IT's the tops for funding

May 3, 1996

Information technology, materials science and chemistry have won large slices of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's funding for research in 1996/97.

Announcing the funding for the council's 14 programme areas this week, EPSRC chief executive Richard Brook said that recommendations in the Government's Technology Foresight exercise had been "particularly important" in setting priorities.

The EPSRC budget for 1996/97 is Pounds 375 million. The council plans to spend Pounds 208.5 million on grants and just over Pounds 78 million on studentships and fellowships.

Nearly two thirds of grants will be made through the "response" programme, and go to unsolicited research proposals.

The remainder will be farmed out through the "managed" programme, where research agendas are set in consultation with users.

Information technology and science will attract Pounds 56.5 million in research funding; materials technology Pounds 51.4 million and chemistry Pounds 30.9 million. Other programme areas include the innovative manufacturing initiative (Pounds 4.6 million); mathematics (Pounds 11.4 million); the built environment (Pounds 14.7 million); physics (Pounds 21.9 million) and process engineering (Pounds 12.3 million).

The council also announced this week that it is extending its cooperative awards in its science and engineering scheme (CASE), which funds studentships for industry-led projects.

Up to now these studentships have gone to large companies because the council has found it "extremely difficult" to deal directly with small and medium firms. But now the EPSRC has appointed centres with a good knowledge of research needs of such firms in their locality to act on their behalf.

Organisations chosen include specialists in technology transfer in Canterbury, Glasgow, Cardiff and Sunderland.

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