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Top UK labs to receive new equipment and upgraded facilities from £103 million government fund

UK science and research facilities will receive £103 million for upgrading the UK’s world class research infrastructure and opening the doors for new breakthroughs.

  • £103 million funding to ensure UK’s best researchers have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities
  • Science and Technology Secretary Chloe Smith, appointed on maternity cover, visited the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge
  • the lab was one of several world class science institutions in the UK receiving a share of the UKRI funding

UK science and research facilities will receive a share of £103 million in government funding, aimed at upgrading the UK’s already world class research infrastructure and opening the doors for new scientific breakthroughs – Science and Technology Secretary has announced.

The investments will ensure UK researchers have access to the best labs and equipment they need to keep producing world-class science, helping to support world-changing scientific breakthroughs that can benefit us all while also meeting the PM’s priority to grow the economy and create jobs across the UK.

Funding recipients will use the investment to provide new state-of-the-art equipment for their world-leading scientists or upgrades to existing facilities, and they are based across the country, including in Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Leicester, Bristol, Hull, Nottingham, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Belfast, Warwick and Southampton.

The funding demonstrates the government’s continued backing for the UK science community, taking forward vision of the UK’s Science and Technology Framework published earlier this year to ensuring we have the infrastructure needed to attract talent and investment, and support world-leading science and innovation.

The £103 million additional funding support is comprised of £79.3 million as part of the £150 million in funding announced to address the impacts of the ongoing delay in UK association to the EU’s Horizon Europe programme and £23.7 million as part of the £370 million announcement to forge a better Britain through investment in science and technology.

Science and Technology Secretary Chloe Smith recently said:

Our world-class science and technology sectors are the engine for growth in the UK economy, and the basis for scientific and technological advancements that will improve everyone’s lives.

These sectors need continued, concentrated backing from the government and I am determined to provide it during my time as Science and Technology Secretary, through funding such as this, which will ensure our world class labs have the infrastructure and equipment to match their status.

This comes alongside the first official visit conducted by Science and Technology Secretary Chloe Smith, who took over on 28 April as maternity cover for Michelle Donelan, ensuring the department’s work could continue in earnest over the next few months.

She was visiting the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, benefiting from the funding, where the Nobel prize-winning scientists have been pioneering electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM), a technique that allows scientists to study the structures of biological molecules, such as proteins and viruses, at extremely high resolution. They do this by freezing molecules to very low temperatures, then using a special microscope that shoots beams of electrons through the sample, which produces an image of the molecule.

The funding provided to the lab is being used on new state-of-the art equipment, enabling the scientists to see proteins in even greater detail, potentially giving them a much greater understanding of human diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

This could in turn revolutionise our approach to these preventable diseases, providing the basis for scientists to design more powerful drugs to prevent them, potentially improving and saving thousands of lives.

Some examples of funding recipients include:

  • the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) for new equipment to enable a much greater understanding of human diseases and the design of powerful drugs against them
  • the National Oceanography Centre’s state-of-the-art deep-sea research facility for a new sediment core scanner
  • UK Digital Heritage Centre at the University of Liverpool to fund cutting edge facilities that will pioneer a new approach to preserving, promoting and progressing cultural heritage through technologies such as AI, Blockchain and the Metaverse

UKRI International Champion, Professor Christopher Smith, recently said:

This crucial support for UK research infrastructure is part of the package of support provided by government so that our research and innovation communities can carry on with their essential work notwithstanding the delay to association with Horizon Europe.

The investments, made across the UK, will provide UK researchers with advanced equipment, facilities and technology, and help maintain the UK’s position as a leader in research and innovation.

This support will ensure the UK is an attractive place for scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to live, work and innovate.

Notes to Editors

Please see below for the breakdown of funding. Please note that this funding uplifted existing World Class Labs programmes.

Digital research infrastructure – £8.7 million

Funding of £6.7 million for the Distributed Research using Advanced Computing (DiRAC), an integrated supercomputing facility currently predominantly used for research in particle physics and astronomy.

Funding of £2 million towards the multi-million-pound National High-Performance Computing facilities ISAMBARD which is led out of University of Bristol and is an alliance across the Cray Inc, Met Office and the GW4 alliance.

