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£125M announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable for the next generation of scientists to drive the economy of the future

Copyright: University of Cambridge, Department of Plant Sciences
  • 1,250 upskilled bioscience students will help create new industries and jobs
  • New generation of scientists will lead the next industrial revolution, creating more sustainable industries, boosting our health and providing high-quality, sustainable food

Business Secretary Vince Cable will announce £125M of funding over five years to support the training and development of 1,250 PhD students today (Friday 3 October). The announcement will be made at The Roslin Institute, part of the University of Edinburgh, where he will meet current PhD students.

The funding will train students in world-class bioscience to lead the next industrial revolution and boost the economy by building on UK strengths in agriculture, food, industrial biotechnology, bioenergy and health. The investment has been made by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The UK punches far beyond its weight in science and innovation globally, which is a credit to our talented scientists and first-class universities.

"This new funding will safeguard Britain's status as a world leader in life sciences and agricultural technology."

Copyright: University of Cambridge, Department of Plant Sciences
PhD student. Copyright: University of Cambridge, Department of Plant Sciences

Our future depends on a new generation of scientists trained to help tackle major challenges, such as the growing demand for food; the need to transform to more economically and environmentally sustainable industries and energy – developed from plants, bacteria, algae and fungi – to reduce dependency on fossil fuels; and maintaining health throughout life, reducing pressure on the healthcare system. Investing in bioscience research now, and supporting capabilities and skills, will enable to the UK to reap huge social and economic benefits in the future.

Excellent and highly skilled researchers are vital to achieving this, fuelling new discoveries. By investing in the skills base, BBSRC not only supports research but also helps to secure the nation's future, driving inward investment, creating new jobs and maintaining the UK's position as a global leader.

The funding has been awarded to leading universities and scientific institutions through Doctoral Training Partnerships that provide the best skills and training for PhD students. The strategic investment will ensure that researchers are trained in areas that will benefit the UK and will help to develop new industries, products and services.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Executive Director, Innovation and Skills: "Bioscience is having a massive impact on many aspects of our lives. BBSRC is paving the way for an explosion in new economic sectors and bioscience that will change the way we live our lives in the 21st century. To achieve this we need to maintain our leading position in global bioscience by ensuring that the next generation of scientists have the best training and skills."

Of the 1,250 students, 30% of students will be trained in agriculture and food security, 20% in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy, 10% in bioscience for health, and the remaining 40% in other world-class frontier bioscience to help fuel future discoveries.

"The next generation of bioscientists are our future and we must invest in them now," added Dr Caulcott.

Former BBSRC-funded PhD students are making huge impacts in these areas, such as: developing early warning sensors that alert farmers to diseased crops, reducing the use of antibiotics in the food chain, developing new coatings for medical devices to repel infection-causing bacteria, finding ways to use biological components in industry by protecting them from harsh environments in manufacturing, creating ways to study neurodegenerative diseases in the lab, developing drugs that can target the placenta in pregnancy, and helping to make new fuel sources from bacteria to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.



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£125M announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable for the next generation of scientists to drive the economy of the future

Funding allocations

Lead organisation Partner organisations Associate partners Funding over 5 years (£) Number of students each year
Imperial College London Royal Holloway University of London None 8M 16
John Innes Centre University of East Anglia, The Sainsbury Laboratory, Institute of Food Research, TGAC Plant Bioscience Ltd, The SAW Trust, The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital 12.5M 25
Newcastle University University of Liverpool, Durham University None 4M 8
University College London King's College London, Royal Veterinary College, Birkbeck College, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary University of London None 15M 30
University of Bristol University of Bath, Cardiff University, University of Exeter, Rothamsted Research None 8M 16
University of Cambridge EMBL-EBI, National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), Babraham Institute, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Animal Health Trust None 15M 30
The University of Edinburgh University of Dundee, University of Aberdeen, University of St Andrews Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance, The James Hutton Institute, Scotland's Rural College 7.5M 15
University of Leeds The University of Sheffield, University of York Food and Environment Research Agency, Research Complex at Harwell 11M 22
The University of Manchester None None 6M 12
The University of Nottingham Rothamsted Research, East Malling Research, Diamond Light Source Research Complex at Harwell, Centre for Process Innovation's National Industrial Biotechnology Facility, Crops for the Future Research Centre (Kuala Lumpur) 12.5M 25
University of Oxford The Pirbright Institute, Diamond Light Source, STFC Central Laser Facility, ISIS Neutron Source, Oxford Brookes University Research Complex at Harwell 12.5M 25
The University of Warwick University of Birmingham, University of Leicester None 13M 26


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £484M (2013-2014), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see:
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see:

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