Funding boost for mathematical sciences institutes

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Three of the UK’s leading research institutes will be supported to widen access to mathematical sciences and support training through funding confirmed today.

The investment will allow the Isaac Newton Institute (INI), the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) and the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research (HIMR) to launch and expand a wide range of activities supporting education and training.

The funding is part of the £300 million government investment in the Additional Funding Programme for Mathematical Sciences, announced in 2020.

Important discipline

The funding will be delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, and the Royal Society over a five-year period from 2021/21 to 2024/25.

The programme is providing a significant boost to the UK’s world-leading mathematical sciences community, increasing support for this important discipline and increasing the pool of mathematicians able to participate in and deploy state-of-the-art research.

A total of £35 million, over five years, is being allocated by EPSRC to the INI, led by the University of Cambridge, the ICMS, led by Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, and HIMR, led by the University of Bristol.

The research institutes

The Isaac Newton Institute

The INI will:

  • expand activities, including the Newton Gateway to Mathematics which aims to widen access to mathematics and support education and training in areas where mathematical skills are needed
  • deliver a remote research programme across the UK
  • strengthen collaborations with partners including the ICMS, the Alan Turing Institute, and the HIMR, and international partners
  • widen participation, strengthen the institute’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). They will do this by building on best practice and seeking new approaches to increase participation among women and other underrepresented groups, increasing funding opportunities and training
  • support research training and professional development.

The International Centre for Mathematical Sciences

The ICMS will:

  • fund research-focused activity at undergraduate, postgraduate and early career research levels through open calls
  • widen participation and diversity by holding events across the UK
  • expand its Workshop and Research in Groups programme to connect mathematicians across the world, developing opportunities for online participation where appropriate
  • launch further initiatives to support early career researchers and mid-career mathematicians
  • create a new visitor programme to support researchers from low and middle-income countries and extend research time in the UK for visiting international researchers
  • continue the Virtual Forum-Knowledge Exchange in Mathematics (V-KEMS) programme, provide resource to maximise the impact of knowledge exchange (KE) activity, and work with the Newton Institute and its KE arm, the Newton Gateway, to develop and deliver a UK connected-centres network for Knowledge Exchange
  • focus on responsible innovation, equality, diversity and inclusion, and public engagement through new activities to communicate the role played by the mathematical sciences in people’s lives and the nature and breadth of research.

The Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research

The HIMR will:

  • significantly increase the number of PhD studentships funded across the UK
  • significantly increase the number of Heilbronn Research Fellowships
  • increase the number of secondments, opening up more projects in the institute’s internal research programme
  • accelerate its expansion into other areas of the UK
  • expand considerably the current scheme for funding research activities at UK universities.
  • deepen and extend collaborations with other Institutes, for example the ICMS, the INI and the Alan Turing Institute, organising more joint events.
  • open activities to a much wider audience of mathematicians by recording lectures at conferences and summer schools, making these more accessible to those not able to travel.

Flagship investments

EPSRC Executive Chair, Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, said:

The Isaac Newton Institute, the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences and the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research are internationally respected, flagship investments in the UK’s mathematical sciences community.

This funding will support them to continue providing high quality research and knowledge exchange activities.

It will also enable the Isaac Newton Institute and the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences to increase participation across the UK and further promote engagement with mathematical sciences communities around the world.

Professor Geoffrey Grimmett, Chair of the HIMR, said:

This very substantial grant will allow us to expand HIMR’S central role as a national institute dedicated to the development of excellence across UK mathematics.

The award is a far-sighted recognition by Government of the importance of fundamental research, and it will support large cohorts of students and fellows as they build scientific careers and, in turn, foster future generations.

INI Director, Professor David Abrahams said:

It’s recognised that mathematics is experiencing a golden age. When INI launched its first research programmes in 1992, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence were emerging fields. Now they underpin much of modern society.

Likewise number theory has proved itself key in the subject of cyber security. Consequently, there’s a greater understanding throughout society of the power of mathematics to aid mankind in all its endeavours, and to help save it.

Climate change and the Coronavirus pandemic are two such examples of this. With these additional resources, INI will help ensure that the UK is at the nexus of foundational and applied cutting-edge mathematical sciences research in the coming decades.

ICMS Scientific Director, Professor Paul Glendinning said:

This is a fantastic opportunity to maximise the impact of the investment in research in the mathematical sciences and the people who do this research. Their work makes a major contribution to the international scientific reputation of the UK and to the UK economy.

The additional funding will give us the means to set agendas and to increase the engagement of the mathematical sciences community with other disciplines to make intellectual progress and to address societal challenges.

It follows the announcement of a new initiative to provide scientists and researchers with greater agility for early-stage idea generation and research through small funding grants, which also forms part of the additional funding programme.

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