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Boosts for Excellent Research at Universities

Jun 28 2019 Read 505 Times

Thirteen universities are to receive funding to boost the capacity and quality of their research in topics ranging from recycling plastic to meeting the needs of an ageing society and manufacturing to agri-robotics.

The investment of £76 million is the first announced (June 13) from the Expanding Excellence in England (E3) Fund, launched last year by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: “The Expanding Excellence in England Fund reflects UKRI’s vision to enhance academic excellence, foster collaboration and increase access to new technologies.

“The first research units awarded this funding demonstrate the breadth and diversity of talent in UKRI’s portfolio, from astrobiology through to forensic linguistics and climate change, and our commitment to tackling important research questions in a changing world.”

Research England’s Director of Research, Steven Hill, said: “Research England’s investment in these units aims to strengthen the contribution of English HEIs to our society, push the frontiers of human knowledge, deliver economic impact, and create social impact by supporting our society and others to become enriched, healthier, more resilient and sustainable.

“It will also enhance the skills base and build talent in areas of research excellence where pockets of excellence exist but there is untapped potential and stimulate strategic partnerships between HEIs and other organisations outside of higher education.”

Funding for the 13 units will run for three years, starting in August 2019, allowing successful bidders time to scale up their activity and build quality.

The investments include:

£5.8m to the University of Portsmouth for a sustainable Centre for Enzyme Innovation. The centre will discover new, naturally-occurring enzymes that can break down plastics, helping the Government meet ambitious targets for recycling plastic by 2025

£4m to Sheffield Hallam University for the Lab4Living, which will use design to promote health and quality of life, with a focus on ageing and the 100-year life, helping to meet the needs of our ageing society.
 £6.3m to the University of Lincoln to create the first global centre of excellence for agri-robotics in the UK. The centre will meet increasing global demand in the agricultural industry to use robotics, autonomy and artificial intelligence to improve productivity to meet the needs of a growing population.
 £6.6m to Loughborough University for the Centre for Mathematical Cognition, which will use psychology research to design and test new teaching practices, to improve the teaching of maths and address the STEM skills gap.
£7.6m to Lancaster University for Imagination Lancaster, an interdisciplinary design centre. Design research will address a range of challenges such as the future of manufacturing and future of cities.

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