News story

£52 million for UK universities to lead pioneering research projects in engineering and the social sciences

Imperial College London and the London School of Economics (LSE) have been awarded a share of £52 million to lead cutting-edge research in biomedical engineering and the social sciences.

The universities are the first research projects to be funded in the fifth round of the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) supporting the UK’s world-leading research sector to develop and transition high quality research from ideas to real-world solutions – delivering benefits to millions around the world and helping to boost the UK economy.

Imperial’s biomedical project will look to develop new treatments for some of the most pressing healthcare problems of our time, and LSE’s project aims to give us a deeper understanding of the causes and nature of inequality around the globe and the associated social, economic and political consequences.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

Capitalising on the incredible research and innovation taking place in universities up and down the country is key to the UK’s long-term success.

The successful bids from Imperial College London and the LSE demonstrate the breadth of the UK’s scientific expertise, and are exactly the types of projects our upcoming Industrial Strategy will look to support. This announcement – along with our investment of £2 billion per year by the end of this parliament for scientific research and development – highlights our commitment to ensuring we remain at the forefront of global science.

Launched in May 2012, the UKRPIF supports higher education research to attract greater investment and strengthen the contribution of research to the UK economy. The fund is managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in collaboration with other UK higher education funding bodies. All funding proposals are assessed by an independent assessment panel to ensure value for money and real scientific benefit.

The fund has already allocated over £450 million to 32 projects which are helping to support key UK industry sectors including life sciences and healthcare, telecommunications, manufacturing and engineering, aerospace, automotive, and energy; including Cranfield University’s Aerospace Integration Research Centre; University College London’s Institute of Immunity and Transplantation; University of Oxford’s Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery and the Energy Safety Research Institute at Swansea University.

HEFCE Chief Executive Madeleine Atkins said:

These 2 projects demonstrate the role that our universities play in providing outstanding research for the benefit of the economy and society. They both bring together researchers from a range of backgrounds to pool their knowledge and expertise to create maximum benefit in biomedical engineering, and inequalities respectively.

The UKRPIF programme gives excellent value for public funding by double matching finance from external sources.

Harnessing the UK’s strengths in science and research is a priority for the government and will form a key part of the upcoming Industrial Strategy. An additional £2 billion per year for research and innovation will be invested by 2020/21 to unlock the full potential of the UK’s research base in areas such as robotics and biotechnology.

Further information

Biomedical Engineering Hub – Imperial College London – UKRPIF funding: £20 million

The Imperial College Biomedical Engineering Hub is a visionary new facility that will bring engineers, scientists and clinicians together, collaborating to develop solutions to some of the most pressing biomedical and healthcare problems of our time.

Based in the Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Research Hub on Imperial’s new White City Campus, the facility will house a clinical facility side-by-side with multidisciplinary laboratories and offices for translational research initiatives. It is designed to facilitate the seamless translation of cutting-edge research into real-world clinical solutions.

The International Inequalities Institute - London School of Economics and Political Science – UKRPIF funding: £32 million

Understanding the complex causes, nature and consequences of rising inequalities is a pressing global challenge. The risks to social cohesion, democratic systems and economic prosperity demand evidence-based interventions.

The International Inequalities Institute will become the world’s premier centre for interdisciplinary research on inequalities. It will pool and facilitate the best research, and create a generation of scholars with the complex social science tools necessary to understand current and future inequalities. Purpose-built research facilities will spark new ideas and innovative solutions, involve research users in conception, design and delivery, and bring research ideas to practical implementation.