Details of how a £350 million fund will be used to train over 3,500 postgraduate students in engineering and physical sciences, was announced yesterday by Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts.
This is the UK's largest investment in postgraduate training in engineering and physical sciences. It will fund over seventy new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), spread across 24 UK universities.
The funding, targeted at areas vital to economic growth, has been allocated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Science Minister David Willetts said:
"Scientists and engineers are vital to our economy and society. It is their talent and imagination, as well as their knowledge and skills, that inspire innovation and drive growth across a range of sectors, from manufacturing to financial services.
"I am particularly pleased to see strong partnerships between universities, industry and business among the new centres announced today. This type of collaboration is a key element of our industrial strategy and will continue to keep us at the forefront of the global science race."
A total of 1000 partners will be involved in the Centres, leveraging in around £250 million worth of support. Many of the Centres will involve research that connects to key industries and important technologies which will aid innovation and growth. A number of the other Research Councils, including the Medical Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, are also contributing towards Centres with key relevance to their fields of research. EPSRC may announce a further group of Centres if more resource can be secured.
Yesterday's announcement took place at a press conference at the top of BT Tower in London where a number of CDT Directors, students and industry representatives will be on hand to talk with media. BT is involved in seven CDTs, providing both financial and partnership support.
Paul Golby, EPSRC's Chair, said:
"Centres for Doctoral Training have already proved to be a great success and the model is popular with students, business and industry. These new centres will give the country the highly trained scientists and engineers it needs and they will be equipped with skills to move on in their careers. The standard of applications for Centres was very high and more could have been funded if we had the capacity."
Sir James Dyson, design engineer and founder of Dyson, whose firm is involved in seven CDTs, said:
"To compete internationally Britain needs to export world-beating inventions which are the result of intellectual property developed by our companies and universities. We must support British engineers and scientists at all levels, rewarding them properly for their work. This investment is heartening, but genuine research and development takes time. Continuing robust investment is required if we are to see the breakthroughs which will deliver the growth we require."
As part of the event EPSRC's CEO, Professor David Delpy and BT's Research MD, Tim Whitley will officially sign a Memorandum of Understanding to cement collaborative working.
This much closer relationship will help to ensure that long-term pre-competitive research in priority areas, which align with EPSRC and BT's strategies, delivers not just academic excellence, but high levels of economic and societal impact.