Changes to EPSRC funding

13 March 2008

The RSC welcomes the announcement by the EPSRC that priority for research funding will be given to major challenges. These challenges must be ambitious and challenging, maximising the synergies from interdisciplinary research programmes to provide the maximum benefit to society. 

We welcome the EPSRC's assurances in the latest issue of their Newsletter "Connect" that 'The largest portion of our funding over the Spending Review period will go into our support for a healthy research base. This will provide an essential platform for the sort of open-ended, globally competitive research which supports a vibrant and sustainable research environment and ensures the UK is well placed to respond to future challenges'.  

The RSC also welcomes the EPSRC commitment to 'encourage the development of 'Grand Challenges' - in particular those that 'will be developed by communities, as is being currently trialled in chemistry.'

Our support comes with a critical caveat. Pooling funding and the increased emphasis on applied research could lead to fundamental blue skies research being starved of strategic funding, eroding the UK's leading position in the chemical sciences. 

Pooled funding for big challenges should not be at the expense of significantly reducing the support for outstanding basic research into the chemical sciences, which is crucial to success in all of the EPSRC's priority areas and underpins key UK industries. 

For example, pharmaceuticals - a world class UK industry - depends heavily on the marriage of ground-breaking molecular science with the biological sciences, stemming from a continuing excellent academic science base. We damage this at our peril.

Contact and Further Information

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