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Science Minister discusses 'essential' role of Research England during UKRI visit


Science Minister discusses 'essential' role of Research England during UKRI visit

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) welcomed Science Minister Chris Skidmore as he visited the offices of Research England.

Speaking to staff in Bristol, Mr Skidmore discussed the importance of Research England in supporting universities’ research and contributions to society and the economy.

He met Executive Chair David Sweeney and senior staff for a detailed discussion about the £2bn of public funding that Research England distributes each year to universities, which is key to delivering the Government’s Industrial Strategy and meeting its target of investing 2.4 per cent of GDP in research and development by 2027.

Mr Skidmore said: “I was very pleased to visit Research England today and to talk to staff. Universities’ research and knowledge exchange work makes an important contribution to the UK economy, helping to drive our modern Industrial Strategy and to ensure every part of the country benefits.

“The funding that Research England provides is essential to underpinning universities’ important economic and social contribution.”

Mr Sweeney said: “The universities that Research England funds have a vital role in delivering the government’s priorities such as the Industrial Strategy and regional growth. The Minister was very interested to hear about this in detail, including how our funding incentivises universities to contribute to these national priority areas, and helps them lever additional investment from business partners.

“I look forward to continuing our productive relationship with the Minister, so that we can not only challenge universities to play a key role in delivering the economic and social benefit that the government wants to see, but also to reflect back to him insight from universities that can inform his thinking.”

Earlier in the day Mr Skidmore saw how tiny robots are being developed to sim through underground pipes to repair damage and leaks at the University of Bristol.

The minister visited the laboratory of Professor Bruce Drinkwater, whose team are involved in a programme established to develop the robots with £7 million of funding from UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Research Council. The project is led by the University of Sheffield and includes researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Leeds.

It is part of a £26.6 million investment in robotics technologies announced by Mr Skidmore recently, with a further £19.6 million delivered through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to support 14 projects to develop robotic and Artificial Intelligence technologies for use in hazardous work places such as offshore wind farms, nuclear decommissioning facilities and satellites.

The investment, which will be delivered by UKRI, is part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, investing in the technologies of tomorrow and creating high skilled jobs across the country.

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