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The year 2020 was challenging for everyone and the Annual Report highlights “business as usual” for Newton Gateway to Mathematics activity until March 2020 and then provides details of all the collaborative virtual activity that the Gateway has helped to develop as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Isaac Newton Institute temporarily closed on 20th March 2020, and for the rest of the reporting year, the Gateway staff worked virtually – ensuring regular contact with colleagues, partners and stakeholders. It quickly became apparent that physical events would not be able to be delivered in the short term, so those that were planned from March onwards were rescheduled to take place later in the year. Plans for their delivery continued – making use of a wide variety of virtual technologies networking activities that aim to replicate, as much as possible, the experience of attending a physical event.

 In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virtual Forum for Knowledge Exchange in the Mathematical Sciences (V-KEMS) was established. The main aim was to identify a range of virtual approaches to help address challenges from business and industry, the third sector, and other groups outside academia. These challenges may have been long-standing or may have arisen directly as a consequence of the present disruption to UK society. V-KEMS delivery has been a truly collaborative programme and one that the Gateway and partners will use as a basis for the development of new and continuing activities over the coming year.

Over the year, a number of Programmes of Work were delivered, including collaborations with the EPSRC Centre for Mathematical Imaging in Healthcare (CMIH ), the Cantab Capital Institute for the Mathematics of Information (CCIMI), the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), GCHQ, the Digital Catapult, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS), Dstl and PA Consulting.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic preventing staff from working in the building, INI and the Newton Gateway were very proud to be awarded a Gold Green Impact Award as part of the University’s Green Impact Accreditation scheme. This encourages departments and colleges to reduce their environmental impact through a set of clear and achievable criteria related to water, waste, travel, energy, food, and other areas. A large number of actions aimed at engaging staff and visitors and encouraging simple behavioural changes have been implemented. The auditors gave very positive feedback as well as helpful comments about activities to look at next year, for example, "We are extremely impressed by how much INI has managed to achieve this year - they have established sustainable action as integral to the way they operate”.

There have been many challenges faced by us all over the past year and the Newton Gateway to Mathematics is very grateful for the support given by INI, the University of Cambridge and our colleagues, partners and stakeholders. We recognise we have been in the fortunate position to be able to work effectively in novel virtual ways, and hence have ensured continued delivery of partnership activity. After some initial trepidation, the opportunities that delivering virtual events has brought have been explored widely and we look forward to continued development in the coming year, with the flexibility that virtual and semi-virtual activity provide.