Academics in universities will be able to compete for an extra £20 million a year in grants for environmental research under funding reforms by the Natural Environment Research Council, writes Zoe Corbyn. The changes, which are detailed in a new five-year strategy from the council, will see part of the funding stream previously only available to NERC-funded research centres opened up for competition to universities.
Alan Thorpe, NERC's chief executive, told The Times Higher that a total pot of about £80 million a year would be up for grabs across the NERC centres and universities for directed research.
Professor Thorpe said the idea was to encourage NERC centres and universities to work together by putting in collaborative proposals. "We are hoping to have consortia of centres and universities bidding."
Andrew Willmott, director of NERC's Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, welcomed the changes. "It is a chance to be able to work with other NERC centres and universities and we believe we will be able to prosper," he said.
The transition into open competition will occur gradually between 2009 and 2014.