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Head of Research Grants & Contracts

Requisition ID:  18884

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Open Ended
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  23-Jun-2022


We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


What’s in it for you? Newcastle University is a great place to work, with excellent benefits. We have a generous holiday package; plus the opportunity to buy more, great pension schemes and a number of health and wellbeing initiatives to support you.


Newcastle is an inclusive global University community where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.  As a University of Sanctuary, we aim to provide a welcoming place of safety for all, offering opportunities to people fleeing violence and persecution.


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains colleagues from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.


Salary: £51,799.00 - £54,943.00, with progression to £60,022  per annum


Closing Date: 02 July 2022



The role


An exciting opportunity has arisen with the University’s Research Strategy & Development (RSD) Service. Newcastle University's Research Strategy  sets the ambition for growth of people and resources that will fulfil our potential as a world-class, research-intensive University. 


We seek to recruit a motivated and proactive Head of Research Grants and Contracts.


You will have overall responsibility for the strategic leadership of the newly merged Research Grants & Contracts team and its considerable portfolio and will provide advice and guidance, leading or overseeing negotiations on particularly complex or strategically important contracts as necessary as well as building and maintaining strong relationships across and outside the University.


To be successful in this role you will be committed to continuous improvement, and lead, develop and motivate the team to deliver outstanding performance, whilst identifying objectives and progress-tracking mechanisms to support success and promote a positive and proactive approach to challenges. You will work with team members and relevant colleagues in RSD and more widely to develop a progressive and joined up service delivering effective procedures and systems to support academic and professional services colleagues achieve the University’s strategic KPIs for research income.


We are looking for someone who can operate confidently at all levels, demonstrating strong interpersonal and communication skills with a pragmatic approach to problem solving. We would like to hear from candidates who have extensive experience of contract negotiation at a senior level across the breadth of research activity and a well-developed understanding of the research lifecycle.


If this is you, please contact David Hill on


We are an inclusive employer and welcome conversations around flexible working.  This role is suitable for hybrid working and we can financially support candidates wishing to relocate from outside of the region.


Key Accountabilities

Leadership and Management

•    Responsibility for the strategic leadership of the University’s Research Grants & Contracts team and its portfolio (applications for external funding worth c.£500m pa and awards c.£120m pa).

•    Setting and communicating the overall standards of service delivery and strategy for G&C; managing activities within G&C to meet agreed performance targets; controlling appropriate budgets; maintaining accurate performance records and colleague appraisals and training needs; providing the leadership and management to inspire and motivate colleagues and develop a proactive and innovative culture.

•    Provide strategic leadership of innovation in services supporting G&C activities and oversee effective co-ordination with related teams in pre and post-award functions in order to ensure an integrated research service across the University.

•    Develop, monitor and report on a range of KPIs to assess operational delivery, identify trends and potential resource implications. Review performance of the team over time and compare it to best practice in the sector, identifying areas for improvement in structure, practices, and processes promoting a culture of continuous improvement.

•    Deputise for the Director of RSD as appropriate and be a member of the RSD Management team contributing to the development of its strategies and services. Represent RSD at committees, working parties and groups internally and represent the University externally at relevant fora.

Strategic Planning

•    Responsible for planning the G&C service to shape strategic direction, provide focus and deliver a high-performing and customer-focused team, aligning priorities with University strategy and RSD objectives.

•    Ensure that the resources required for an efficient and effective G&C service are reviewed and assessed regularly as part of the University’s planning cycle. 

•    Lead the continued development, refinement, integration and review of relevant business processes to meet operational needs, working with colleagues across RSD, the Faculties, other Professional Services and Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals (NuTH) colleagues. 

•    Lead on behalf of G&C the development and implementation of new and enhanced operational procedures to ensure alignment with current and emerging national and international legal and regulatory requirements including matters relating to international collaborations, intellectual property, regulatory matters, risk and compliance liaising with other Professional Services teams as appropriate.

•    Take a lead role in raising the knowledge and awareness of emerging best practice for the G&C team and broader research management activities through liaison with external professional groups and associations and with research support offices in other universities.  In doing so, make use of the University's links with the Russell Group and ARMA and other organisations for benchmarking and similar purposes


•    Exercise sound judgement in respect of any apparent risks in submitting and accepting research grants and contracts ensuring that Heads of Academic Units/Deans are aware of possible implications.

•    ​​​​​​​Through the Newcastle Joint Research Office, work with colleagues in the NHS, in particular NuTH our main partner organisation, in the negotiation of clinical research contracts.

•    Take a lead role in providing advice and guidance, leading and overseeing negotiations on contracts relating to particularly complex, non-standard, high risk projects and those of strategic importance to the University and its strategic partners.

•    Take responsibility for ensuring the management of risk and provision of clarity around expected outcomes and ownership of benefit in research grants and contracts, escalating matters where necessary to members of the University senior management and making appropriate recommendations.

•    Provide approval and signature of legal agreements for research applications and awards in accordance with the University’s Delegation of Authority policy.

The Person (Essential)


•    Knowledge of legal and financial governance of external research funding and well-developed understanding of risk management principles as they relate to clinical and non-clinical research activity.
•    Extensive knowledge relating to contract negotiation at a senior level across the breadth of research activity in a university setting with proven ability to successfully resolve conflict situations and deadlocks.
•     Knowledge and understanding of the end to end research process from initial idea to project closedown.
•    An understanding of the higher education research environment and the significance of research for the University, its strategic partners, the researcher, students and the community.
•    Awareness of the implications of the policy requirements of external agencies including major research funders. 


•    Excellent leadership and management abilities, including the ability to think strategically, develop and communicate a shared vision, and lead and motivate a team of professional staff to deliver exceptional results.
•    Strong organisation and time management skills, including a high level of attention to detail and the ability to deal with large amounts of information 
•    Creative and innovative approach to problem solving
•    Ability to communicate effectively (both written and orally) at all levels within the organisation (e.g. senior managers, users and technical staff). 
•    Excellent negotiating and influencing skills, presentation and facilitation skills.
•    Ability to multitask, prioritise and plan tasks, with good organisational and cross functional awareness. 


•    Significant experience of team leadership and management including managing change and process improvement. 
•    Experience of developing innovative service delivery solutions, including the development of proposals to meet senior stakeholder requirements and contribute to strategic planning and continuous improvement activities. 
•    A record of achievement and proven experience of strategic operation, management and leadership. 
•    Experience of direct line management/supervision/mentoring including performance reviews.
•    A track record of successful delivery of research services from a leadership position along with success in developing services to meet new / emergent / changing needs. 


Attitudes and Behaviours

•    Proactive and flexible
•    Customer focused and service orientated, with the ability to manage relationships effectively.
•    Strong track record and ability to work collaboratively with colleagues across the University and other key stakeholders
•    Proficiency in organising and planning.
•    Ability to work under pressure, either individually or as a member of a team. 
•    Display initiative, drive and resilience.
•    Ability to manage conflicting priorities in a complex environment
•    Politically astute and sensitive to the priorities and dynamics that exist in a Higher Education Institution.


•    Qualified to degree level and/or with significant relevant management, leadership and grants and contracts experience preferably in a similar environment.





The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality. The University also holds the HR Excellence in Research award for our work to support the career development of our researchers, and is a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.


Requisition ID: 18884