The outcome of your application will be announced on or after 30 April 2024.

Should you wish to discuss the fund further please contact Lindsay Avery, Head of Global Engagement (North America and Australia) -

Previous BIRMAC Project and Ideas Fund projects 2022/23

 We have a wide range of colleagues who will be working on collaborative projects to investigate and address key questions across a number of academic areas. 

Professor Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Birmingham, commented: “we are proud to be working with colleagues at McMaster University.  At the heart of the BIRMAC Project and Ideas Fund lies our shared interests and a collective recognition that to achieve exceptional research outcomes and the best possible student experience, nurture and support is necessary and cannot be done in isolation."

The fund will help to drive forward a number of projects, and will help to strengthen the broader UoB-McMaster institutional relationship, as well as academic collaboration into the future. 

Dr Karen Mossman, McMaster’s Vice-President for Research stated: “the enthusiastic response to this first round of funding reflects McMaster’s and Birmingham’s shared vision to advance impactful research and strengthen the student experience. Congratulations to this first round of recipients on this well-deserved investment. This early-stage funding will plant the seeds for further collaborations that will address a diverse range of global challenges – including migration, aging, advanced materials, sustainability and entrepreneurship – and to advance knowledge, health and well-being in Canada and abroad.”

A Tale of Two Cities: Exploring parallel research and initiatives into age-friendly cities, communities, and universities

UoB PI: Professor Afroditi Stathi, Community Health Lead - Centre of Urban Wellbeing, School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

Professor Afroditi Stathi is an expert in the field of the promotion of active and healthy ageing. She leads a portfolio of international, interdisciplinary research which investigates ways of supporting older people achieving meaningful and lasting lifestyle changes and living healthier and fulfilling lives.

McMaster PI: Audrey Patocs, Research Manager, McMaster Institute for Research on Aging

Audrey Patocs’ research has focused on analyzing and modelling the spread of infectious diseases and associated beliefs, behaviours and outcomes. In her current role at MIRA, she works to foster and maintain multi-disciplinary research partnerships, develop and administer internal funding programs, identify funding and mobilize researchers around those opportunities, and help foster research that both involves and benefits older adults.

BIRMAC Quantum Materials Collaboration

UoB PI: Dr Lucy Clark, Associate Professor in Materials Chemistry, School of Chemistry

Dr Clark leads an interdisciplinary group of researchers dedicated to the discovery and exploration of new and exotic states of matter in solid-state materials. The group aims to design and synthesise novel quantum materials in the chemistry laboratory and employs a variety of characterisation tools to unravel their fascinating behaviour. In particular, the group works closely with central facilities for neutron scattering and muon spectroscopy in the UK and internationally

McMaster PI: Bruce Gaulin, Professor, Physics & Astronomy

Bruce Gaulin is a Distinguished University Professor and Brockhouse Chair in the Physics of Materials at McMaster University. He and his group of students and postdocs carry out neutron scattering experiments on new quantum materials at neutron laboratories around the world. His group works to shed light on the exotic properties of new materials. 

Digital Authoritarianism in Comparative Perspective

UoB PI: Professor Jonathan FisherProfessor of Global Security International Development Department

Jonathan's research focuses on the relationship between authoritarianism and (in)security across multiple levels – global, regional, domestic, and “the everyday”. He has a particular interest in the role of ideas and legitimacy in authoritarian systems and spaces, and has worked extensively in eastern Africa, where he has focused on the influence of guerrilla heritage on contemporary patterns of governance, conflict and cooperation.

McMaster PI: Netina TanAssociate Professor, Political Science

Netina Tan’s research focuses on authoritarian resilience and the political representation of women and ethnic minorities in Asia and globally. Dr. Tan is the co-founder of McMaster’s Asian Research Working Group and Digital Democracy Research Hub, designed to advance research on Asia and the impact of digital technology on democratic practices.

Examining the Intersection(s) of forced migration and Gender Based Violence: Global Perspectives – Local Designs

UoB PI: Dr Lisa Goodson, Lecturer, Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology

Lisa Goodson is a lecturer in the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology where she co-ordinates social policy research modules at post graduate level as well as teaching and tutoring on undergraduate modules in new migration. Lisa has been at the forefront of research exploring the experiences and consequences of migration in the UK and Europe. Common themes that cut across her research and teaching on migration issues include: integration and cohesion, poverty and social exclusion, gender and health, and approaches to welfare provision for migrants in an age of super-diversity.

