Walport puts forward plan for northern research institute

The government’s chief scientific adviser has proposed that a new national research institute be established in the north of England.

September 11, 2014

Chancellor George Osborne welcomed the proposal for the National Institute for Materials Research and Innovation, which will build on the region’s expertise in materials science.

The decision on whether to proceed with the institute or not will be given in Mr Osborne’s  Autumn Statement, due in December.

Sir Mark Walport, the chief scientific adviser, came up with the idea in response to a speech made by the Chancellor in June during which Mr Osborne highlighted the importance of scientific innovation in driving economic recovery in the north of England.

Sir Mark began working with northern universities to come up with a proposal. “For proposals to be successful in strengthening the UK’s academic and industrial base we must build on our existing excellence in research,” he said.

He added: “This proposal for a National Institute for Materials Research and Innovation is based in the north but has national scope, integrating strengths across the UK in academia and industry, and must be able to operate at a scale that no one university can achieve alone.”

Mr Osborne said that the “exciting” proposal would put the north of England “at the centre of the search for the new materials of the future”.

“This is another big step in delivering our plan for the ‘Northern Powerhouse’. Science is at the heart of the economic prospects for the north of England,” he said.

Sir Mark is now working in consultation with universities and businesses nationwide to develop the proposals.

holly.else@tesglobal.com

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Reader's comments (1)

The UK has some universities with excellent research performance in Science, Medicine and the Arts, but seemingly less obviously so for engineering/business technology R&D. That this novel proposal focuses on the intermediate Research Institute combination of successful university teams with competent CSR commercial sponsors, perhaps illustrates the kind of UK research collaboration needed to progress to market level TSB Catalyst Centre R&D support.

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