Matchmakers invited to share £100 million research partnership pot

Universities will be able to bid for up to £35 million in matched public funding for major research capital projects as part of a new programme, the government has announced.

May 12, 2012

The £100 million Research Partnership Investment Fund, announced by chancellor George Osborne in this year’s Budget, opens for expressions of interest by applicants on 14 May.

The funding, to be administered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, will be made available to universities able to demonstrate that they can match or exceed that amount through donations from businesses, charities or philanthropists.

Ministers hope the co-investment, which the government will fund to the tune of at least £10 million per project, will spark “significant long-term research partnerships” between the bidders and donors.

Universities are required initially to submit expressions of interest; those who are short-listed will be invited to work up full proposals.

Hefce has appointed an independent assessment panel to advise it on selection. The panel will be chaired by Peter Saraga, the former director of Philips Research Laboratories and former vice-president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Applications will be judged on value for money and “how much they build on existing strong research capability”. Successful bidders are expected to be announced in the autumn.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, suggested that eligible projects could include anything from the purchase of high-cost equipment to “stimulating the development of a new research campus”.

“Collaboration between universities, charities and industry is vital for our economy, and attracts significant private investment in our world-leading research base,” he said.

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