Science minister David Hunt has announced the expansion of a Government scheme encouraging collaboration between industry and researchers.
The Realising Our Potential Award, known as Ropa, launched last year originally involved the Medical Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. It will now also cover the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council.
The Ropa initiative started with Pounds 12 million over three years. This could double when the science budget allocations to the research councils are announced in a few weeks.
The scheme is meant to support researchers already working closely with industry and commerce on basic or strategic projects. An award allows the researcher to undertake separate research of their own choosing.
The EPSRC has awarded more than 100 Ropas in areas such as materials, communications and chemical processing.
The BBSRC and MRC each made more than 40 Ropa awards last year.