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BBSRC funding to sponsored institutes

24 February 2006

Following its announcement on 17 February 2006, that it is increasing overall funding to its sponsored research institutes, the BBSRC today announces details of support across the institutes for the next four years.

Overall, BBSRC funding to sponsored institutes will increase by £11M on a recurrent baseline of £63M by 2007-08 (excluding capital funding). Some of this will be for generic activities such as Knowledge Transfer and training and career development, and has not yet been allocated between institutes.

Animal Health and Welfare

  • BBSRC will increase the proportion of core institute funding that supports animal health and welfare from 22% to 26% by 2009-10.

    This will include an increase of £2.3M p.a. from 2006-07 rising to £3.5M by 2009-10 for the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), in order to enhance the institute’s sustainability and support its ongoing re-focusing as a centre of excellence for basic research in infectious diseases of animals. The additional funding takes account of the high cost of large animal research, and will be complemented by BBSRC allowing the institute to bid for an additional £1M in grant funding. BBSRC is already working closely with Defra on the redevelopment of the Pirbright Laboratory of IAH; and the Council’s decision represents BBSRC’s commitment to develop a joint approach to longer-term funding for IAH.

    BBSRC will provide £35M in capital funding for a new research facility (the Edinburgh Bioscience Research Centre - EBRC) that will be a major focus for a unique range of research in animal bioscience in the UK and which will encompass research currently undertaken at the Roslin Institute (RI) and the Neuropathogenesis Unit (NPU) of the IAH. The existing core funding for RI and NPU of around £5.7M will transfer to the new Centre and a phased increase, rising to £2M p.a., will be made to the new Centre. The University of Edinburgh will also be a key partner in the new building and plans a £12M capital investment for over 100 staff and PhD students, working alongside BBSRC funded staff, to provide for an expanded research effort and facilities for the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. The new Centre will be located on the University Vet School site at Easter Bush and adjacent to the Moredun Research Institute, with whom it is expected that some research facilities will be shared. Discussions are also underway with the Scottish Agricultural College which may wish to locate some of its researchers in the same building.
  • The EBRC will be part of a wider research consortium across Scotland, already including the Roslin Institute, the IAH Neuropathogenesis Unit, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies of the University of Edinburgh, the Moredun Research Institute and the Scottish Agricultural College. The consortium has developed a joint research strategy to bring together key expertise in animal bioscience to focus on five interrelated themes: infectious disease; reproduction and development; behaviour and welfare; sustainable farm animal production; and biomedicine.

Sustainable Agriculture and Land Use

  • BBSRC will increase the total core funding to the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) and to Rothamsted Research (RRes) by £0.5M to £17.4M in 2006-07. In view of the increasing scientific synergies, changing national policy needs and decrease in provision by other funders particularly Defra, BBSRC Council is minded to move to a single funding stream for multiple sites across the two institutes in the future. BBSRC is discussing possible mechanisms for this with the two institutes. BBSRC will continue negotiations with Defra on routes for sustainable funding patterns, and remains committed to supporting world class research in strategic plant and crop science within a national framework of research centres that meets strategic needs. BBSRC also wishes to promote closer working with other research centres. BBSRC, IGER and RRes have responded to the Natural Environment Research Council’s consultation on the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology by identifying synergistic research and operational opportunities between the respective organisations.
  • BBSRC will increase core funding to the John Innes Centre from £12M to £14M p.a. over the next four years in recognition of the excellence of the institute’s basic plant science research and its increasing focus on translating outcomes into crop science. BBSRC is encouraging further collaborative research between the institute and the university sector by setting no limit on project grant awards to the institute for such collaborative projects.

Biomedical and Food Sciences

  • BBSRC will increase annual core funding to the Babraham Institute from £10.5M to £12.8M over the next four years in recognition of its research excellence. This includes strategic increases of £0.5M for 2006-07 and £0.75M p.a. for the following years. This will create some headroom for new research and aid long term sustainability. BBSRC is encouraging further collaborative research between the institute and the university sector by setting no limit on grant awards to the institute for such collaborative projects and by raising the limit on grant awards solely to institute researchers.
  • BBSRC will increase funding to the Institute of Food Research (IFR) from £9.6M to £9.9M in 2006-07 to support development of the institute’s new science strategy, within which research will be consolidated around core areas of excellence. BBSRC plans to review progress in implementation of the new strategy, and recommendations of the 2005 Institute Assessment Exercise, in 2007. BBSRC is also encouraging further collaborative research between the institute and other research organisations, especially the university sector, by setting no limit on grant awards to the institute for such collaborative projects.

