North East universities win £28m to develop world-leading scientists

Universities in the North East are aiming to develop some of the key technologies needed to tackle society’s most pressing challenges after receiving more than £28m to attract world-leading scientists to the region.

Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham universities have been awarded money to set up research centres that aim to develop experts in areas such as molecular sciences, power electronics, renewable energy and soft matter.

Newcastle University alone will lead three new Centres for Doctoral Training to develop expertise in designing future cities, enabling the transition from fossil fuels to electric vehicles and designing new drugs to fight disease.

Northumbria University will work with Newcastle and Durham on a national centre for renewable energies, while Durham’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Soft Matter for Formulation and Industrial Innovation will see research into smart surfaces, recyclable plastics and new medicines.

The projects are among 75 new Centres for Doctoral Training being announced by the Government which aim to improve the UK’s record on research and development (R&D) and ultimately boost the economy by turning academic research into everyday products and services.

Prof Colin Bain, director of the research centre at Durham University, said: “This is a great opportunity for students who want to expand our understanding of complex materials, but who also want to work on real-life applications. The exciting all-round training programme will prepare them for a career in business or academia.

“Our students work closely with industry partners on their research and go on to work in high-skilled jobs across many industrial sectors.”

Nationally, nearly £450m will today be awarded to universities around the UK in what is being described as one of the UK’s most significant investments in research.

Science and Innovation Minister Chris Skidmore said: “As we explore new research to boost out economy with an increase of over £7bn 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 £400m 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.”

Read more at Chronicle Live

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