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More than $1.6B to be invested in U.K. science and research

Friday, November 2, 2012

Seven new university and business research projects won bids from the U.K. Research Partnership Investment Fund (UK RPIF), doubling the number of winning bids to 14. When complete, the scheme will deliver more than $1.6 billion of new funding for research from government, industry and charities.

The 14 winning bids, which cover the whole of the U.K., will take up $352 million of public funding and leverage in over $962 million of private support. There will shortly be a new bidding round for the remaining $128 million of public investment, and both new and resubmitted bids will be eligible.

“It is fantastic that our top businesses and top charities are queuing up to collaborate with our world-class universities. They want to work together to deliver innovation, commercialization and growth,” said David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science. “The winning projects will tackle the key issues we face—like fighting disease, ensuring energy efficiency and improving infrastructure—for the benefit of all.”

Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of HEFCE, said, “The demand for funding from the U.K. Research Partnership Investment Fund demonstrates the power of universities in promoting economic growth through research and knowledge exchange. The support from international companies and world-leading charities—all making hard-headed investments—is a tribute to the excellence of scientific and research staff in our universities.”

The seven projects include:

  • A $61 million partnership between the University of Manchester, The Christie hospital and Cancer Research U.K. to develop the Manchester Cancer Research Centre. This will look at cancer treatments targeted to individuals based on the specific characteristics of their tumor biology. It will span laboratory research through to clinical trials, and patient care and focus on five research areas: radiation therapy, lung cancer, women’s cancers, melanoma and hematological oncology.
  • A $136 million partnership between UCL (University College London) and the Great Ormond Street Hospital. The Centre for Children’s Rare Disease Research will combine the specialist research expertise of the UCL Institute of Child Health with the unique patient cohort at Great Ormond Street to find treatments and cures for rare diseases, of which over 6,000 have been identified.
  • A $51 million partnership between Queen’s University Belfast, The Atlantic Philanthropies, a Wellcome-Wolfson Capital Award, The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust and the Insight Trust for the Visually Impaired to deliver the next phase of the Institute of Health Sciences. The Centre for Experimental Medicine will bring researchers working on vision sciences onto the campus alongside new research programs in diabetes and genomics.
  • A $54 million partnership between the University of Nottingham and GlaxoSmithKline to support the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Chemistry. This will be housed within the new Carbon Neutral Laboratory, and will minimize environmental impact. It will ensure that chemistry becomes more energy- and resource-efficient and sustainable in meeting society’s needs for better medicines, safer agrochemicals and new materials.
  • A $61 million partnership between Swansea University, British Petroleum (BP), and TATA Steel Europe for the development of the Energy Safety Research Institute. This will capitalize on the university’s strengths in petroleum and chemical processing, and focus on the safety issues surrounding the development of existing energy processes, as well as the safe deployment and integration of new green energy technologies.
  • A $96 million partnership between Brunel University, TWI and other companies to develop a National Research Centre for Structural Integrity. This will act as a dedicated national hub for interdisciplinary research into the soundness of the design and constructions of products, plant and infrastructure across the energy, transport and advanced manufacturing.
  • A $240 million partnership between Imperial College London and Voreda to contribute to the development of a major new campus adjacent to the White City regeneration area. The centerpiece will be the Research and Translation Hub, which will provide high-specification research and incubator space for 1,000 researchers investigating next-generation materials and spin-out companies.

UK RPIF was first launched with $160 million of public finance in May 2012. In response to the large number of high-quality bids, the government has recently tripled the public support to $481 million. All projects have to include private funding from industry or the charitable sector worth a minimum of double the public contribution—making more than $1.6 billion of investment in total.

The 14 projects that have gained UK RPIF funding will provide a base for developing new knowledge to support economic growth, and to help meet the health needs of the U,K, and the wider world. Universities are contributing over $112 million from their own resources.

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