£156m to expand excellent research units in English universities

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Research England is investing £156 million to support 18 universities across England to expand their small, but outstanding research units.

From rural and coastal health research to mathematics for artificial intelligence, and digital innovations in health and social care to blended realities. Research England is investing in a diverse range of units across disciplines, as well as geographical regions in England.

The investment will help these units build the capacity and quality of their research through supporting a research skills pipeline to benefit local economies, society, and cultures.

The funding comes from Research England’s Expanding Excellence in England (E3) Fund. The 18 projects are funded from the second round. The first round funded 13 units in 2019.

All of the units are recognised as excellent and have the potential to grow.

Video credit: UK Research and Innovation
Video transcript and on-screen captions are available by watching on YouTube.

Investing in research units

Dr Steven Hill, Director of Research at Research England, said:

We have invested in research units in universities right across England. This will diversify the regional spread of research disciplines to support the sustained enhancement of research capacity across England, and enhance the skills base, build and diversify talent and bring disciplines together to develop new skillsets and ‘future leaders’ in areas of research excellence where there is untapped potential.

Our investment will also help to reinforce the contribution of HEPs to their region through strategic local partnerships, focusing on sharing resources and infrastructure and generating local impact, backed by robust institutional leadership.

We’re excited to see how these units develop over the next five years.

The investments

The investments include:

£10.9 million to the University of Lincoln

To create the Lincoln Institute for Rural and Coastal Health. The institute will enhance our understanding of urgent place-based inequalities and develop new interventions to improve physical, mental, social, and economic health and wellbeing in coastal and rural communities.

It will be the country’s first integrated and transdisciplinary institute for coastal and rural health research.

£1.6 million to Arts University Bournemouth

To create the Centre for Plastics Identification and Curation. The centre will explore how plastics degrade over time or behave in different environments, resulting in research which will have international relevance to both museum collections and modern manufacturing.

It will link knowledge of design history from the Arts University Bournemouth’s Museum of Design in Plastics with the manufacturing and testing capabilities of the university’s new innovation studio.

£13.5 million to the University of Hertfordshire, Cranfield, Leeds and Manchester

To create the Future Biodetection Technologies Hub. The hub will address the technological leaps required to build safer, healthier, more resilient environments and deepen our understanding of our changing climate.

It is built around the expansion of the University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Research in Biodetection Technologies’ sector-leading capabilities in research-led development of biodetection systems and instrumentation.

£8.3 million to the University of Kent

To help the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) address a key global conservation challenge of our time: how we reconcile biodiversity protection through conservation areas with other land-uses and land values.

There needs to be a radical shift in how we imagine, design and implement successful and inclusive conservation solutions in multifunctional landscapes and seascapes, which must be research-led to ensure they are effective and equitable.

DICE is perfectly placed to support partners from policy, practice and industry, and engage with local communities, to generate the world-leading and high impact interdisciplinary research needed for informed decision-making.

£4.9 million to the University of Bradford

For the Centre for Digital Innovations in Health and Social Care. This is a multidisciplinary centre of excellence, undertaking high quality, co-created applied research that informs the design and implementation of new technologies in national and international health and care systems. The research explores the impact of such technologies on patients, service users, carers, and health and social care professionals.

Funding for the units will run for five years, commencing from academic year 2024 to 2025.

View the summaries of all 18 successful units.

Top image:  Credit: Vladimir Vladimirov, E+ via Getty Images

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