McMaster PI: Mirna CarranzaProfessor, Social Work

Mirna Carranza’s research interests include immigrant and refugee families and their process of acculturation as family units. Her Canadian research includes issues of grief, ambiguous losses, war and torture, identity processes, transnational relationships and their impact on parenting practices, successful settlement processes and mental health. Her international research focuses on social justice issues, particularly on forced migration, gender violence, children's and women's rights in Central America.

Entrepreneurship support for Ukrainian Refugees

UoB PI: Samuel AdomakoAssociate Professor Department of Strategy and International Business

Dr Samuel Adomako is an Associate Professor of Strategy at the Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, UK. Prior to joining the University of Birmingham, he held teaching and research positions in King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia and the University of Bradford, UK. His research centres on the cognitive processes supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy.

McMaster PI: Benson HonigProfessor, Human Resources and Management

Benson Honig is the Teresa Cascioli Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership at McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business. Studying entrepreneurship worldwide, his research interests include business planning, nascent entrepreneurship, transnational entrepreneurship, ethics in scholarship, social entrepreneurship, social capital, and entrepreneurship in environments of transition.

Establishing an International Research Team for Applied Social Cognition

UoB PI: Geoffrey Bird and Professor Jennifer Cook, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, School of Psychology

Professor Cook’s work investigates action and social cognition in typically developed adults and those with autism spectrum conditions. With respect to action Professor Cook and her colleagues have shown that autistic adults move with subtly different kinematics compared to typical controls. With respect to social cognition Jennifer and her colleagues have demonstrated considerable individual differences in social learning in the typical population and have shown that such individual differences are related to personality traits such as dominance. Jennifer's future work seeks to investigate the overlap between action, social cognition and neuromodulators in both in the typical population and in people with autism.

McMaster PI: Sukhvinder Obhi, Professor, Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour

Sukhvinder Obhi is Director of the Social Brain, Body and Action Lab and the Neurosociety Lab at McMaster University. His research focuses on the neural and cognitive bases of social behaviour, with an emphasis on power, status, agency and volition. He also conducts research on various issues related to social diversity, many of which are pertinent to the professional domains of inclusive leadership and diversity and inclusion.

Exploring the potential for collaborative work in urban sustainability

UoB PI: Dr Phil JonesSenior Lecturer in Cultural Geography, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

 Dr Phil Jones is a cultural geographer who focuses on issues related to the city. His work deals with a number of research areas including urban regeneration, cycling and the arts. He has a particular interest in research methods, including qualitative GIS, mobile interviewing and arts-based approaches.

McMaster PI: Bruce NewboldDirector and Professor, School of Earth, Environment & Society

Bruce Newbold’s research interests focus on population issues as they relate to immigration, migration, health, and aging. His recent research has focused on the role of migration in the development and transfer of human capital and income across space, commuting and sustainability questions, the income benefits associated with migration, immigrant health, and immigrant settlement processes.

New methods for understanding perceptual development and multisensory processes in human infancy

UoB PI: Professor Andrew BremnerProfessor of Developmental Psychology and Head of Education, School of Psychology

Professor Andy Bremner is a developmental psychologist with expertise in multisensory perceptual development and the development of touch perception. He has particularly focused on examining how infants come to perceive their own bodies and their relation to the external world around them.

McMaster PI: Gabriel (Naiqi) Xiao, Assistant Professor, Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour

Gabriel (Naiqi) Xiao is studying how infants’ cognitive capacities are shaped by what they see and hear in their everyday lives. His research is aimed at understanding the mechanisms that drive development to help detect atypical development at early stages of life. 

Reimagining the Role of International Financial Institutions in Gender and Development

UoB PI: Professor Kate Bedford, Professor of Law and Political Economy, Birmingham Law School

Kate is an interdisciplinary scholar, with a background in law and political economy, development, and gender/sexuality studies. She joined Birmingham Law School in 2018. 

McMaster PI: Judith Fudge, Professor, Labour Studies

Judith Fudge takes a socio-legal approach to studying work and labour and is committed to fostering a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the challenges and opportunities facing workers. She has worked with women's groups, legal clinics, trade unions and the International Labour Organization. Her most recent work focuses on labour exploitation, modern slavery and unfree labour in the context of labour migration.