Knowledge centres

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has announced the biggest ever investment in the training of scientists and engineers in the UK.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has announced the biggest ever investment in the training of scientists and engineers in the UK.

The £250m initiative will see the creation of 44 centres training over 2,000 PhD students throughout the country. The centres will focus on the development of solutions to issues including climate change, energy, high-tech crime and Britain’s ageing population.

Professor Dave Delpy, chief executive of EPSRC, said: ‘We want to drive a modern economy and meet the challenges of tomorrow by investing in talented people and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training expand our existing training portfolio and focus on priority themes for the UK, emerging and multidisciplinary research, and greater collaboration with business.’

Support from industry and business is expected to play a key role in the initiative. The EPSRC has dedicated 17 of the new centres to industrial training, focusing on business skills that will convert research and innovation into products and services that will be of benefit to the UK.

Engineering firm Arup is a partner on one of the new EPSRC centres based at ReadingUniversity. The centre aims to create zero-carbon buildings by introducing devices such as smart meters, photovoltaics and combined heat and power systems.

Professor Jeremy Watson, global director of research at Arup, said: ‘Businesses such as Arup need a good supply of highly-qualified scientists with the right skills to further innovation in the design of sustainable towns, cities and the wider environment. They need to understand how business works and also be able to turn their best ideas into a successful business proposition.’

In addition to collaborating with industry, students will receive a formal programme of taught coursework and engage in PhD-level original research projects to enhance their technical interdisciplinary knowledge.

The EPSRC has already piloted a small number of Engineering Doctorate Centres and Doctoral Training Centres in Complexity Science, Systems Biology and at the Life Sciences Interface. The new project is hoped to build on these existing centres to establish the UK as a leading knowledge economy.