EPSRC report shows how research helps make the UK successful

Supplementary content information

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), today published its impact report for 2015/2016.

The report sets out how EPSRC and the researchers it supports are working in partnership, across disciplines, sectors and industries and gives examples of the impacts they make on the lives and prosperity of the country.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said; This latest impact report is a valuable document because it shows the breadth and diversity of the research EPSRC funds and draws attention to the benefits engineering and physical sciences bring to the lives of UK citizens.

Often these positive impacts go unnoticed because they are connected to processes that go on behind the scenes or they are in areas that enable other areas of science and technology to move ahead. However, these are important stories to tell as they inform the public and can also inspire tomorrow's engineers and scientists.

The report, "Engineering and Physical Sciences for a successful nation" (PDF), lays out how investments align to EPSRC's strategic goals and deliver outcomes, as set out in its 2015 Strategic Plan and Delivery Plan.

It also pulls out highlights that show where long-term investments in the UK's research base and researchers have led to significant scientific advancements and innovations.

Examples include:

From 'Stoner Criterion' by a theoretical physicist to new magnetic materials

  • A study led by an EPSRC-funded research team at the University of Leeds and published in the journal Nature in August 2015, demonstrated for the first time how to generate magnetism in metals that are not naturally magnetic. The research is a key step towards creating a new breed of magnets needed for future technologies such as quantum computers.

Investing in a diverse portfolio of research relevant to key industrial sectors

  • A £20 million investment in 2016 in manufacturing hubs to address major the long-term challenges facing the UK's manufacturing industries and capture opportunities from emerging research. The investment is enhanced by £14 million from the universities and a further £58 million from industry.

Railway Track for the 21st Century

  • 'Railway Track for the 21st Century', a £3.1 million, five-year research programme showed how to make improvements in how railway track is designed, built and maintained.

The Universities of Southampton, Birmingham and Nottingham with industrial partners including Network Rail, London Underground and Balfour Beatty, the research into landslip prevention and enhanced track stability has shown potential annual savings estimated at between £13-20 million from improved design, as well as big reductions in the time taken for the work.

Outcomes include a saving of £1.5 million in costs on one project; yearly savings of £500,000 a year; and a 14 per cent reduction in the risk of trains running into landslides.

From fundamental research to global leading fuel cell technology

  • Imperial College London research underlying Ceres Power's solid oxide fuel cell technology was funded by the EPSRC-led Research Councils UK Energy Programme.

Further funding from DTI/Innovate UK lead to Ceres Power developing a combined heat and power unit for generating cheap, reliable and low carbon electricity.

In partnership with British Gas and Bord Gais, the wall-mounted unit replaces conventional central heating boilers, reducing energy bills by 25 per cent and saving around 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per annum per household.

Technology predicting silicon chip failure reduces delays and cuts costs

  • Founded in 2010 based on more than 20 years of EPSRC-funded research in modelling and simulation of advanced transistors/circuits for semiconductor microchips, University of Glasgow spin-out Gold Standard Simulations was acquired by the world's 15th largest software company, US-based Synopsys Inc, in 2016. The company's technology is helping the US$300 billion a year semiconductor industry to reduce time and cost from silicon chip failure.

Apple buy-out worth US$100 million

  • Technology giant Apple bought VocalIQ, a University of Cambridge spin-out formed to bring over ten years of EPSRC-supported artificial intelligence research to market, in a deal estimated to be worth up to US$100 million in 2015.

£10 million for new maths centres to tackle life-threatening diseases

  • A £10 million investment in five new research centres around the UK, that will explore how mathematics and statistics can help clinicians to tackle serious health challenges such as cancer, heart disease and antibiotic resistant bacteria. The centres will enable mathematicians and statisticians to work closely with healthcare planners, clinicians, policymakers and industry partners across the UK, to deliver high quality, multidisciplinary research that will help overcome some of the big challenges facing the NHS.

Job share fellowship supports flexibility to promote diversity

  • In order to promote diversity and provide the right support to encourage talent with flexible processes, the EPSRC has, for the first time, awarded a £1.7 million fellowship on a 'job share' arrangement.

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 12-17


Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: EPSRC Press Office
Telephone: 01793 444404