The Centre for Postdoctoral Development in Infrastructure, Cities & Energy

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C-DICE brings together a partnership of 18 higher education institutes and numerous industrial companies.

Building world-class skills for a net-zero society

The Centre for Postdoctoral Development in Infrastructure, Cities and Energy (C-DICE) programme tackles two distinct but interrelated urgent challenges that are central to the delivery of the UK’s Industrial Strategy (IS), and a prosperous and resilient UK more generally, and which demand a collaborative model for Research Development and Innovation.

1. How we build and sustain the advanced skills base required to create a pipeline of world-class talent for the Infrastructure, Cities and Energy (IC&E) sectors. 

2. How to accelerate progress towards a net-zero society by 2050.

Led by Loughborough University in partnership with the Universities of Birmingham and Cranfield, C-DICE brings together 18 higher education institutions from across the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), as well as industry and other stakeholders including Engie UK, the Building Research Environment (BRE) Trust, Manufacturing Technology Centre, HS2, Severn Trent Water and many more.

The C-DICE partners, together with others, have pledged a further £3.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions, making the programme the biggest investment in postdoctoral development in the UK. 

C-DICE will establish a diverse pipeline of talent with the skills and knowledge to address the critical challenges in delivering sustainable infrastructure, cities and energy supply. There is currently an unprecedented demand for such individuals with over 220,000 vacancies expected over the next decade. 

The 4 strands of the programme

There are four main strands to the C-DICE programme:

  1. The Training Strand - bespoke training and development activities linked to the UKRIC and ERA facilities
  2. The Development Strand - providing funded placements and secondments with academic and industry partners
  3. The Sandpit Programme - placing researchers in multi-disciplinary teams to generate novel solutions to the net zero-carbon challenge
  4. The Impact Strand, which delivers knowledge exchange events to maximise and disseminate the outcomes and benefits.

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Key deliverables

As well as the development of post-doctoral talent that will accrue through the programme, key deliverables will emerge in the form of transferable frameworks with potential to be applied across the researcher development landscape. At the end of 4 years these will comprise:

  • A framework for the development of postdoctoral researchers. This will be developed following an evaluation of the effectiveness of the approaches adopted by C-DICE for attracting, engaging and developing highly skilled individuals for a range of postdoctoral careers for diverse of participants at all career stages, from first post-doctoral positions to established research fellows.
  • A skills development roadmap. Guidance and insights into how to maintain the UK’s competitiveness for attracting and retaining diverse, high quality postdoctoral talent in a global market, to address future skills shortages.
  • A strategic research impact evaluation assessment. A review of delivery mechanisms to exploit large-scale public investment in research, and recommendations on the effective adoption of multidisciplinary approaches to addressing research challenges.
  • Industrial Strategy ‘Implementation’. A white paper for realising the people elements of the Industrial Strategy at the postdoctoral level, specifically addressing the deficit of advanced STEM skills in the labour market, where jobs are forecast to rise at a rate double that of other sectors.
  • Net zero-carbon solutions. Novel research solutions to address the net zero-carbon target across the energy and infrastructure sectors contributing to the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Ensuring that all researchers can access appropriate development opportunities, and that an inclusive culture is created is a priority for C-DICE. EDI will be embedded in all C-DICE activities, enabling the research community to address far more challenging and complex problems that creating and sustaining low energy, net zero-carbon infrastructure and cities presents. This will span fundamental research, applied technologies and policy developments and will together tackle the most significant challenges of our age.

From ERA’s viewpoint, C-DICE will enable our energy researchers to access an unrivalled package of training and development programmes, facilities and expertise, developing the vital skills they need for their energy careers.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of ERA

UKCRIC post-doctoral researchers will benefit from this investment, which will help to catalyse research efforts vital to resolving some of the major challenges for infrastructure and cities.

Professor Paul Jeffrey, UKCRIC Director of Research Impact

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C-DICE is a new £4m Research England funded centre for post-doctoral development in infrastructure, cities and energy.

C-DICE