UK labs get £213 million government investment to help scientists tackle infectious diseases, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve defences against terrorist explosives

  • Science Minister Amanda Solloway announced the funding effort yesterday
  • It is part of the Britain’s Research & Development Roadmap published in 2020
  • The investment will give scientists access to super computers to study diseases
  • Meanwhile, airborne sensors in London will monitor greenhouse gas emissions
  • And a lab in Plymouth will be upgraded to be a testbed for floating wind tech 
  • Funding will also be directed to support research in the arts and the humanities 

Labs across the UK are to be upgraded to help tackle infectious diseases, cut greenhouse emissions and more — thanks to a £213 million government investment.

The support — part of the British government’s wider ‘Research & Development Roadmap’ — was announced yesterday by Science Minister Amanda Solloway.

It will give British scientists access to facilities including super computers in Cardiff to track infectious diseases and a floating offshore wind testing lab in Plymouth.

The government’s roadmap aims to make the UK ‘the best place in the world for scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to live and work.’ 

The new investment will not only provide support for the sciences, however, but will also be used to promote research in the arts and humanities.

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Labs across the UK are to be upgraded to help tackle infectious diseases, cut greenhouse emissions and more — thanks to a £213 million government investment (stock image)

HOW THE RESEARCH FUNDS WILL BE SPENT

£34 million for improvements to the UK’s data and digital research infrastructure — which will be used for studies including how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the nation.

£33.5 million to upgrade UK scientific council facilities in Oxford, Liverpool, Yorkshire and Edinburgh. These centres conduct studies into flagship projects including satellite testing and the search for dark matter.

£29 million to upgrade and replace scientific equipment across the UK.

£25 million will go towards highly sophisticated testing facilities in UK universities — including offshore windfarm testing equipment in Plymouth and Sheffield’s ‘blast diagnostics laboratory’.

£15 million for vulnerable research facilities in archives, galleries, libraries and museums — with a focus on conservation and heritage.  

‘The response from UK scientists and researchers to coronavirus has been nothing short of phenomenal,’ said Ms Solloway.

‘We need to match this excellence by ensuring scientific facilities are truly world class, so scientists can continue carrying out life-changing research for years to come as we build back better from the pandemic.’

‘From the world’s most detailed microscopes tracking disease to airborne drones monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, our investment will enhance the tools available to our most ambitious innovators across the country.’

‘By doing so, scientists and researchers will be able to drive forward extraordinary research that will enable the UK to respond to global challenges such as achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.’ 

The funding pot includes £27 million dedicated to upgrading 43 of the UK’s Medical Research Institutes — providing them with cutting-edge microscopy facilities and access to ultra-high performance computing facilities.

Such will aid in future responses to pandemics like COVID-19 by allowing researchers to detect and model diseases in greater detail than before — alongside boosting studies into other conditions like cancer and dementia.

The University of Sheffield will receive backing for its unique ‘blast diagnostics’ laboratory which will study the behaviours of explosive devices and the fragments they release.

Work at this facility will improve the UK’s ability to respond to bombs used in terrorist attacks by aiding the development of more blast-resistant and explosive-proof materials for construction, vehicle manufacture and bomb shielding. 

One of the global challenges the Government aims to tackle with the funding is climate change and helping to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions.

To this end, the University of Plymouth’s COAST laboratory — which has been studying the impact of waves and currents on offshore renewable technology since 2012 — will receive new equipment to test floating wind turbines.

In Southampton, meanwhile, green autonomous marine robots will be put through their paces before being used to monitor the health of the southern oceans — while airborne sensors will be deployed over London to study greenhouse gas emissions.

The University of Liverpool will gain new equipment for its X-ray facility which — among other projects — will help scientists understand how carbon dioxide interacts with sandstone to develop better carbon capture and storage technology. 

One of the global challenges the Government aims to tackle with the funding is climate change and helping to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions. To this end, the University of Plymouth’s COAST laboratory (pictured) — which has been studying the impact of waves and currents on offshore renewable tech since 2012 — will receive equipment to test floating wind turbines

In Southampton, meanwhile, green autonomous marine robots (pictured) will be put through their paces before being used to monitor the health of the southern oceans — while airborne sensors will be deployed over London to study greenhouse gas emissions

‘Research and innovation infrastructure is key to delivering the government’s R&D Roadmap,’ said UK Research and Innovation chief executive Ottoline Leyser.

‘Some of the most innovative ideas with transformative R&D potential [require] access to leading-edge infrastructures, including national research facilities, equipment and instrumentation, networks of technologies and digital infrastructures, and knowledge-based resources such as collections and museums.’

‘Outstanding infrastructure helps to convene talent from the public and private sectors and across disciplines to tackle society’s most complex challenges.’

‘It acts as a magnet for researchers and innovators internationally, contributes to local and national economies, and generates knowledge and capability critical to UK policy, security and wellbeing.’

The support — part of the British government’s wider ‘Research & Development Roadmap’ — was announced yesterday by Science Minister Amanda Solloway, pictured

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