The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is funding 12 partnerships that will train 1,250 PhD students over five years.
Business secretary Vince Cable said the funding would “safeguard” Britain’s reputation as a world leader in the life sciences.
Awards of between £4 million and £15 million have been made to the groups, which include more than 30 universities in total, as well as research institutes and trusts. The partnerships will train the next generation of scientists that can help tackle major challenges in agriculture, food, industrial biotechnology, bioenergy and health.
Announcing the funding at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, Mr Cable was expected to say: “The UK punches far beyond its weight in science and innovation globally, which is a credit to our talented scientists and first-class universities. This new funding will safeguard Britain’s status as a world leader in life sciences and agricultural technology.”
The 12 lead institutions in the partnerships are Imperial College London, the John Innes Centre, Newcastle University, University College London and the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Warwick.
Around 30 per cent of the students will get training in agriculture and food security, 20 per cent in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy, 10 per cent in bioscience for health and the remaining 40 per cent in other areas.
Executive director of innovation and skills at the BBSRC, Celia Caulcott, said that the research council was “paving the way for an explosion in new economic sectors and bioscience that will change the way we live our lives in the 21st century”.
“To achieve this we need to maintain our leading position in global bioscience by ensuring that the next generation of scientists have the best training and skills. The next generation of bioscientists are our future and we must invest in them now,” she added.