"The projected increase for chemical biology and biological chemistry is also welcome news. Advances in chemical understanding and techniques are essential to advances in human health, agriculture and technology, from treatments for cancer and dementia through to development of pesticides and fertilisers to sustainable fuels and feedstocks.
"Key to UK sustainable energy futures and new business opportunities is the projected increase in share for energy storage and in materials for energy. That will build on the UK’s strength in advanced materials design and development for applications ranging from solar energy and sustainable fuels to batteries, fuel cells and hydrogen storage.
"We will of course monitor the ‘reduce’ areas – where the share of the portfolio is projected to decrease – so will listen to feedback from our community and raise any concerns with the EPSRC."
Committed to funding excellent research
Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: "Balancing Capability is an important tool, together with our other strategies of Accelerating Impact and Building Leadership, to help us to deliver against the goals in our Strategic Plan and the four Prosperity Outcomes (Productive, Connected, Resilient and Healthy Nation) in our Delivery Plan.
"We are committed to funding excellent research across our portfolio, and, similarly, to maintaining the right conditions for supporting the best researchers to explore their ideas. Excellence is always the primary consideration as judged by peer review. Regardless of any designation and suggested trajectory for a research area, we will continue to support the highest quality research wherever it arises.
"We are in constant conversation with the academic community, finding out what is developing and where talent lies. So this exercise is not an isolated process and we remain flexible and responsive to changes and discoveries. We recognise how integral the sciences and engineering are to the country’s success but we also know that resources are limited and we have to assess where we need to focus funds strategically.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have contributed to Balancing Capability from those that have input into our Call for Evidence, with over 1,000 pieces of evidence received, and also thank all our advisory teams and networks that have helped us review this evidence and support our decision making.”
Each piece of evidence was considered in relation to the whole portfolio in order to make well informed decisions. Each research area is accompanied by a ‘rationale’ which states the reasons for the strategic direction for each research area.
EPSRC explain that the research area strategies have been developed to align with their Delivery Plan and will help achieve a ratio, committed to by EPSRC’s Council, of 60 per cent community-led and 40 per cent strategic intervention by 2021. This balance will be achieved by encouraging the research community to continue to work together, across disciplines, and to develop challenges and proposals that are less directed by topic-specific, time bound calls.