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November 13, 2007

Funding Partnerships

U.K. Government Earmarks $200 Million For Science

Technology Strategy Board opens competition for academic-industry partnerships in eight new areas

Patricia L. Short

The British government's Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills (DIUS) has topped off its research investment funds with some $200 million to bankroll industry-academic R&D projects in new technology.

The secretary of state for DIUS, John Denham, says his department's Technology Strategy Board has opened a new competition for R&D projects in eight areas.

The contest's just-launched first phase covers projects in the areas of materials for energy, which might be used in production of wind turbines or tidal barrage systems; high-value manufacturing; and cell therapy.

The second phase, beginning Dec. 19, will cover the fields of low-carbon energy; advanced lighting, lasers, and displays; and health technologies. The final phase, opening on Jan. 30, 2008, will invite R&D proposals in creative industries and data gathering in complex environments.

The new funding is the latest in a series of investments made by the Technology Strategy Board since the collaborative program began in 2004. The board has held regular competitions for its cofunding since then. To date, the program has supported more than 700 projects across 40 technology areas, with a combined business and government investment of more than $2 billion.

In the spring competition earlier this year, the board approved investments of nearly $210 million for 76 new R&D projects in seven technology priority areas. The amount included funding from the government's various research councils and from the Ministry of Defence. Together with contributions from the companies themselves, a total of more than $400 million was committed for R&D projects.

The seven areas covered networked enterprise; oil and gas technologies; plastic electronics, materials processing, and systems integration; smart, bioactive, and nanostructured materials for health; low-carbon-energy technologies; design engineering and advanced manufacturing; and lightweight materials and structures.

The program aims to generate proposals in which businesses work with academic groups on projects that would deliver successful new products and services.

For example, at the beginning of 2005, the stem cell technology company ReNeuron brought together a partnership with King's College London, the Institute of Psychiatry, Angel Biotechnology, and Regen Tec Ltd. to develop methods for producing cost-effective stem cell therapies for serious diseases. The project, which is scheduled to be wrapped up next year, has a total cost of nearly $9 million, half of which was funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

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Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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