Science and Technology Facilities Council
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STFC scientific research delivers lasting results for the UK: report

Investment in scientific research is delivering real economic, international and societal benefits to the United Kingdom, and helping secure a more prosperous economic base for the future, according to a new report issued yesterday by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Highlights from the Research Performance and Economic Impact Report include: 

  • UK leads the world in astronomy and particle physics research, and is in second place for nuclear physics as measured by the number of citations of research papers across the G8 in  scientific journals in 2010.  As the UK sponsor of astronomy, particle physics and nuclear physics, STFC invests £98 million through grants to UK universities and research institutes that support 439 Principal Investigators and their research teams.
  • Creating jobs and supporting economic growth through STFC’s role as a partner in the national science and innovation campuses at Daresbury and Harwell; by providing support and facilities to the 100 SMEs located at DSIC (these companies increased employee numbers by 13% and attracted £24M in sales in 2010/11); by licensing STFC technology or creating spin-out companies (56 patent families, 15 spin-outs, 88 high tech jobs all created since 2002); helping UK companies win contracts to supply international projects such as CERN (£9.5 million in 2010/11 and a total of £16M since 2008) and the European Southern Observatory (£2 million in 2010/11 and a total of £19.5M since 2008).
  • Innovations for healthcare by addressing the common cause of blindness in the UK by helping to repair retinas in a project with Moorfields Eye Hospital; a laser system for accurately measuring the chemical composition of medicines through their packaging which could reduce the prevalence of counterfeit drugs in developing countries; and the application of an astrophysics algorithm which can be used to stabilise MRI images and enable young children to be scanned without anaesthetic (enabled by the University of Edinburgh spin-out Blackford Analysis and  supported by STFC).
  • Ensuring a world class skills base by funding the training of 830 astronomy, particle physics or nuclear physics PhD students (more than half of our PhD students continue their careers in research, while others work in industry and the public sector); using our large-scale facilities and expertise to train PhD and post-doctoral students in the latest experimental techniques addressing the skills gap in advanced engineering with specialist training for technicians in industry (STFC is a founding partner in OXETA, an Oxfordshire-based collaboration); recruiting the best graduates (voted the top public sector recruiter in scientific research and development); helping to inspire more than 12,000 school students to study STEM subjects through visits to STFC laboratories. 

Commenting on the report, Professor John Womersley, STFC Chief Executive Officer said: “As a publicly funded organisation, it is essential that we continuously demonstrate the benefits to the UK and global society of our investments in research. This report demonstrates how STFC is responding to some of the biggest challenges facing society, such as climate change and global security, by applying the science and technology that we have developed through our curiosity-led research. We’re also ensuring that the UK has a strong skills base to support the high level of innovation we will need for future economic growth and stability.”
“Curiosity-led research remains a vital part of our work.  Like the discovery of the electron or the laser, sometimes you don’t know how that knowledge can be applied, or predict the economic benefits, until many years later.”

STFC’s Research Performance and Economic Impact Report 2011 (PDF - 4220kB - link opens in a new window) is available on the STFC web site.


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