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Willetts announces latest research investment fund money

The last three universities to benefit from the current round of the government’s Research Partnership Investment Fund have been announced.

 

David Willetts

The fund, which allocates money for research infrastructure in universities when matched two to one by private investment, will contribute £15 million towards a £163 million “research and innovation hub” at King’s College London’s new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital, in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.

Meanwhile the University of Glasgow has been awarded £10 million towards a £58 million clinical research facility focussing on chronic diseases, in partnership with the Welcome Trust, the Wolfson Foundation and others.

The University of Southampton will also receive £10 million as part of a £33 million engineering research facility in partnership with risk management organisation Lloyds Register, which will focus on engineering science in fluids, structures, materials and “geotechnics”.

Managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the fund provides between £10 million and £35 million to infrastructure projects where private investors contribute at least double.

The announcement means the total £300 million available under the 2012-2015 scheme has now been allocated, with 23 universities winning funding, 18 of which are within the Russell Group of research-intensive institutions.

Earlier this year the chancellor, George Osborne, committed to extending the RPIF to 2016-17, making available a further £160 million.

Hefce said that details of how to bid for this funding would be available soon on its website.

The latest funding was announced by universities and science minister David Willetts during the Mountbatten lecture, which is organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, which he gave at the Royal Institution on 9 October.

Speaking about the government’s focus on “eight great technologies”, which he predicted would “accelerate high-tech progress from the lab to the marketplace”, Mr Willetts also announced that the £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst was now open.

The catalyst in agricultural science, one of the eight technologies, is intended to bridge the so-called “valley of death” between the lab and the marketplace and will include funding to support the transfer of technology and new products to developing countries.

The minister also announced two projects to monitor ocean currents in the North Atlantic together worth £44 million, coordinated by the Natural Environment Research Council with US partners.

Mr Willetts also confirmed a £34 million investment in a new data research network and four administrative data research centres “to help the UK get ahead in the global technology race”, part of the government’s wider £189 million research initiative on big data – another of the eight technologies.

The eight great technologies are big data, space and satellites, robotics and autonomous systems, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, agri-science, advanced materials and energy storage.

elizabeth.gibney@tsleducation.com

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