Southampton University has emerged as the UK's third biggest earner of research grants in the engineering and physical sciences, ahead of Oxford University.
Cambridge University, Imperial College London and Southampton head the latest league table of funding, published by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. All three institutions have attracted well over £100 million in grants from the research council.
Joe Hammond, dean of the Southampton's faculty of engineering, science and mathematics, said: "Our great success in attracting funding reflects the leading research standing of the faculty of engineering, science and mathematics."
A key factor in Southampton's rise up the funding table has been the securing of two lucrative "portfolio partnerships" from the research council.
The partnership awards are allocated on the basis of the track record of researchers as demonstrated by past grants, rather than the use of the usual peer-review methods in which other academics judge proposals.
This year, two research groups from Southampton took home half the £24 million made available in the second round of the EPSRC's scheme.
David Payne, director of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre, which secured one of the grants, said: "The concept behind the research portfolios is to give the research direction back to the researchers, without constantly having to go back to the EPSRC for bits of money.
"With the (standard) application success rates at about 20 per cent, it's incredibly difficult to have any sort of vision with an integrated research group such as ours when you only have a 20 per cent chance of pursuing it."
He added: "In general, the research community enormously welcomes this initiative and it's responding extremely well."
Clive Hayter, a programme manager at the EPSRC, said: "Portfolio partnerships consolidate existing grant funding for groups that have a proven, sustained and substantive track record. They remove the administrative burden and afford greater flexibility to the researchers."
Of the top three in the EPSRC funding table, Southampton is the highest per grant earner, with an average of £622,000 per grant. It is also highest per grant earner of the 19 major research-intensive universities that make up the Russell Group.
Top ten EPSRC grant earners
Where the research council has put its money:
Total for the sector
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