Major boost to support outstanding thinkers of tomorrow
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The next generation of research and innovation leaders will be supported through a major £179 million investment announced today Friday 6 March 2020.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that forty-one universities will host Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Four pilot projects will also explore ways to widen career paths into doctoral training, including attracting more people currently working in business.
The DTP investment was announced alongside the first nine Stephen Hawking Fellows, who will continue Professor Stephen Hawking’s legacy by furthering our understanding of the universe and communicating the wonders of science to the public, and funding to improve and boost uptake of science subjects at school.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “From Ada Lovelace to Stephen Hawking, our scientists and the discoveries they have made have pushed the boundaries, improving our healthcare and transforming the way we live, work and travel.
“Today’s funding will support the talented people we have in this country to study these vital subjects, develop technologies for the future and support the UK’s status as a science superpower.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Making sure that the next generation has the scientific skills to meet the world’s needs – from developing green technologies to curing illnesses – couldn’t be more important.
“That’s why we continue to invest in science programmes in our schools and ensure that anyone, regardless of their background, can participate.
“Girls now make up just over half of A level entries for the three core science subjects but there is more we can do so we will fund research to better understand how we can improve girls’ physics A level participation.”
DTPs are flexible investments in doctoral training at universities which support postgraduates to conduct research across the physical sciences, mathematical sciences and engineering. The value of awards is based on the EPSRC research portfolio held by each university.
EPSRC supports about 11,000 doctoral students through DTPs, Centres for Doctoral Training and Industrial Cooperative Awards in Science and Technology (ICASE) studentships.
After completing PhDs, around 45% of engineering and physical sciences doctoral students go on to be employed in business or public sector, with 35% of those working in academia and 20% using this knowledge and skill in training or working in other sectors.
Previous investments in DTPs have resulted in outstanding advances from the research projects. For example, Joe Matthews, a postgraduate researcher funded through Newcastle University’s DTP has developed new methods to predict the location of road collision hotspots.
University of Bath student George Williams was supported by the university’s DTP to collaborate with Public Health England to develop a hydrogel-based wound dressing which could be used to control infections in wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers.
EPSRC Executive Chair, Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, said: “Doctoral training is a vital element of the UK’s research and innovation system, providing thousands of people with the skills they need to succeed and deliver benefits for the UK.
“EPSRC’s Doctoral Training Partnerships provide an opportunity for universities to support ideas from outstanding research students, to explore emerging research areas and to support universities’ research priorities.”
Four Doctoral Mobility Pilots have been announced to test new approaches to attracting and supporting people from non-academic backgrounds to undertake doctoral study. They aim to support social and career mobility by reducing barriers to entry to doctoral training from different groups and providing opportunities for lifelong learning.
Driving productivity for sustainable growth - An industry-focused engineering doctoral training project for leaders in sustainable technology
Led by: Brunel University London
Working with industrial partners including Constellium and TWI, the project aims to foster sustainability leadership in the UK as part of the move to Net Zero by developing future cohorts of engineers with the skills, experience and knowledge to drive research and innovation in sustainable technologies.
An Industrial Mobility and Doctoral Training Programme in Data Science and Engineering
Led by: Queen Mary University of London
The project will take an innovative approach to expand the number of scientists and engineers with data-science and engineering research skills in the UK economy, providing doctoral students with access to world-class researchers and facilities and allowing them to apply methods in the industrial settings of partners including IBM, BT and the BBC.
Defence and Security DTP Mobility Pilot
Led by: University of Southampton
The project will pilot a novel flexible modular doctoral training approach to reach the pool of future skilled research leaders from current and former defence and security staff, armed services personnel and police. Research will focus on areas relevant to defence and security including cybersecurity and control systems for autonomous vehicles such as drones.
Leadership and Excellence in Circular, Resource-efficient, Sustainable Manufacturing
Led by: University of York
The pilot will help UK businesses to transform their current chemical and biochemical manufacturing practices so they are circular, resource efficient and sustainable through re- and up-skilling of research skills of their employees.
Notes to Editors:
For further information contact James Giles-Franklin, UKRI External Communications, on 07702 611906.