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Seventy five Centres for Doctoral Training announced by UKRI to develop the skills needed for UK prosperity

Published:  04 February, 2019

One of the UK’s most significant investments in research skills was be announced recently when the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), revealed which university proposals for Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) had been successful in the latest funding round.

These centres will ensure the next generation of doctoral level students are equipped to tackle research and innovation challenges across the engineering and physical sciences landscape, including subjects such as Quantum Engineering, Medical Imaging and Offshore Renewables.

Over seventy CDTs, that will equip the UK with the next generation of doctoral level researchers needed across the breadth of the engineering and physical sciences landscape, will be announced at a launch event held at the London Stock Exchange.

The Centres will be funded through EPSRC, which has allocated £444 million and a further £2.2 million from The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Science Foundation Ireland will unilaterally be supporting a Republic of Ireland cohort on seven EPSRC-badged Centres with approximately 39 million euros. These Centres will work collaboratively with some UK Centres, with SFI-funded students working closely with certain EPSRC CDTs as part of an agreed training programme.

The Centres’ 1,400 project partners have contributed £386 million in cash and in-kind support, and include companies such as Tata Steel and Procter and Gamble and charities such as Cancer Research UK.

Science and Innovation Minister Chris Skidmore said: “As we explore new research to boost our economy with an increase of over £7 billion invested in R&D over five years to 2021/22 – the highest increase for over 40 years – we will need skilled people to turn ideas into inventions that can have a positive impact on our daily lives.

“The Centres for Doctoral Training at universities across the country will offer the next generation of PHD students the ability to get ahead of the curve. In addition, this has resulted in nearly £400 million being leveraged from industry partners. This is our modern Industrial Strategy in action, ensuring all corners of the UK thrive with the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.

“As Science Minister, I’m delighted we’re making this massive investment in postgraduate students as part of our increased investment in R&D.”

UKRI’s chief executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “Highly talented people are required to tackle key global challenges such as sustainable energy and cyber security, and provide leadership across industries and our public services.

“Centres for Doctoral Training provide them with the support, tools and training they need to succeed, and the involvement of 1,400 project partners underlines how much industry and the charity sector value this approach.”

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, overall chair of the CDT panels said: “The high number and outstanding quality of CDT proposals put forward demonstrated just how successful the model has been in energizing the research community and their partners. It also made the process a difficult but heartening task. I would like to congratulate all those who were successful in being funded and look forward to hearing of the research that will emanate from the Centres.”

The successful Centres will focus on cohort-based doctoral training and cover a wide range of fields, from Medical Imaging to Quantum Engineering, Offshore Renewable Energy to Statistical Applied Mathematics.

The importance of developing STEM skills is a key part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, ensuring that all areas of the UK embrace innovation and build the skills the economy needs to thrive.

Professor Lynn Gladden, EPSRC’s Executive Chair, said: “The UK’s research base makes the discoveries that lead to innovations and these can improve lives and generate income for the UK. Centres for Doctoral Training have already proven to be successful in attracting the world’s brightest minds and industry support to address the scientific and engineering challenges we face. This new cadre will continue to build on previous investment.”

The EPSRC has supported over 50,000 doctoral students over the last 25 years.

Over this time it has reviewed and evolved the support it provides to ensure it meets the needs of the research and innovation community. CDTs are one of three ways that EPSRC funds doctoral training with the other routes being Doctoral Training Partnerships and Industrial CASE. CDT investments comprise around 45 per cent of EPSRC’s doctoral training investment.

Forty three per cent of EPSRC invested students go on to be employed in business/public services and 36 per cent go on to work in academia.

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