Investment in World Class Labs to maintain UK infrastructure

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is investing £103m to expand and upgrade the UK’s world class research infrastructure, including digital infrastructure.

The investments will support the sector and ensure UK researchers have access to the best labs and equipment they need to keep producing world-class science.

Facilities receiving funding include:

  • Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) for new equipment to enable a much greater understanding of human diseases and the design of powerful drugs against them
  • National Oceanography Centre’s state-of-the-art deep-sea research facility for a new sediment core scanner
  • UK Digital Heritage Centre at the University of Liverpool to fund cutting edge facilities that will pioneer a new approach to preserving, promoting and progressing cultural heritage through technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain and the Metaverse

Investing in world class infrastructure

The £103 million additional funding support is comprised of:

  • £79.3 million as part of the £150 million announcement, to address the impacts of the ongoing delay in UK association to the EU’s Horizon Europe programme
  • £23.7 million as part of the £370 million announcement to forge a better Britain through investment in science and technology

Science and Technology Secretary Chloe Smith said:

Our world-class science and technology sectors are the engine room for growth in the UK economy, and the basis for scientific and technological advancements that will improve everyone’s lives.

These sectors need continued, concerted and concentrated backing from the government and I am determined to provide it during my time as Science and Technology Secretary, through funding such as this, which will ensure our world class labs have the infrastructure and equipment to match their status.

Supporting research and innovation communities

UKRI International Champion, Professor Christopher Smith, said:

This crucial support for UK research infrastructure is part of the package of support provided by government so that our research and innovation communities can carry on with their essential work notwithstanding the delay to association with Horizon Europe.

The investments, made across the UK, will provide UK researchers with advanced equipment, facilities and technology, and help maintain the UK’s position as a leader in research and innovation.

This support will ensure the UK is an attractive place for scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to live, work and innovate.

Further information

The following breakdown of funding is provided. Please note that this funding uplifted existing World Class Labs programmes.

Digital research infrastructure, £8.7 million

Funding of £6.7 million for the Distributed Research using Advanced Computing, an integrated supercomputing facility currently predominantly used for research in particle physics and astronomy.

Funding of £2 million towards the multimillion-pound National High-Performance Computing facilities, ISAMBARD, which is led out of University of Bristol and is an alliance across the Cray Inc, Met Office and the GW4 alliance.

Facilities and equipment, £61.7 million

Maintaining capability with core biomedical equipment, UK-wide

£24.7 million funding to support key items of biomedical equipment from values of £14,000 to £6 million, at 28 UK institutions.

Investments include:

  • the Nobel Prize-winning pioneers of electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) at the MRC LMB will be equipped with the latest cryo-EM capability that will enable the scientists to see proteins in atomic detail. Understanding the atomic structure of proteins enables a much greater understanding of human diseases and the design of powerful drugs against them. A microscopic X-ray scanner will also be installed to enable the precise mapping of all nerve cells in the brains of animals by electron microscopy
  • new DNA sequencing capability at Hull University Teaching Hospital
  • magnetoencephalography (MEG) technology funding for the University of Nottingham
  • state-of-the-art pre-clinical radiotherapy platform at King’s College London
  • modernising the electron microscopy capabilities at the University of Glasgow

Enhancing grants to deliver creative research capability through renewing, repurposing and upgrading equipment and research facilities, UK-wide

£18.7 million increased investment to:

  • support the development of world-class research and development capabilities
  • improve the visibility and resilience of practice-led research sectors within the arts and humanities
  • support the UK’s creative and cultural economy through further funding for the sector’s critical infrastructure

Investments include:

  • robotics living lab and work in progress space for developing innovative manufacturing to support small and medium-sized enterprise fashion designer or fabricator businesses at Manchester Fashion Institute (Manchester Metropolitan University)
  • upgrade of production arts IT infrastructure to deploy state-of-the-art equipment in order to explore the research potential of visual effects and extended reality through providing access to world-class technical facilities, and facilitate access to the skills and knowledge of existing and additional industry partners at Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  • creating immersive experience systems with accessibility as the fundamental theme, with new equipment catering to more people, including those with additional access needs at Historic Environment Scotland
  • SHIFT, Shared Hub for Immersive Future Technologies, will deliver new facilities that brings together artist-researchers across the disciplines of film, sound and performance to explore the potential in the latest immersive tools and technologies at the University of Greenwich
  • the Bridge, a new laboratory at University of the West of England, Bristol will unite arts, humanities, and technologies researchers within a unique, interdisciplinary ‘collision space’
  • renewing and upgrading the 14CHRONO facility at Queens University, Belfast, a high-precision radiocarbon dating and isotope analysis laboratory
  • UK Digital Heritage Centre at the University of Liverpool to fund cutting edge facilities that will pioneer a new approach to preserving, promoting and progressing cultural heritage, by developing new ways of working with emerging technologies such as AI, Blockchain and the Metaverse

Boosting core equipment for engineering and physical sciences, UK-wide

£16.7 million investment for:

  • equipment to support and maintain competitiveness for UK researchers across 50 institutions and to include delivering improved polymer science and data collection capabilities
  • a funding stream for digital core capability to allow access to high performance computing resources, software and training

Investments include:

  • £225,000 towards a liquid chromatography mass spectrometry system and X-ray powder diffraction detector upgrades for the University of Warwick
  • Ulster University will invest in the Digital Twins research space with specific emphasis on applications to digital healthcare technologies

Maintaining capability at cutting edge of environmental science research

Funding of £1.6 million for support services and facilities across five institutions that help deliver unique and in-demand capability to the UK’s environmental science community.

Investments include:

  • £594,000 funding for an Itrax FleXRay X-ray fluorescence sediment core scanner based at the National Oceanography Centre’s core repository and core scanning facility ‘BOSCORF’. BOSCORF is the UK’s largest deep-sea sediment repository and state of the art research facility, providing the only wet or dry sediment Itrax FlexRay scanner in the UK
  • £375,000 funding for ARGUS VI noble gas mass spectrometer at the National Environmental Isotope Facility at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre) in Glasgow. The mass spectrometers are used to help determine the ages, durations and rates for Earth system processes on timescales from the present to the formation of the solar system. The ARGUS VI will keep the facility at the forefront of geochronology, with improved data quality and throughput for users

Estates, £32.7 million

Investment into the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) estates, £24.3 million

An investment to provide upgrades to the national laboratories across the UK including Edinburgh, Daresbury and Harwell, which underpin fundamental research in astronomy, physics and space science.

Investments include:

  • high energy lasers
  • AI and quantum computing
  • particle physics and particle accelerator development
  • scientific instrumentation development for ground and space-based astronomy
  • advanced digital technologies to upskill industry and the research community
  • high performance computing and scientific software

Investment into the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) estates, £8.4 million

An investment in maintaining and improving NERC estates.

Investments include:

  • funding for the UK’s internationally significant Antarctic Research Infrastructure
  • upgrading research ships that carry out oceanographic research in extreme and remote environments
  • carbon improvements to move towards the UK’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050

Top image:  Credit: Department for Science, Innovation and Technology

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