Facilities and equipment – £61.7 million

Maintaining capability with core biomedical equipment, UK-wide

£24.7 million funding to support key items of biomedical equipment from values of £14,000 to £6 million, at 28 UK institutions. Investments include: 

  • the Nobel prize-winning pioneers of electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) will be equipped with the latest cryo-EM capability that will enable the scientists to see proteins in atomic detail. Understanding the atomic structure of proteins enables a much greater understanding of human diseases and the design of powerful drugs against them. A microscopic X-ray scanner will also be installed to enable the precise mapping of all nerve cells in the brains of animals by electron microscopy
  • new DNA sequencing capability at Hull University Teaching Hospital
  • magnetoencephalography (MEG) technology funding for the University of Nottingham
  • state-of-the-art pre-clinical radiotherapy platform at King’s College London
  • modernising the Electron Microscopy capabilities at the University of Glasgow

Enhancing grants to deliver creative research capability through renewing, repurposing and upgrading equipment and research facilities, UK-wide

£18.7 million increased investment to support the development of world-class research and development capabilities, improve the visibility and resilience of practice-led research sectors within the arts and humanities, and support the UK’s creative and cultural economy through further funding for the sector’s critical infrastructure. Investments include:

  • robotics Living Lab and Work In Progress Space for developing innovative manufacturing to support SME fashion designer/fabricator businesses at Manchester Fashion Institute (Manchester Metropolitan University)
  • upgrade of Production Arts IT infrastructure to deploy state-of-the-art equipment in order to explore the research potential of visual effects and extended reality through providing access to world-class technical facilities, and facilitate access to the skills and knowledge of existing and additional industry partners at Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  • creating immersive experience systems with accessibility as the fundamental theme, with new equipment catering to more people, including those with additional access needs at Historic Environment Scotland
  • SHIFT – Shared Hub for Immersive Future Technologies – will deliver new facilities that brings together artist-researchers across the disciplines of film, sound and performance to explore the potential in the latest immersive tools and technologies at the University of Greenwich
  • The Bridge, a new laboratory at UWE Bristol will unite arts, humanities, and technologies researchers within a unique, interdisciplinary ‘collision space’
  • renewing and upgrading the 14CHRONO facility at Queens University, Belfast, a high-precision radiocarbon dating and isotope analysis laboratory

Boosting Core Equipment for Engineering and Physical Sciences, UK-wide

£16.7 million investment for equipment to support and maintain competitiveness for UK researchers across 50 institutions, to include delivering improved polymer science and data collection capabilities. As well as a funding stream for digital core capability to allow access to HPC resources, software and training. Investments include:  

  • £225,000 towards a Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry system and XRD detector upgrades for the University of Warwick
  • Ulster University will invest in the Digital Twins research space with specific emphasis on applications to digital healthcare technologies

Maintaining capability at cutting edge of environmental science research

Funding of £1.6 million for support services and facilities across 5 institutions which help deliver unique and in-demand capability to the UK’s environmental science community. Investments include:

  • £594,000 funding for an Itrax FleXRay X-ray fluorescence (XRF) sediment core scanner based at the National Oceanography Centre’s core repository and core scanning facility “BOSCORF”, the UK’s largest deep-sea sediment repository and state of the art research facility, providing the only wet/dry sediment Itrax FlexRay scanner in the UK
  • £375,000 funding for ARGUS VI noble gas mass spectrometer at the National Environmental Isotope Facility (NEIF) at SUERC (Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre) in Glasgow. The mass spectrometers are used to help determine the ages, durations and rates for Earth system processes on timescales from the present to the formation of the solar system. The ARGUS VI will keep the facility at the forefront of geochronology, with improved data quality and throughput for users

Estates – £32.7 million

Investment into STFC estates £24.3 million

An investment to provide upgrades to the national laboratories across the UK including Edinburgh, Daresbury, and Harwell which underpin fundamental research in astronomy, physics and space science. The investments include high energy lasers, AI and quantum computing, particle physics and particle accelerator development, scientific instrumentation development for ground and space-based astronomy, advanced digital technologies to upskill industry and the research community, high performance computing and scientific software.

Investment into NERC estates – £8.4 million

Investment in maintaining and improving NERC estates, including funding for the UK’s internationally significant Antarctic Research Infrastructure, upgrading research ships that carry out oceanographic research in extreme and remote environments, and carbon improvements to move towards the UK’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.


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