- Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson MP opened 2 new specialist materials and high-tech robotics centres in Oxford, backed by £17 million government and sector investment; and announced new £15 million centre to train 125 apprentices in specialist engineering
- Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP also heads to Oxfordshire for summit with life science leaders to highlight the value of EU investment to UK’s £60 billion life science sector, and the risks of a vote to leave Europe
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson today (23 May 2016) opened 2 new state-of-the-art centres, worth £17 million, at the world-leading Joint European Torus (JET) site, based in Oxfordshire.
On the visit to Culham in Oxfordshire, Jo Johnson also announced a new £15 million Oxford Advanced Skills Centre, which will train 125 apprentices in specialist engineering to help conduct the pioneering research in to clean energy production and robotics.
The 2 new centres will provide the UK Atomic Energy Agency with advanced robots and high-tech materials needed to improve testing of fusion power - key steps towards developing the first fusion power plants and helping the UK achieve its target of at least an 80% reduction in carbon emissions from 1990 to 2050.
The centres have been built at the site of the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion experiment, the world’s largest fusion device, a major project backed by £2.5 billion EU funding which brings international research expertise to the UK and supports nearly 700 highly skilled local jobs.
The JET is just one of the many research centres across the UK which benefit from the EU. The UK invests 12% in the EU total budget and gets back over 15% of EU science funding (amounting to €7 billion in 2007 to 2013). UK universities also receive more EU funding than any other member state, with Oxford University one of the top 4 universities for EU funding (all of which are in the UK).
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:
The hard-work of scientists, academics and apprentices here in Culham is a prime example of why the UK is a world-leader in scientific discovery. These new facilities will take the next steps in developing clean fusion energy, and train apprentices to support local businesses and growth.
Our membership of the EU, and the funding and international collaboration it brings, is vital to the world-leading research here at Culham and across the UK.
Life Science Minister George Freeman MP also met with Oxford-based life science business leaders to discuss the benefits to UK science from EU funding in collaborative research projects, making the UK the life science capital of Europe.
Life Science Minister George Freeman MP said:
The UK’s world class £60 billion life science sector generates 200,000 highly skilled jobs and continues to punch above its weight thanks to ambitious and talented life science companies like those here in Oxford, collaborating with universities and a wide range of research institutes benefiting from EU funding.
Leaving the EU would threaten our leadership in this £60 billion sector by risking our ability to attract talent, access investment, and share world-leading facilities.
For life sciences, it would be the height of folly for the UK to cut ourselves off from the world’s largest life science market by volume, and the UK’s ability to influence the single set of regulations that underpin life science businesses.
The 2 new sites at Culham, a £9 million Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) and £8 million Material Research Facility, will build on the decades of specialist knowledge developed at the £2.5 billion Joint European Torus (JET) fusion experiment.
RACE will develop advanced robotics which can operate in environments impossible for humans, like inside a fusion reactor, and will also benefit deep sea exploration for oil and gas and support the development of driverless cars.
JET continues to receive £60 million a year from the EU, a major boost for the local economy, supporting 600 jobs and 45 apprenticeships as well as 400 local contractor jobs.
Notes to editors
The UK receives over 15% of EU science funding compared to the 12% it invests in the EU’s total budget.
That amounted to €7 billion Euros in the last funding round 2007 to 2013.
The government has protected science budgets in this parliament, and is investing a record amount in new science infrastructure, keeping the UK at the forefront of discovery.
Half of the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s annual funding comes from the EU, through the JET project.
In 2015 the UK’s life sciences sector - which spans pharmaceuticals, medical devices and digital health - saw around half of all pharmaceutical exports head to the EU – generating £11 billion for the UK economy last year (2015).
The UK’s top universities receive more funding from the EU than universities in other member states – the top 4 education institutions under the last EU funding framework were all in the UK – including Oxford University.
There have been 23,500 Apprenticeship starts in Oxfordshire since May 2010.
There were 4,360 Apprenticeship starts in Oxfordshire in 2014 to 2015, a 71.5% increase on 2009 to 2010.