University wins slice of £350million grant to train scientists and entrepreneurs

Minister for Universities and Science David Willets
Minister for Universities and Science David Willets
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DURHAM University has clinched part of a £350million grant to train the next generation of scientists, engineers, industrial leaders and entrepreneurs.

The Government funding will link postgraduate students with industry in the field of soft matter, polymers and colloids – materials found in everyday items from toothpaste and food, to paint and cars.

These, ministers hope, will underpin solutions for societal challenges, such as low-carbon impact transportation, renewable energy and smart therapeutics.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts today announced that the Durham-led bid would receive a share of funding awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Additional funding will come from Durham University, its academic partners the Universities of Edinburgh and Leeds, and a consortium of 18 industrial partners. Through the new EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces, opening at Durham University next autumn, 16 PhD studentships a year for five consecutive years will be available providing post- graduate students with the opportunity to work across different disciplines including chemistry, physics, food science, mathematical sciences and engineering and computing sciences.

All students will spend the first six months of the four-year studentship at Durham University before completing their PhD training at Durham, Edinburgh or Leeds.

Professor Tom McLeish, pro-vice-chancellor (research) at Durham University and director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training, said: “The centre will provide students with a tremendous opportunity to conduct research into a branch of science that touches all of our everyday lives, allowing them to get international and industrial experience at the same time.”

In total, the EPSRC is investing £350million in 80 doctoral training centres across the UK in subjects including the sciences, mathematics and computing. Science Minister David Willetts said: “Scientists and engineers are vital to our economy and society. It is their talent and imagination, as well as their knowledge and skills, that inspire innovation and drive growth across a range of sectors, from manufacturing to financial services.”