UK government support for university and business research partnerships
favours the South of England
28 November 2012
Seven new university and business research partnerships in
sectors including life sciences, energy efficiency and advanced
manufacturing were announced earlier this month by UK Minister for
Universities and Science David Willetts.
The new projects double the number of winning bids from the UK
Research Partnership Investment Fund (UK RPIF) to 14. When complete,
the combined government, business and charity support will deliver
more than £1 billion of new funding for research.
The 14 winning bids will take up £220 million of public funding
and leverage over £600 million of private support. There will
shortly be a new bidding round for the remaining £80 million of
public investment and both new and resubmitted bids will be
The funding is part of the Government's economic policy objective to achieve "strong,
sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared
across the country and between industries". So to show
how evenly shared the policy outcomes are, the total funds arranged
by geography are shown below.
Funding by geography
|Uxbridge (near London, South)
|Belfast (Northern Ireland)
This amounts to £497m for the South, £184m for the Midlands, £73m
for the Northwest and the rest is as above.
The seven projects are:
- A £38 million partnership between the University of
Manchester, The Christie hospital and Cancer Research UK to
develop the Manchester Cancer Research Centre. This will look at
cancer treatments targeted to individuals based on the specific
characteristics of their tumour biology. It will span laboratory
research through to clinical trials and patient care and focus
on five research areas: radiation therapy, lung cancer, women’s
cancers, melanoma and haematological oncology.
- An £85 million partnership between UCL
(University College London) and the Great Ormond Street
Hospital. The Centre for Children’s Rare Disease Research will
combine the specialist research expertise of the UCL Institute
of Child Health with the unique patient cohort at Great Ormond
Street to find treatments and cures for rare diseases of which
over 6,000 have been identified.
- A £32 million partnership between Queen's University
Belfast, The Atlantic Philanthropies, a
Wellcome-Wolfson Capital Award, The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable
Trust and the Insight Trust for the Visually Impaired to deliver
the next phase of the Institute of Health Sciences. The Centre
for Experimental Medicine will bring researchers working on
vision sciences onto the campus alongside new research
programmes in diabetes and genomics.
- A £34 million partnership between the University of
Nottingham, GlaxoSmithKline and other co-investors to
support the Centre in Sustainable Chemistry. This will be housed
within the iconic GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for
Sustainable Chemistry and will minimise environmental impact. It
will ensure that chemistry becomes more energy and resource
efficient and sustainable in meeting society's needs for new and
better medicines, safer agrochemicals and better materials.
- A £38 million partnership between Swansea University,
British Petroleum (BP), and TATA Steel Europe for the
development of the Energy Safety Research Institute. This will
capitalise on the university’s strengths in petroleum and
chemical processing and focus on the safety issues surrounding
the development of existing energy processes, as well as the
safe deployment and integration of new green energy
- A £60 million partnership between Brunel University,
(based in Uxbridge, Middlesex) TWI and other companies to develop the National Research Centre
for Structural Integrity. This will act as a dedicated national
hub for interdisciplinary research into the soundness of the
design and constructions of products, plant and infrastructure
across the energy, transport and advanced manufacturing sectors.
- A £150 million partnership between Imperial College
London and Voreda to contribute to the development of a
major new campus adjacent to the White City regeneration area.
The centrepiece will be the Research and Translation Hub, which
will provide high specification research and incubator space for
1,000 researchers investigating next generation materials and
UK RPIF was first launched with £100 million of public finance in
May 2012 and, in response to the large number of high-quality bids,
the Government recently tripled the public support to £300 million.
All projects have to include private funding from industry or the
charitable sector worth a minimum of double the public contribution
– making more than £1 billion of investment in total.
The 14 projects will provide a base for developing new knowledge
to support economic growth, and to help meet the health needs of the
UK and the wider world. Universities are contributing over £70
million from their own resources.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said, "It
is fantastic that our top businesses and top charities are queuing
up to collaborate with our world-class universities. They want to
work together to deliver innovation, commercialisation and growth,
which will help make sure the UK competes and thrives in the global
race. The winning projects will tackle the key issues we face — like
fighting disease, ensuring energy efficiency and improving
infrastructure — for the benefit of all.”
Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of the Higher Education
Funding Council for England (HEFCE), said, “The demand for funding
from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund demonstrates the
power of universities in promoting economic growth through research
and knowledge exchange. The support from international companies and
world-leading charities — all making hard-headed investments — is a
tribute to the excellence of scientific and research staff in our
The projects announced in October were:
- A £60 million partnership between the University of
Birmingham and Rolls-Royce for a world-leading research
centre for high-temperature metallurgy and associated processes
for components including turbine blades. This will ensure a more
effective translation of fundamental research to production and
train engineers from apprenticeships to postdoctoral fellows.
- A £32 million partnership of the University of Oxford
and a consortium including UCB Pharma,
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV,
Boehringer Ingelheim and Takeda for a new centre for drug target
discovery and for research based on medical data sets. Bringing
together academia, industry and the Oxford University Hospitals
NHS Trust, with capability to analyse massive medical datasets,
it will help deliver improved medicines, better health care, and
economic growth from UK’s life sciences.
- A £92 million partnership between the University of
Warwick, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Tata Motors
European Technical Centre (TMETC) for a new National Automotive
Innovation Campus. This will develop new technologies to reduce
our dependency on fossil fuels. It will also address a shortage
of skilled R&D staff in the automotive supply chain. JLR and
TMETC, working with Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the
University of Warwick, envisage a 10-fold return on investment
through improved products, processes and services.
- A £138 million partnership of the University of
Oxford and a consortium including Synergy Health,
Cancer Research UK, Roche Diagnostics, GE Healthcare and the
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, to establish a new
world-leading centre for targeted cancer research. This will
take an all-encompassing approach to patients with early stage
cancer, to develop, test and implement personalised minimally
invasive treatments, combined with targeted diagnosis, imaging
- A more than £35 million partnership between the
University of Surrey (Guildford) and industry consortium including
many of the mobile communications global industry leaders to
build a new collaborative international research centre which
will support the development of 5th Generation cellular
communications. The 5G Centre will provide real-time
experimental facilities to underpin the development of new
mobile broadband internet products and services.
- A £38 million project at the University of Dundee,
with co-investment from the Wellcome Trust and others,
contributing to a new centre which will increase the scope for
translating life sciences research into global healthcare
solutions in areas such as cancer, infectious diseases, eczema
and diabetes. In collaboration with major pharmaceutical
companies, it will help reduce the costs of bringing safe new
drugs to market.
- A £33 million partnership between the University of
Liverpool and Unilever to develop a state-of-the-art
materials chemistry research hub, the ‘Materials Innovation
Factory’, providing an unparalleled suite of open-access
facilities. It will help accelerate research and reduce new
product discovery times relevant to a range of sectors including
sustainable energy, home and personal care, pharmaceuticals,
paint and coatings, thus helping to drive economic growth and
1. The £300 million UK Research Partnership Investment Fund will
provide investment in higher education research facilities.
Universities are required to secure at least double the amount they
receive from the fund from non-public sources. The Fund was set up
in 2012 and will allocate all funding across two funding rounds.
The Fund is managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for
England (HEFCE), working in collaboration with devolved
counterparts, with proposals assessed by an independent assessment
panel. Funding awards are subject to further due diligence being
conducted satisfactorily. Details of the UK RPIF are available on
the HEFCE website at:
2. The UK government's plan for growth published at Budget 2011:
The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve "strong,
sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared
across the country and between industries".