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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

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 social progress.

Energy 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 human well-being.

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
                                                  Total      CSR07

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%
of Eng

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.

Matt Barker
DIUS press office
44 020 7215 6213.

Copyright © PR Newswire Association LLC.

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