The first is a new initiative, a set of Prosperity Partnerships, which will receive £31million of government funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). This will be matched by a further £36m from partner organisations in cash or in-kind contributions, and £11m from universities’ funds, resulting in a £78m investment.
“A central part of our Industrial Strategy is boosting the economic impact of our world-class research base by supporting the flow of innovative ideas and techniques from concept to market-place,” Johnson said. “This investment will ensure the work of our universities continues to have positive impact around the world and maintain the UK’s global leadership in science and innovation.”
Ten universities will lead on 11 projects that range from the future networks for digital infrastructure to offshore wind and they will partner with businesses operating in key areas of the innovation landscape. These include household names such as Siemens, BP and Unilever as well as firms like M Squared Lasers that are leading in areas such as advanced photonics.
Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker, Professor of Biochemical Engineering at UCL, who chaired the panel that approved the Prosperity Partnerships projects, said: “The quality of the applications we reviewed was outstanding and demonstrated strength of vision, relevance and a determination to pursue long term collaborative research. The grants promise to create a series of exciting avenues of research leading to industrial implementation.”
The second EPSRC investment is £60m for 33 universities to advance their Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA). These allow institutions the flexibility to operate tailored schemes that help increase the likelihood of impact from their research. The IAAs speed up the contribution that scientists make towards innovation, successful businesses and the economic returns that benefit the UK.
Professor Philip Nelson, chief executive of the EPSRC said: “These new EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships and IAA investments will provide the right conditions in which new technologies and products can be developed more quickly. In turn, this will return social and economic benefits and ensure the UK continues to be one of the best places in the world to research, innovate and grow business.”