Realising the benefits of Government investments

Realising the benefits of government investments in Grand Challenges

The Government recognises the importance of science and innovation investments in driving productivity across the UK, for example, our investment in Quantum Technologies. This has partly been expressed in a number of major Grand Challenge infrastructure announcements which EPSRC is helping to deliver in line with approved business cases:

  • The Alan Turing Institute

    One of the greatest opportunities and threats facing businesses, government and researchers today is Big Data. The Alan Turing Institute (TATI) was announced by the Chancellor in March 2014 and the Institute formally came into being at the end of March 2015. TATI will be the UK National Institute for Data Science and help secure the UK as a world leader by carrying out a programme of internationally leading research, associated PhD training and carrying out or facilitating an appropriate range of translational activities.

    The Institute is developing the capability to provide the UK with a new flexible and responsive capability in a fast moving field where success often results from the unexpected interplay of ideas from different research and application areas. It will result in new research and a route for knowledge sharing in the key disciplines of data science and promote skills development and uptake of new technologies across a range of application domains. It will also catalyse more effective networking and new collaborations between industry, academic researchers and policy makers.

    Additional benefits included technically informed advice to policy makers, better links at a national level between other investments in data analytics and algorithms, and increased UK influence on the international agenda.

    EPSRC coordinated the delivery of The Alan Turing Institute and has a seat on the Board alongside the five founding universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Warwick and UCL. The Institute is being funded over five years with £42 million from the UK government and additional funding contributed from other partners. TATI is headquartered at The British Library, at the heart of London’s knowledge quarter. The first Scientific Director of the Institute is Professor Andrew Blake.

  • The Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials

    Future growth in manufacturing is fundamental to the UK economy. To compete on a global stage UK manufacturing must be based on advanced techniques (advanced manufacturing) and must utilise the range of advanced materials. The Sir Henry Royce Institute, as a national Institute, will address the gap in the UK innovation chain allowing the iterative design of advanced materials for various applications, at speed and reasonable cost, reducing the time-scale to translate discoveries into applications and products, generating UK economic growth.

    Research in advanced materials is an area of national strength and is the critical component to ensure the full economic benefit for aerospace, oil and gas, offshore wind, construction, nuclear, automotive, life sciences, and agriculture technology. UK businesses that depend on the production/processing of materials represent 15% of UK GDP have a turnover of approximately £170bn and exports of £50bn.

    EPSRC is working with the Universities of Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London, together with the National Nuclear Laboratory and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy as the delivery partner for the UK government’s investment of £235 million in the Institute.

  • The UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities

    UKCRIC will enable the UK to develop a world class national infrastructure capability combining physical and social sciences and engaging all scales of government, industry, academia and end users at a sufficiently meaningful scale to de-risk, help prioritise and provide evidence for future national infrastructure investments. It will result in significant direct and indirect societal and economic benefits to UK cities and to the country overall.

    Emerging plans are for UKCRIC to address research into issues such as investment in rail systems, roads and flood and water management; and employ smart sensors and systems to generate open and big data for optimising the use of assets and networks. In the longer term, UKCRIC will help develop new materials, new techniques and novel technologies. Overall, it will build understanding of how to make the systems of systems that constitutes the nation’s infrastructure more resilient to extreme events and more adaptable to changing circumstances and how it can more affordable, accessible and useable services to the whole UK population.

    EPSRC is working with the 14 university partners in this Collaboratorium as the delivery partner for the UK government’s investment of £138 million.

  • The Institute for Physical Sciences (sometimes referred to as the Rosalind Franklin Institute)

    The proposed Institute of Physical Sciences will be a multi-institutional, national centre of excellence bringing together engineers, physical scientists, life scientists and industry to focus on high-risk, long-term research and development challenges across the interface between engineering and physical sciences and the life sciences.

    The focus of the Institute on developing next generation technologies and therapeutics, along with the physical co-location of academic and industrial researchers at the Institute, will enable the rapid translation of research into practice and products, accelerating impact.

    EPSRC is working with the University of Oxford and other partners to finalise the business case for the Institute.

  • National Nuclear Users Facility

    We will deliver increased capability within the National Nuclear User Facility to ensure that the UK develops world leading advanced solutions to the challenges faced by the nuclear industry, guaranteeing that our nuclear industry operates safely and that new nuclear builds maximise the best available technology to provide safe, low-cost and reliable energy production for the UK.

  • Flagship NMR Facilities

    We will deliver world-leading high-field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) facilities, in partnership with colleagues from BBSRC, MRC and STFC, to support research that will provide invaluable understanding and maintain UK leadership across a wide range of fields such as disease diagnosis, chemical engineering and new materials.

  • Cavendish Laboratory
  • Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT)
  • Quantum Technologies Programme

We will ensure that these investments are integrated with our portfolio to bring together, in complimentary ways, research, training and the development of leaders. The recurrent resource needed to get the best from these investments will be available through competitive peer review.

We will seek opportunities for securing additional investment of this nature, whilst looking to ensure that the core principle of excellence is safeguarded.

Our Partnership with Government

The Science and Innovation budget is one of the most powerful policy-making and innovation tools the UK has to help government deliver its policies. It affects every government department, and has the potential to:

  • support delivery of the UK's Productivity Plan
  • create efficiencies in government
  • transform large public services - like the NHS - increasing efficiency and effectiveness and
  • identify where it is best to invest.

Areas of potential transformation include financial stability and growth, health and ageing, clean, safe, affordable energy, infrastructure and transport, crime reduction.

We already have established strategic partnerships with some departments, and will aim to build our working relationships with other departments where our research strengths and priorities align and contribute most closely to their own policy objectives. We will facilitate, bringing together those who can identify and articulate the challenges for the nation with those who can develop technological solutions.

In this Delivery Plan, we will

  • Build new, and maintain current, strategic relationships with CSAs and other key contacts within the departments
  • Act as a broker to improve routes for researchers to engage with policy makers

Expected outcomes - By the end of the Delivery Plan we will have

  • Increased and more effective routes for EPSRC-supported research and researchers to inform government policy
  • Ensured that Government departments look to EPSRC to connect them to the research and researchers who can help them achieve their policy objectives