< Back to News

Nominations open for the UK’s only awards entirely focused on recognising technical excellence in higher education and research

28 January 2021

Organisers of the country’s prestigious Papin Prizes are delighted to announce that nominations are now open to recognise the achievements of technical colleagues across UK higher education and research.

The Papin Prizes recognise the outstanding work that higher education technicians do, often behind the scenes, to ensure that the highest possible quality of teaching and research can be delivered. Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic the technical community has gone to huge lengths to be at the forefront of swiftly transitioning academic teaching online, and in undertaking all of the requirements in making university campuses COVID-secure for the start of the academic year.

Academic technicians are also playing a crucial role in supporting world-leading COVID research being undertaken by universities. This research is helping the UK fight the coronavirus, and in recognition of this, a special Papin Prize category is being launched this year to recognise the efforts of a technical team or an individual colleague during the pandemic.

Kelly Vere MBE, Technician Commitment lead for the Science Council, and Director of Technical Skills and Strategy, at the University of Nottingham,  said: “Technical colleagues across the sector have been at the forefront of the response to Covid-19, supporting critical research, the national testing programme and aiding the civic response to the pandemic. Technicians have also had to act swiftly in response to new government guidance – including opening up testing sites on campuses and transitioning learning online, and so we look forward to receiving and reading nominations for this extra special COVID Recognition award.”

This award, along with the other seven Papin Prize categories, which recognise the full range of activities undertaken by technicians in higher education and research, will be presented at a special award ceremony at the UK Higher Education Technician Summit (HETS), which will this year be held at the University of Nottingham’s East Midlands Conference Centre.

HETS 2021 will share best practice amongst technical staff in the UK, Ireland and beyond and will discuss the progress of the UK’s first Policy Commission focused on the career advancement of the UK’s higher education and research sector’s technical community. The commission is expected to report its findings in the autumn.

Kelly Vere continued: “HETS focuses on addressing key topics and issues impacting the technical community along with sessions that facilitate the sharing of best practice across the sector.

“The landscape in terms of the importance of supporting technical colleagues has grown exponentially in recent times. HETS 2021 will see discussions on the progress of the UK’s first technician-focused Policy Commission, and the Government’s recently published R&D Roadmap and planned expansion of Research and Development funding. Without investment and support for the UK’s technical community it will be impossible for the Government to achieve its aspirations of becoming a ‘Science Superpower’ and the increase in R&D funding to get it there.”

Dr Helen Turner, Director of the Midlands Innovation university partnership – a collaboration of the region’s eight most research-intensive universities, which founded the UK’s Higher Education Technical Summit and Papin Prizes said: “Midlands Innovation was at the forefront of recognising the important role that the higher education and research technical community make to academic research and discovery, and as the partnership making the UK’s largest investment in the career development of technical colleagues in the sector, we are delighted to be hosting the 4th UK Higher Education Technicians Summit.”

The eight 2021 Papin Prize categories are:

  • COVID-19 Recognition
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Newcomer
  • Core Research Facility 
  • Infrastructure 
  • Outreach 
  • Technical Team 
  • The Professor Lord Bhattacharyya Lifetime Achievement Award


Named after Denis Papin, a famous 17th century technician, the Papin Prizes were first awarded at the inaugural Higher Education Technicians Summit (HETS) in 2015. Held biennially, the Papin Prizes recognise and reward innovation and excellence amongst technicians working in higher education and research.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is given in honour of Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, founder Chairman of WMG at Warwick University, who was a passionate champion of the work of technicians.

UK HETS is hosted by Midlands Innovation, a partnership of eight universities - Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham & Warwick, in partnership with the Science Council.

For more information about HETS visit https://midlandsinnovation.org.uk/UK-Higher-Education-Technician-Summit or for Papin Prize information or to submit a nomination, visit: www.mitalent.ac.uk/Papin-Prizes

Papin small