Research funding now an annual event

Almost £80 million of leading edge research equipment will go to UK universities and colleges this year. And from now they can expect similar funding every year.

The investment is a result of the JREI (Joint Research Equipment Initiative) set up in 1996. Although some of the money comes from national education funding and research councils, almost £45 million is from external sponsors.

Baroness Blackstone, minister for education and employment said: ‘I am very glad that universities and colleges have been so successful in winning funding in partnership with industry and other sponsors. The JREI is a significant help in meeting the deficiencies which have developed in recent years, as identified by the Dearing Committee of Inquiry.’

John Battle, minister of state for science, energy and industry also commended the initiative: ‘The JREI is a fine example of the success that can come from partnership between the science base and industry.’ He also announced that the Research Councils had made an extra £3 million available for the JREI in 1997, bringing their contribution to £8 million.

JREI will fund a crystal orientation microscope at Birmingham University for material investigations including surface engineering, superconductors, electrochemistry, fracture and fatigue. Other funding goes on a scanning electron microscope at Heriot Watt to be used in a range of projects including improving oil and gas recovery; to Southampton University for acoustical and signal processing equipment to produce virtual images; and to around 250 projects in 55 institutions.