UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced a £481 million investment in major research and innovation infrastructure over the next three years to help power groundbreaking work across a spectrum of disciplines and help tackle a range of societal issues, from the impacts of climate change to adolescent mental health.
Major projects include:
A transformative upgrade for the UK’s national synchrotron (Diamond-II), one of the UK’s largest science facilities. The vast 561 meter ring-shaped at Diamond Light Source on the Harwell Campus harnesses the power of electrons to produce an intense beam of light that can be used to study atoms and molecules in incredibly fine detail.
To date, Diamond has enabled ground-breaking scientific achievements, including:
- time-critical data and resources for improved public understanding of COVID-19
- research of an enzyme that degrades plastic
- a new synthetic vaccine for the virus causing foot-and-mouth disease.
£81.5 million is to be invested over the next three years in Diamond-II, which when completed will open up new pathways for materials research and drug development; offer real-time insights into processes such as advanced manufacturing and the performance of next-generation batteries.
The UK’s Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) is also a recipient of funding. The flying laboratory enables scientists to track and evaluate pollution, severe weather and the effects of climate change, with analyzes conducted on the atmosphere and air pollution levels over the UK and international skies monitored.
It has tracked:
- dangerous gases caused by volcanic eruptions
- surveyed drought in Africa.
£37 million will be invested in upgrading the aircraft’s scientific equipment which will continue to support environmental scientists for the next 18 years.
CoSTAR, a new creative facility for the UK’s renowned screen, gaming and performance sectors receives funding of £24 million and will support fast-growing creative industries to develop new products and experiences.
Comprising a central hub and experimental studio fitted with real-time digital technologies such as motion and volumetric capture, the viewer is able to rotate or move around in what appears to be a three-dimensional space.
The central hub will be enhanced by a network of regional labs across the UK.
UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said: “From drug discovery to advances in digital arts, advances in research and innovation depend on access to cutting edge equipment and facilities and the UK is home to world-renowned facilities in a wide range of fields, which act as global hubs for research and innovation.
“We must ensure that we renew and upgrade that capability to keep pace with technological advances, empowering our researchers and innovators to go further faster.
Today, we are investing £481 million across the UK that will ensure our talented people, teams and innovative businesses have access to the world-class infrastructure they need to unlock their full potential.”
The three-year £481 million investment is made from UKRI’s Infrastructure Fund. The lifetime UKRI Infrastructure Fund investment in this portfolio is estimated to be £1.6 billion.
Many of the investments will be subject to business case and further approvals.
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