Major funding boost for mathematical sciences

Supplementary content information

Woman surrounded by mathematical notation

Dr. Anastasia Sylaidi, Imperial College London (Hand of Time, Neurotechnology Lab)

As part of a package of announcements today, the Government has announced additional funding for mathematical sciences.

Major funding announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson today, Monday 27 January 2020, will provide a significant boost to the UK’s world-leading mathematical sciences community, increasing support for this key discipline and increasing the pool of trained mathematicians.

The additional funding of up to £300 million will more than double the current funding for the mathematical sciences delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The mathematical sciences are a key discipline in their own right in addition to being crucial for the advancement of all areas of science and technology, underpinning a wide range of discoveries across the research spectrum from health and security to the environment.

For example, EPSRC-supported maths researchers at the University of Bath are working with the Met Office to improve severe weather event forecasts which have an annual UK economic value of £600 million.

An EPSRC-supported team at Imperial College London is modelling the behaviour of drug-resistant and drug-susceptible bacteria to inform personalised treatment that could tackle antibiotic resistance, which could lead to diseases currently considered minor becoming untreatable and potentially fatal.

The funding announced today will reach across all mathematical disciplines, from pure mathematics to statistics, and builds on UKRI’s aspiration to enhance and modernise support for the researchers it supports.

It includes:

  • £19 million pa additional funding for PhD studentships, doubling current funding, moving to 4-year studentships as standard and offering 5-year funding for research associates to compete with the US and Europe.
  • £34 million pa additional funding for career pathways and new research projects, including multi-institutional projects and programmes. This new funding will come with more flexibility on the number and length of fellowships and will not be ring-fenced between sub-disciplines, to respond to the nature of candidate applications each year; and with the freedom to grant small amounts for initial research and early-stage idea generation.
  • £7 million pa additional funding for new PhDs/research fellows at the Heilbronn Institute (Bristol), and funding to increase participants/workshops by a third at each of the Isaac Newton Institute (Cambridge) and International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (Edinburgh).

UKRI will engage with the mathematics community to consider the best approach to attracting diverse, international talent. UKRI will develop an Advanced Mathematics programme within the EPSRC Mathematical Sciences programme to implement the investments announced today.