Home > Press > Funding research to answer the big questions
Plans to invest almost £1.3 billion into research aimed at meeting the key
challenges facing the nation were outlined today by John Denham, Secretary
of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).
Funding research to answer the big questions
London, UK | Posted on December 11th, 2007
The funding will be shared across four ambitious programmes to spearhead
research on major issues affecting people across the UK and the world,
including climate change, the ageing process, energy and global security. They
could lead to scientific breakthroughs to allow, for example, the mass
production of non polluting cars or new treatments for incurable diseases
like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
The programmes will bring together the expertise of UK-based scientists across
the seven UK Research Councils. Funding is being made available through the
science budget allocations which were published by DIUS earlier this year
as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. DIUS will be spending a total
of almost £6 billion per year on science and research by 2010/11.
Secretary of State John Denham said:
"This year's Comprehensive Spending Review made this Government's commitment
to the UK research base clear. It allows us to consolidate our work and
pursue national priorities
"An ageing population, environmental change, sustainable energy, and threats to
security are some of the biggest challenges we face in this country. Through
examining and researching these issues we can understand them better and
ultimately provide solutions to benefit us all.
"The Government is committed to tackling the long term challenges facing the
UK and I believe our spending in science and research reflects our ambition
for our country to continue to be secure and successful in a rapidly changing
Speaking on behalf of Research Councils UK, Professor Ian Diamond said:
"These programmes, in addition to our responsive funding research, will enable
UK research to remain globally competitive. In addressing major societal
challenges, we will build partnerships - partnerships between the best
researchers in the UK and overseas and partnerships between our researchers
and our user communities in the private, public and charitable sectors.
"By stimulating these relationships we can ensure not only that the research
is world class but also that its non-academic impact is maximised."
Details on how the Government's science and research budget will be spent
are outlined today in the Science Budget Allocations Booklet published by DIUS.
Overall DIUS will be spending almost £6 billion on science and research by
the end of the CSR period. Nearly £4 billion is provided by the Science
Budget. And nearly £2 billion will reach Higher Education Institutions
(HEIs) through the Higher Education Funding Council for England's (HEFCE)
quality-related funding stream.
Key allocations of the Science Budget include almost £2 billion for medical
research over three years - a funding rise of 30 per cent - to fund both basic
and translational research. This is in line with the recommendations in Sir
David Cooksey's report on health research. In particular, the settlement will
enable the refurbishment of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge
and the future development of the new UK Medical Research Centre in London.
The allocation to the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) supports
the vision for Harwell and Daresbury to be developed as Science and Innovation
Campuses. The Daresbury Campus will be developed as a partnership between
the STFC, the NWDA, the private sector and universities. The Government
has asked Sir Tom McKillop to look specifically at the development of the
Daresbury site as part of his wider independent review into the future of
the Manchester City Region and wider North West economy.
John Denham also announced that he has asked Ian Diamond as Chair of RCUK to
undertake a series of reviews into the health of key disciplines. The first
review will be on Physics and it will be led by Professor Bill Wakeham,
Vice Chancellor of the University of Southampton.
About Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
NOTES TO EDITORS
1) Copies of the "Science Budget Allocations Booklet" are available on the
DIUS Website. The booklet contains the allocations of all organisations
funded by the Science Budget in 2008-11.
2) Details of the four cross council programmes are as follows:
Ageing: life long health and wellbeing
Research by the UK research councils is helping to improve understanding of
the ageing process and what can be done to keep people healthy throughout their
lives. Recent advances include findings that may lead to better ways to treat
aortic aneurysms, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, diabetes and stroke.
Living with environmental change
An interdisciplinary research and policy programme to increase resilience to
- and reduce costs of - environmental change. It will examine the associated
pressures on our natural resources, ecosystem services, economic growth and
The Research Councils' Energy Programme brings together energy-related research
and training across the Councils to address the outstanding international
issues of climate change and security of energy supply.
Global threats to security
This will integrate research in crime, terrorism, environmental stress
and global poverty. It will address the causes of threats to our security,
their detection, and possible interventions to prevent harm.
3) A further £100 million of planned investment will be spent on
multi-disciplinary programmes covering the digital economy (£58m) and
nanoscience (£50m). This is in addition to work being undertaken by Research
Councils individually in these areas.
4) The case studies below are examples of the kind of research already under
way in these areas.
Energy: Hydrogen breakthrough could open the road to carbon-free cars
A new breakthrough in hydrogen storage technology could remove a key barrier
to widespread uptake of non-polluting cars that produce no carbon dioxide
emissions. UK scientists have developed a compound of the element lithium
which may make it practical to store enough hydrogen onboard fuel cell powered
cars to enable them to drive over 300 miles before refuelling. Achieving
this driving range is considered essential if a mass market for fuel cell
cars is to develop in future years, but has not been possible using current
hydrogen storage technologies.
