Report demonstrates impact of EPSRC-supported research and training

Supplementary content information

Cover of Impact Report 2016-17 publication

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has published its Impact Report for 2016/17.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive and Executive Chair Designate, said: This Impact Report provides a valuable demonstration of how EPSRC's sustained, long-term support has contributed to a wide range of significant advancements in engineering, mathematics and the physical sciences, and led to tangible societal and economic impact.

The report provides a snapshot of the wide range of impacts generated by EPSRC-supported researchers and doctoral students, highlighting how they work in partnerships across disciplines and sectors, and often with industry partners, to demonstrate the UK's leadership across the discovery and innovation landscape.

The report explores several themes, including how EPSRC's investments align to the organisation's Delivery Plan and its four Prosperity Outcomes (Connected, Healthy, Productive and Resilient); how EPSRC helps to maintain the UK's research leadership in Engineering and Physical Sciences disciplines; and how EPSRC research is at the heart of discovery and innovation.

It also sets out how building the skills that the UK needs for its prosperity, and supporting the research leaders of tomorrow, is key to EPSRC's strategy; the international impact of EPSRC-supported research; and the organisation's commitment to supporting cutting-edge research and its translation through research infrastructure funding.

The report includes a diverse range of case studies, detailing how sustained support has led to significant scientific advancements and innovations.

Highlights include:

A Connected, Resilient, Healthy and Productive nation:

The report showcases how sustained EPSRC support has led to advances in the enablement of high speed internet; the building of critical capabilities in areas of energy generation efficiency, storage and distribution; the delivery of new technologies in areas such as medical imaging to improve our ability to predict, diagnose and treat disease; and the development of advanced lasers to improve high value manufacturing (pages 5-12).

Scientific breakthrough: First reported liquid with permanent pores

The invention of the first 'porous' liquid by EPSRC-supported researchers at Queen's University Belfast was published in the journal Nature and generated large amounts of publicity. EPSRC is continuing to support the group as they look to progress their research (page 16).

Businesses of the future

EPSRC-supported research has resulted in around 670 spinouts in the last 35 years, which are spread across the UK and are relevant to a wide variety of industrial sectors (page 18).

EPSRC-supported student generates new insights into dental healthcare

Nina Vyas, a student at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Physical Sciences for Health at the University of Birmingham, has generated new insights that are being taken forward with instrument manufacturers to produce tools to remove plaque more effectively, thereby preventing cavities and gum disease (page 21).

Researchers develop world's first quantum secured encryption technology

KETS Quantum Security, a company co-founded by EPSRC-supported researchers and students at the University of Oxford, has developed the world's first quantum secured encryption technology in an integrated platform, allowing for the strongest-possible digital encryption (page 22).

World-first in safe removal of arsenic from water supply

Professor Bhaskar Sen Gupta from Heriot-Watt University, working with the Bangladesh Green Energy Foundation, has opened the world's first fully autonomous, solar-powered plant to safely remove arsenic from the water supply. The plant, in the Comilla district of Bangladesh, is now ensuring a safe supply to 200 schoolchildren and within a year will serve an additional 800 members of the community.

Reference: PN 14-18

EPSRC At A Glance

A selection of facts and figures, available on page 4 (PDF page 6) of the EPSRC Impact Report 2016/17:

A selection of facts and figures, available on page 4 (PDF page 6) of the EPSRC Impact Report 2016/17