Latest winners for investment fund announced

Seven university, business and charity partnerships have been announced as winners of the second round of the Research Partnership Investment Fund.

November 3, 2012

The new projects bring the total number of collaborations funded to 14, ten of which involve Russell Group universities.

They include a £38 million partnership between the University of Manchester, the Christie hospital and Cancer Research UK to build the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and a £34 million project between the University of Nottingham and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline to build the Centre for Sustainable Chemistry.

University College London will also benefit from the fund - building the £85 million Centre for Children's Rare Disease Research with Great Ormond Street Hospital - while Queen's University Belfast will use funding to support the £32 million Centre for Experimental Medicine in collaboration with four charitable partners.

The fund will also contribute £35 million to a £150 million partnership between Imperial College London and real estate fund Voreda to build the Research and Translation Hub, part of the university's major new campus in the west of London.

Outside of the Russell Group, Brunel University was successful in securing funds to build the National Research Centre for Structural Integrity as part of a £60 million partnership with companies including technology engineering firm TWI.

Meanwhile Swansea University secured funding to develop the Energy Safety Research Institute as part of a £38 million project with BP and Tata Steel Europe.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England, which administers the fund, has said it will shortly issue a further call for a remaining £80 million of public investment, and both new and resubmitted bids will be eligible.

The fund was first launched with £100 million in May 2012, but the government increased the value of the fund to £300 million last month after receiving a large number of high calibre bids.

Under the scheme universities can bid for between £10 million and £35 million from the fund for capital projects. Industry, charities or philanthropists must also contribute at least twice that figure from their own funds.

According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, universities are also contributing over £70 million from their own resources, bringing the eventual overall value of the projects to around £1 billion.

David Willetts, minister for universities and science, said it was fantastic that businesses and charities were "queuing up to collaborate with our world-class universities".

"They want to work together to deliver innovation, commercialisation and growth, which will help make sure the UK competes and thrives in the global race.

"The winning projects will tackle the key issues we face - like fighting disease, ensuring energy efficiency and improving infrastructure - for the benefit of all," he said.

Meanwhile Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, said that the fund was a "very welcome opportunity" to harness the UK's immense research capability.

But she warned that it was important that investment in research facilities and infrastructure be sustained in the medium and long term.

"As our global competitors - especially in Asia - pump billions into their research bases, it is increasingly vital that the government demonstrates its commitment to maintaining the UK's place as a global leader in science and research," she said.

According to estimates by the Campaign for Science and Engineering, the government's 2010 spending review, which made major cuts to capital budgets, means there is still a "£1 billion deficit" in research spending.

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