Knowledge Transfer (KT)

  • BBSRC will increase support for KT at institutes by £1M. This will enable institutes to build on their strong KT culture, and enable them to strengthen their portfolio approach to knowledge transfer and innovation. The institutes have a compelling KT track record and the additional funding comes after projects involving the institutes successfully secured funding from the second round of the Government’s Public Sector Research Exploitation fund.

Career development

  • BBSRC will provide £2M for training, and establish a new institute fellowship fund (£1.5M p.a.) to improve early career support for outstanding scientists. This ‘new blood’ funding will strengthen priority areas by attracting high calibre researchers and providing career development opportunities.

“These changes reflect BBSRC’s commitment to retain high quality institute science in an environment which has changed significantly since the last review of institutes, and which is continuing to change,” said BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Julia Goodfellow.

“BBSRC-sponsored institutes are carrying out high quality research, but their relatively small size and changing policy and end-user needs means that they run the risk of becoming unsustainable both financially and in terms of their scientific critical mass. Some are already in this position. Rather than continuing the incremental progress of recent years, BBSRC Council has acted decisively to re-position institute science to meet these challenges,” said Professor Goodfellow.

BBSRC currently has a unique opportunity to re-align its support for institute science informed by:

  • Ongoing negotiations with Defra aimed at developing a joint approach to long term funding for some institutes, and identifying policy needs in animal health, and in sustainable agriculture and land use
  • The 2005 Institute Assessment Exercise which provides detailed analysis of research quality
  • BBSRC’s review of institute governance arrangements in response to recommendations of the recent OST Review

“The proposed changes provide a firmer basis for establishing the 50-60% of relatively stable funding which BBSRC believes is needed for sustainable institutes. Such stability is necessary to enable research leaders to plan for longer-term programmes, to retain crucial research expertise in their laboratories and maintain expensive core facilities. Nationally, it will help us to sustain critical mass in strategically important areas such as animal health and welfare,” said Professor Goodfellow. “The proposed changes offer new opportunities for exciting and innovative partnerships that will enable institutes to continue delivering world class science.”

BBSRC will be working closely with, and consulting, institute directors, staff and their representatives, on the detailed implications of these funding decisions.

The decisions will drive forward BBSRC’s ten year vision for institute science (published in December 2005*) for example the increase in support for animal health research. They are designed to:

  • maintain scientific excellence and competitiveness, and are informed by results from BBSRC’s 2005 Institute Assessment Exercise (IAE)**, a process roughly analogous to the Research Assessment Exercise for universities

provide long term scientific and financial sustainability in the face of changing scientific and policy priorities, by moving institute science to structures that will enable provision of the 50-60% stable funding from BBSRC core funding and other major contractors including Defra/FSA;and by increasing institutes’ opportunities to win more funding through responsive mode grants.


Notes to editors

  1. The BBSRC-sponsored institutes are:

    Animal Health and Welfare

  2. Sustainable Agriculture and Land Use

    Biomedical and Food Sciences

  3. The institutes have charitable status and are companies limited by guarantee. They receive core strategic grants from BBSRC and also receive funding from other sources including government departments, industry and the EU . BBSRC is reviewing institute governance arrangements in response to recommendations of the recent OST Review
  4. * BBSRC published “Science and Innovation in BBSRC-sponsored Institutes – the next ten years” in December 2005.
  5. ** The IAE is BBSRC's four-yearly assessment of the institutes on the excellence of the science and how each is meeting its strategic objectives. It includes assessments across all institute activities, including postgraduate and fellowship research training, knowledge transfer, and science and society. Institute research programmes are assessed by Visiting Groups that are made up of independent experts, representative of academic scientists and each institute's end-user community, and are chaired by a member of BBSRC Council.

    Institute research programmes were assessed in three categories: BBSRC-funded; externally funded; and mixed. For programmes in the first category, and for the BBSRC-funded elements of programmes in the third category, quality of science was of overriding importance; these were assessed similarly to grant applications for BBSRC Research Committees. For externally funded programmes and elements of mixed-funded programmes that were externally funded, key considerations were 'fitness for purpose', needs of the funder and broader strategic relevance. Where Defra/Food Standards Agency were major external funders, the Department and Agency were represented on the Visiting Group.

    The 2005 IAE did not include the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) which had been subject to a major review of its science programme ahead of the IAE schedule; the new science strategy of IAH had been considered independently by BBSRC Council. A full Visiting Group was deferred to allow time for this to be embedded, and will take place in June 2006. Decisions about funding to IAH were informed by Council's earlier deliberations.


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382