The government has announced the UK science facilities that will get £213m to enable researchers to respond to global challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change.
The money will pay for new equipment including ‘supercomputers’ in Cardiff to track infectious diseases, airborne sensors in London to monitor greenhouse gas emissions and a floating offshore wind testing lab at the University of Plymouth.
The funding is part of government’s £300m commitment in its Research and Development (R&D) Roadmap published in July, which committed to making the UK the best place in the world for scientists and researchers to live and work.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said the investment will equip the UK’s leading scientists, universities and research institutes with new state-of-the-art equipment.
This will help the UK respond to major challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“The response from UK scientists and researchers to coronavirus has been nothing short of phenomenal,” she said.
“We need to match this excellence by ensuring scientific facilities are truly world class.”
The £213m pot includes £27m for researchers at 43 of the UK’s Medical Research Institutes providing them with access and upgrades to equipment including ultra-high performing computers and microscopes.
The aim is to enable researchers to detect and model disease in more detail, helping the UK respond to COVID-19 and boosting resilience for future pandemics, as well as other diseases such as cancer and dementia.
The investment will also provide researchers with facilities to test innovative technologies to cut carbon emissions, such as the floating offshore wind turbine testing facility.
It will also fund autonomous marine robotics trialled in Southampton to monitor the health of the southern oceans.
Other facilities to receive financial backing includes a ‘blast diagnostics’ laboratory at the University of Sheffield, which will test the UK’s ability to respond to the use of explosives in terrorist attacks.
The £213 million investment, delivered through the government’s World Class Labs funding scheme and made through seven of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) research councils, covers investments in all disciplines from physical sciences to arts and humanities.
Professor Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI said:
“Research and innovation infrastructure is key to delivering the government’s R&D Roadmap, with some of the most innovative ideas with transformative R&D potential requiring access to leading-edge infrastructures.
“This includes national research facilities, equipment and instrumentation, networks of technologies and digital infrastructures, plus knowledge-based resources such as collections and museums”.
A full list of the new investments is available here