Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivers his keynote speech at the Conservative Party's annual conference

Government announces �1bn funding boost for science

World-leading science projects are receiving a £1bn join industry, university and government boost, it has been announced.

The government will add £200m of new money to the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), supporting long-term university capital projects.

The fund, which launched with a government investment of £100m at this year's budget, was heavily oversubscribed and received an overwhelming number of high-quality bids.

This additional support will more than double the number of projects that will benefit.

"This new funding recognises the long-term investment the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has made in our top research and innovation centres, strengthening the links between EPSRC, universities and business," said Council chief executive David Delpy.

"It will provide the vital tools to help the UK’s best scientists make new discoveries more quickly and drive future innovation."

To access the money, universities must match the funding by at least double from private companies or charities – taking the total investment, including universities’ own contributions, to at least £1bn.

As well as supporting the best proposals already submitted by universities, the fund will now reopen for further bids.

Subject to final due diligence from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), successful projects from the first round of bidding for the fund include:

  • A £60m partnership between the University of Birmingham and Rolls-Royce for a world-leading research centre for high-temperature metallurgy and associated processes for components including turbine blades. This will ensure a more effective translation of fundamental research to production and train engineers from apprenticeships to postdoctoral fellows.
  • A £32m partnership of the University of Oxford and a consortium including UCB Pharma, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Boehringer Ingelheim and Takeda for a new centre for drug target discovery and for research based on medical data sets. 
  • A £92m partnership between the University of Warwick, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) for a new National Automotive Innovation Campus. This will develop new technologies to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. It will also address a shortage of skilled R&D staff in the automotive supply chain. JLR and TMETC, working with Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick, envisage a tenfold return on investment through improved products, processes and services.
  • A £138m partnership of the University of Oxford and a consortium including Synergy Health, Cancer Research UK, Roche Diagnostics, GE Healthcare and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, to establish a new world-leading centre for targeted cancer research.
  • A more than £35m partnership between the University of Surrey and industry consortium including many of the mobile communications global industry leaders to build new collaborative international research centre which will support the development of fifth-generation cellular communications. The 5G Centre will provide real-time experimental facilities to underpin the development of new mobile broadband Internet products and services.
  • A £38m project at the University of Dundee, with co-investment from the Wellcome Trust and others, contributing to a new centre which will increase the scope for translating life sciences research into global healthcare solutions in areas such as cancer, infectious diseases, eczema and diabetes. In collaboration with major pharmaceutical companies, it will help reduce the costs of bringing safe new drugs to market.
  • A £33m partnership between the University of Liverpool and Unilever to develop a state-of-the-art materials chemistry research hub, the ‘Materials Innovation Factory’, providing an unparalleled suite of open-access facilities. 

It will help accelerate research and reduce new product discovery times relevant to range of sectors including sustainable energy, home and personal care, pharmaceuticals, paint and coatings, thus helping to drive economic growth and international competitiveness.

"This is a particularly encouraging message and endorsement from government of the importance of research and development in creating and underpinning our nation’s future growth," said Sir John Parker GBE FREng, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

"Our many universities, operating at the leading edge of research in cooperation with industrial partners, have the ability to lead in the development of world-class products and services that can fuel long-term growth and success."

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