Living with environmental change: The partnership of key funders in this
ambitious 10 year programme are now setting out the priorities for LWEC. Over
the next decade they expect to provide research needed to deliver outcomes
such as a sustainable supply of clean water to the south east of England,
a reduced risk of flood damage from severe weather and sea-level rise, more
resilient buildings, a keener insurance market, and sustainable ecosystem
use in developing countries that will help alleviate poverty and improve
Global Threats to Security: Homeland Security
The recent publication on Homeland Security, based on the work of the Economic
and Social Research Council, shows how key public and private-sector bodies
can prevent, pre-empt, counter and manage terrorist attacks by using a matrix
of factors such as types of terrorist networks, tactics and targets. It
examines the measures taken since 9/11 to enhance homeland security and
considers whether domestic security measures are striking an appropriate
balance between homeland security and civil liberties.
Ageing: The Strategic Promotion of Ageing Research Capacity (SPARC)
This programme was launched by BBSRC and EPSRC in 2005. SPARC-funded researcher
Dr Mark Hollands from the University of Birmingham, is examining how the
brain's ability to process visual information, describing environmental
features such as obstacles and safe places to step, is affected by ageing
and other factors. The aim is to develop diagnostics to identify people at
risk of falling, and identify treatments and interventions to promote safety.
Digital economy: Combating credit card fraud
Imperial College London, working in collaboration with Capital One, Lloyds
TSB, Alliance & Leicester and Abbey are developing a new computer model
that promises to identify credit card fraud more effectively that currently
possible, benefiting both banks and their customers. Banks already monitor
credit card transactions in order to spot anomalies that might indicate
fraudulent use. But the Imperial College team are working on a more
sophisticated model that can identify much smaller fraud-related blips,
giving earlier warning that a card has been stolen.
5) DIUS also announced quality related research funding rising to £1.6 billion
by 2010-11 and continuing capital funding of £736 million a year through the
Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to support universities'
investment in world class research and excellent and innovative learning
spaces for students. We expect that separate allocations will be made by the
devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will
all be in addition to the Science Budget University Capital stream which
has already been announced to provide capital support for Research Council
funded research (the Science Budget element is UK-wide, the exact breakdown
is still to be determined, but typically around four fifths of this capital
stream has been provided through HEFCE to institutions in England).
6) The funding will enable the meeting of an important commitment in the
ten-year science and innovation framework concerning support for charitable
research. By the end of this financial year a total of £180 million will
be allocated to HEIs as part of the charitable support element of this
funding stream. And we anticipate that, subject to the outcomes of the 2008
Research Assessment Exercise, it will be possible for this total to rise to
some £270m by 2010/11. This will ensure charities continue their vital role
in supporting research, particularly medical research, in Higher Education
Institutions and elsewhere.
7) Funding from the Large Facilities Capital Fund for individual projects
including the Laboratory of the Molecular Biology and the development of
the UKMRC, will be released when business plans for individual projects are
agreed with Government.
Research funding table for HEFCE (England only)
Figures in £s/millions 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11
HE: teaching and learning 470 470 470 444
HE: research capital 266 266 266 292
Recurrent research 1,389 1,444 1,509 1,634
Science Budget Allocations table
£'000 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 CSR07 End
Arts and 96,792 103,492 104,397 108,827 316,716 12.4%
Biotech 386,854 427,000 452,563 471,057 1,350,620 21.8%
Economics 149,881 164,924 170,614 177,574 513,112 18.5%
Eng and 711,112 795,057 814,528 843,465 2,453,050 18.6%
Medical 543,399 605,538 658,472 707,025 1,971,035 30.1%
Natural 372,398 392,150 408,162 436,000 1,236,312 17.1%
Science 573,464 623,641 630,337 651,636 1,905,614 13.6%
Sub Total 2,833,900 3,111,802 3,239,073 3,395,584 9,746,459 19.8%
Less -85,748 -124,748 -141,748 -153,748 -420,244 79.3%
Total 2,748,152 2,987,054 3,097,325 3,241,836 9,326,215 18.0%
Royal 41,072 43,360 45,823 48,558 137,741 18.2%
Royal 9,752 10,279 12,138 12,826 35,243 31.5%
British 21,385 22,540 25,062 26,448 74,050 23.7%
Total 72,209 76,179 83,023 87,832 247,034 21.6%
Large 104,681 104,681 138,428 265,285 508,394 153.4%
University300,000 266,711 258,149 214,851 739,711 -28.4%
Higher 85,000 85,000 99,000 113,000 297,000 32.9%
Public 14,000 12,500 12,500 12,500 37,500 -10.7%
Science 11,441 13,441 15,441 17,441 46,323 52.4%
Other 46,940 8,857 11,557 17,678 38,092 -62.3%
Total 3,382,423 3,554,423 3,715,423 3,970,423 11,240,269 17.4%
1 These are iterative amounts. The final precise figures will be included
in the HEFCE Grant letter.
DIUS press office
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