Details of how a £350 million fund will be used to train over 3,500 postgraduate students in engineering and physical sciences, will be announced today by Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts.
This is the UK's largest investment in postgraduate training in engineering and physical sciences. It will fund over seventy new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), spread across 24 UK universities.
The funding, targeted at areas vital to economic growth, has been allocated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Science Minister David Willetts said: "Scientists and engineers are vital to our economy and society. It is their talent and imagination, as well as their knowledge and skills, that inspire innovation and drive growth across a range of sectors, from manufacturing to financial services.
"I am particularly pleased to see strong partnerships between universities, industry and business among the new centres announced today. This type of collaboration is a key element of our industrial strategy and will continue to keep us at the forefront of the global science race."
A total of 1000 partners will be involved in the Centres, leveraging in around £250 million worth of support. Many of the Centres will involve research that connects to key industries and important technologies which will aid innovation and growth. A number of the other Research Councils, including the Medical Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, are also contributing towards Centres with key relevance to their fields of research. EPSRC may announce a further group of Centres if more resource can be secured.
Today's announcement takes place at a press conference at the top of BT Tower in London where a number of CDT Directors, students and industry representatives will be on hand to talk with media. BT is involved in seven CDTs, providing both financial and partnership support.
Paul Golby, EPSRC's Chair, said: "Centres for Doctoral Training have already proved to be a great success and the model is popular with students, business and industry. These new centres will give the country the highly trained scientists and engineers it needs and they will be equipped with skills to move on in their careers. The standard of applications for Centres was very high and more could have been funded if we had the capacity."
Sir James Dyson, design engineer and founder of Dyson, whose firm is involved in seven CDTs, said: "To compete internationally Britain needs to export world-beating inventions which are the result of intellectual property developed by our companies and universities. We must support British engineers and scientists at all levels, rewarding them properly for their work. This investment is heartening, but genuine research and development takes time. Continuing robust investment is required if we are to see the breakthroughs which will deliver the growth we require."
As part of the event EPSRC's CEO, Professor David Delpy and BT's Research MD, Tim Whitley will officially sign a Memorandum of Understanding to cement collaborative working.
This much closer relationship will help to ensure that long-term pre-competitive research in priority areas, which align with EPSRC and BT's strategies, delivers not just academic excellence, but high levels of economic and societal impact.
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Notes to Editors:
1. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. http://www.
2. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £467M (2012-2013), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: http://www.
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: http://www.
3. The Medical Research Council (MRC)
The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers' money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Twenty-nine MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. http://www.
The MRC Centenary Timeline chronicles 100 years of life-changing discoveries and shows how our research has had a lasting influence on healthcare and wellbeing in the UK and globally, right up to the present day. http://www.
4. Centres for Doctoral Training
Centres for Doctoral Training are one of the three main ways by which EPSRC provides support for Doctoral Training. The other routes are the Doctoral Training Grant and Industrial Case Studentships. It is anticipated that much of the need for doctoral students in many areas will continue to be met by the DTG and ICASE, which together make up more than 50 per cent of EPSRC's current spend on studentships.
CDTs are funded for four years and include technical and transferrable skills, as well as a research element. The centres bring together diverse areas of expertise to train engineers and scientists with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle today's evolving issues, and future challenges. They also provide a supportive and exciting environment for students, create new working cultures, build relationships between teams in universities and forge lasting links with industry.