EPSRC publishes Balancing Capability results

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The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), after extensive engagement and dialogue with the research community, today published refreshed research area rationales as part of its Balancing Capability strategy.

The Council has reviewed all the research areas that form the building blocks of its portfolio and confirmed the suggested future strategies for these areas over the next five years.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said: Balancing Capability is an important tool, together with our other strategies of Accelerating Impact and Building Leadership, to help us to deliver against the goals in our Strategic Plan and the four Prosperity Outcomes (Productive, Connected, Resilient, and Healthy Nation) in our Delivery Plan.

We are committed to funding excellent research across our portfolio, and, similarly, to maintaining the right conditions for supporting the best researchers to explore their ideas. Excellence is always the primary consideration as judged by peer review. Regardless of any designation and suggested trajectory for a research area, we will continue to support the highest quality research wherever it arises.

We are in constant conversation with the academic community, finding out what is developing and where talent lies. So this exercise is not an isolated process and we remain flexible and responsive to changes and discoveries. We recognise how integral the sciences and engineering are to the country's success but we also know that resources are limited and we have to assess where we need to focus funds strategically.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have contributed to Balancing Capability, from those that have input into our Call for Evidence, with over 1,000 pieces of evidence received, to our advisory teams and networks that have helped us review this evidence and support our decision.

Each piece of evidence was considered in relation to the whole portfolio in order to make well informed decisions. Each research area is accompanied by a 'rationale' which states the reasons for the strategic direction for each research area.

The research area strategies have been developed to align with EPSRC's Delivery Plan and will help achieve a ratio, committed to by EPSRC's Council, of 60 per cent community-led and 40 per cent strategic intervention by 2021. This balance will be achieved by encouraging the research community to continue to work together, across disciplines, and to develop challenges and proposals that are less directed by topic-specific, time bound calls.

To help with planning a list of calls for 2017/18 (PDF) is available with further details to be added as plans become firmer through the main calls page of our website and through the calls alert.

EPSRC is confident that its strategies will result in the UK remaining one of the best places in the world to research, discover and innovate.

Notes for Editors:

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate.

By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture.

We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via UK Research and Innovation.

Reference: PN 09-17

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