Science minister serious about radio waves

The UK’s involvement in the hi-tech world of radio waves was given a boost today with Government funding towards commercial and industrial exploitation in the field.

Science Minister Lord Sainsbury announced that a specific group would be set up to exploit the benefits from research and development of high power radio-frequency engineering.

Among the potential benefits could be to develop equipment which could be used for improved X-ray and other scanning therapies in hospitals; breaking down waste more quickly and in an environmentally friendly way; and providing more services in the information, communications and media world.

The DTI is to provide £200,000 towards setting up a Faraday Partnership, which involves universities, independent research organisations and firms for work in this area.

The Faraday Partnership will be run by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and is sponsored jointly by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) who will make up to £1m in additional research funding available.

‘Although it’s 100 years since Marconi sent the first trans-Atlantic radio message, we are only now beginning to exploit some of the properties of high-power radio waves,’ said Lord Sainsbury.

‘It will be particularly important for small and medium-sized companies as they are the ones who are currently carrying out most of the existing research and development in this field,’ he added.

The potential value to the UK economy could be as much as £1bn.

The Government is committed to setting up 24 Faraday Partnerships by2002. The establishment of the radio-frequency partnership will take the number of current partnerships up to 18.