Funding for UK research and innovation projects to create high-value jobs

Posted on 11 Aug 2020 by Jonny Williamson

Ambitious research and innovation projects across the UK are set to receive up to £50,000 each of government funding, supporting their aim to create high value jobs, upskill local workers and boost economic growth.

The 17 projects, running from Glasgow and Belfast, through to Nottingham and parts of Cornwall, are expected to help the UK to respond to some of the world’s most pressing challenges – from climate change to the production of medicines.

Projects include heating homes and businesses in Glasgow using energy from disused mines, digitising the UK construction sector so it is safer and more productive, researching quicker ways of diagnosing cancer, and accelerating building of large-scale offshore wind farms in the South West of England.

Through the second round of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Strength in Places Fund, each project will be able to apply for a further longer-term investment of £10-50m later this year if the early stages of development are successful.

It follows the announcement by the government in June this year of the first wave of the fund, which saw seven projects across the UK benefit from more than £400m of government and industry funding to develop their research and innovation projects.

Projects each receiving up to £50,000 of early stage government funding include:

HotScot, led by the University of Strathclyde, aims to provide low-cost, low carbon heat to Scottish homes and businesses by extracting energy from disused, flooded mines in Glasgow.

By overseeing three new geothermal minewater projects, the consortium aims to deliver economic growth equivalent to £303m and around 9,800 jobs across the Central Belt of Scotland;

South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator, led by the offshore renewable energy research company, Wave Hub.

This will build on Cornwall and Plymouth’s world-renowned excellence in offshore renewables business and research, to fast track the building of large-scale floating offshore wind farms in the Celtic Sea from 2025 onwards.

This will enable the region to make a decisive contribution to Britain’s offshore wind target of 40 Gigawatts by 2030, and also target a five-fold increase in Britain’s offshore wind exports;

The International Centre for Connected Construction, led by Northumbria University, which will bring together experts from industry, academia and the public sector to create, test, and bring to market new technologies involving 3D modelling, smart cities and cloud computing.

This will help engineers to tackle potential problems before building has even begun, ultimately speeding up construction and improving safety on building sites. The project aims to create 500 jobs across the North East, making the construction industry cleaner, safer, and more productive; and

Trans- Mid, led by the University of Nottingham, which will partner universities with transport technology businesses, as well as local suppliers to the vehicle, aerospace and rail industries to develop new green products, with the aim of establishing the Midlands as a Supercluster for net zero transport.

The project will form part of the UK’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, creating thousands of new and upskilled jobs.

The Northern Ireland Precision Biomarkers and Therapeutics Consortium, a consortium led by Queen’s University Belfast, will bring partners from industry and academia together to develop new, more cost-effective targeted drugs and antibodies, as well as researching new, quicker ways of diagnosing cancer.

The long term aim is to attract and secure highly-skilled jobs to the region while making Northern Ireland’s life and health science sector more productive. 

This funding forms part of the government’s ambitious commitment to increase public spending in research and development (R&D) by £22bn by 2024/25, putting the UK on track to reach 2.4% of GDP being spent on R&D across the UK economy by 2027.

It also follows the recent publication of the government’s R&D Roadmap, which sets out plans to drive the country’s economic recovery through research and development and level up UK regions.

*Header image courtesy of Depositphotos