Developing a world class research programme

In June 2018, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Executive Chair Mark Thomson opened a formal series of discussions with our research communities designed to identify new world-class science and technology proposals for potential future investment.

The areas in scope were:

  • particle physics
  • particle astrophysics
  • nuclear physics
  • astronomy
  • UK national facilities (Diamond, Central Laser Facility and ISIS Neutron Source)
  • e-infrastructure
  • accelerator research and development (R&D)
  • enabling technologies
  • STFC laboratory departments.

See more details on the UK Government Web Archive.

In September and October 2018, STFC’s Council, Science Board and Executive Board considered the inputs received from our communities and agreed to publish the full list of priority projects.

The project has successfully refreshed our portfolio of potential future funding opportunities. STFC wishes to stress that the list has not been prioritised so as to maintain maximum flexibility in preparing future budget proposals. We are developing a process to ensure the list is regularly refreshed so that we are aware of new ideas or those that are no longer relevant.

The projects in astronomy, solar system science, particle physics, particle astrophysics and nuclear physics were selected and proposed to STFC by the relevant STFC advisory panel.

In e-infrastructure and accelerator R&D the projects were selected through a workshop including members of the relevant advisory panels and their broader communities.

Facilities projects were proposed by the directors of the relevant facility, and the enabling STFC infrastructure projects identified by a consensus of the STFC laboratory department directors.

Maintaining a world-class research programme

STFC recognises the current list is not static. The priorities will naturally evolve over time as research areas develop, projects are funded, and new opportunities emerge.

STFC has agreed that we therefore need to regularly refresh the in-scope priority project areas:

  • Particle physics, astronomy and nuclear physics (PPAN)
  • UK national facilities (CLF, Diamond and ISIS)
  • Enabling technologies and laboratory departments.

STFC has incorporated feedback on the initial project from our community and our internal programme managers into the plan to refresh the current list, as outlined below:

  • STFC will conduct a major review of the Developing a World Class Research Programme priority list every three years, with the next review in 2021, following a similar process as in 2018 but with a slightly longer timescale for responses.
  • We will also ensure an annual process for the advisory panels for particle physics, astronomy, solar system science, particle astrophysics, nuclear physics, computing, and accelerators, and for the STFC national laboratories and facilities, to consider any urgent developments that may affect the priorities on the expanded list but without adding to the overall length of the list.
  • Any changes identified through this light touch annual review would be implemented with a newly published list by the end of November each year.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

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