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Science Minister signals hi-tech expansion for Culham

UKAEA will welcome a range of hi-tech and fusion-related businesses to its Culham site as part of a major expansion

Science Minister Sam Gyimah trying out remote handling technology on the European JET fusion experiment at Culham
Science Minister Sam Gyimah trying out remote handling technology on the European JET fusion experiment at Culham

Science Minister Sam Gyimah announced today development of Culham during his visit to Culham Science Centre.

The planned development – which is estimated to bring 200 new jobs – aims to cater for the increasing number of companies wanting to move to Culham. Currently, the existing on-site accommodation, which hosts approximately 60 tenants, including 20 start-ups, is full.

In his visit, Science Minister Gyimah also revealed further Government funding to extend UKAEA’s Materials Research Facility to allow for increased lab space for conducting research on nuclear reactor materials. The Minister also welcomed a new £3.6m academic partnership with the US in order to make the most of transatlantic research talent. The collaboration between UKAEA and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory will see UKAEA post-doctoral researchers undertake extended visits to Princeton to work on areas of common interest in fusion science.

Minister Gyimah addressed UKAEA employees during his visit, and underlined the government’s commitment to fusion research post-Brexit.

He said:

From fusion energy, to software for driverless cars, to air-breathing rocket engines, this site is engineering some of the most exciting science in the world.

The UK is an innovation powerhouse and with science and tech experts moving here, thriving here and growing their businesses here, it’s a vote of confidence in UK science industry. We are committed to attracting and retaining both homegrown and international talent and will keep supporting international collaboration as we tackle the grand challenges of tomorrow and build a Britain fit for the future.

Ian Chapman, UKAEA’s CEO, said:

The Minister’s announcement on site development is excellent news. It means we can establish Culham as a home for hi-tech business in fusion and adjacent sectors and reinforce Oxfordshire’s reputation for world-leading science.

The visit was also an opportunity to show the Minister how UKAEA’s new research facilities will help to get fusion energy on the grid. Fusion could be the ultimate low-carbon energy source, but commercialising it entails overcoming challenges in physics, materials science, engineering and robotics. Recent government support is enabling Culham and the UK to be right at the centre of this world-changing technology.

Published 11 October 2018