Three of the government’s ‘eight great technologies’ seen as having the biggest potential for UK growth are to receive an £85m investment for capital equipment.
Speaking at the Global Intelligent Systems conference in London, David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, announced the results of a call for proposals issued by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Funding will be made available to more than 20 universities across the UK to support and strengthen existing research in the areas of robotics and autonomous systems, advanced materials, and grid-scale energy storage.
In a statement, Willetts said, ‘For Britain to get ahead in the global race we have to back emerging technologies and ensure our universities have the latest equipment. This capital investment will help scientists make new discoveries and take their research through to commercial success. It will drive growth and support the government’s industrial strategy.’
The investment will underpin key sectors for the UK economy, including automotive, manufacturing, aerospace, energy, and healthcare.
Robotics and autonomous systems will receive an EPSRC grant of £25m with additional funding contributions of £8.4m from higher education institutions and £6m from industrial partners
Advanced materials will receive an EPSRC grant of £30m with additional funding contributions of £11.7m from higher education institutions and £5.5m from industrial partners; and grid-scale energy storage will receive £30m in EPSRC funding with additional funding contributions of £9.8m from higher education institutions and £5.8m from industry.
Prof David Delpy, EPSRC chief executive, said: ‘The successful bids will build capability in areas that are vital for the country and where exciting research is already being carried out. Developing new ways to storing energy, creating new materials for manufacturing and other industries, and increasing our understanding of how autonomous systems communicate, learn and work with humans.’
Set to benefit from today’s announcement are micro-engineering facilities at Imperial College London for the development of miniaturised robots for surgery and targeted therapy. These robots are expected to have impact on minimally invasive procedures including gastrointestinal, urological, neuro, cardiac, endovascular, paediatric, and orthopaedic surgeries.