Pounds 67m science cash for priorities

February 10, 1995

The Office of Science and Technology has earmarked Pounds 67 million, 5 per cent of the total science budget of Pounds 1,282 million, to "priority initiatives" including collaboration between scientists and industry and targeted areas of research. The allocation forms part of the OST's distribution of funds to the research councils.

Another big winner is the research councils' Ropa scheme for funding researchers already working closely with industry, which will get an extra Pounds 15 million to bring its outlay to Pounds 22 million in 1995/96. Pounds 6 million will be made available for research proposals in physics, mathematics and biology. In addition, the university-industry collaborative programme, Link, is to receive an additional Pounds 3 million. Together with contributions from other Government departments and industry, Pounds 12 million will be available for the scheme, says the OST.

The industrial quota CASE scheme, which places studentships in the hands of industrialists and which was piloted by all the research councils will be made permanent and will account for 300 of the total CASE awards in 1995/96. Strategic areas of work to receive further support include genome research, for which an additional Pounds 4 million is to be allocated to the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, bringing their spending to Pounds 12 million a year.

The two councils are also being allocated Pounds 2.5 million for immunology research. Other targeted research areas include bioprocessing innovation projects and plant product research, each attracting Pounds 1 million for the BBSRC. The Natural Environment Research Council is to be made responsible for a Pounds 1 million initiative aimed at developing research underpinning for waste management methods and processes. The Economic and Social Research Council is being provided with Pounds 600,000 to back research into the human-computer interface to help improve interactions between computers and people.

The OST is also earmarking Pounds 3 million for sophisticated equipment for scientists and engineers. The OST wants industry to provide matching funds and believes that this will result in additional new equipment for universities worth Pounds 12 million during 1995/96.

Dai Rees, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said that he welcomed the additional funds to expand and accelerate the council genome programme. Tom Blundell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council said he was "very pleased" with his council's settlement. "The opportunties arising from research funded by the BBSRC have been recognised and supporte," he said.

Richard Brookes, chief executive of the EPSRC, said that he was very pleased to note that at a time when public expenditure is under pressure, funding in cash terms has been broadly mantained.

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