REF signals deep impact as EPSRC announces £30 million for Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA)

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The recently published results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) show that the impact of research funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has been both deep and long lasting.

Of the case studies covering engineering and physical sciences, 85 per cent of them involved EPSRC-supported researchers.

Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark, said: The UK boasts a global reputation for scientific excellence. As the recent REF results have shown, the research being funded by EPSRC is having a real and lasting impact. Enabling scientists to bridge the so-called ‘valley of death’ that lies between the lab and the marketplace is crucial for our economy and an important part of our Science and Innovation Strategy. Extending the Impact Acceleration Account will further bridge this gap, and will enable scientists to contribute towards successful businesses, taking ideas through to market.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: The REF results show that the research EPSRC supports is both excellent and has impact. Universities are using the Pathways to Impact process and Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs) to plan how their research is going to be communicated, translated and accelerated to users and moved further along the line.

Examples of EPSRC related REF case studies are:

  • Software tools based on artificial intelligence which are saving the NHS millions of pounds through more cost-efficient procurement
  • Mathematical modelling of extreme events which has enabled massive savings through the optimised design of coastal flood defences
  • New coatings for aircraft engines which are saving billions of pounds in reduced fuel costs as well as offering significant environmental benefits

EPSRC today announced a further £30 million which is to be allocated to universities to bring about impact through IAAs. This will build on the £60 million allocated in 2012 which gave awards ranging from £600,000 to £6 million to 31 universities across the UK.

Professor Nelson said: The last tranche of Impact Acceleration Accounts has not just impacted the research landscape, but changed it by making it easier for scientists to develop their ideas and to collaborate with industry.

IAAs help speed up the contribution that scientists make towards new innovation, successful businesses and the economic returns that benefit UK PLC.

For example, a novel electronic voting system stemming from an IAA has been deployed by the Victoria State Electoral Board of Australia in late 2014.

Further examples of recent IAA outcomes include:

  • Advanced composites work with BMW
  • Projects across healthcare, pharmaceuticals, energy, automotive, aerospace, robotics, manufacturing and computing
  • A device for rapid screening method for biopsies has been demonstrated to pathologists

One IAA is supporting SMEs in London’s Tech City – the growing technology hub based around Shoreditch.

Notes for editors

The EPSRC Research Performance and Economic Impact Report 2013/14 is also published today.

This is an annual report and incorporates highlights from the year including:

  • the launch of ARCHER, a new national high performance computing service which has already helped researchers to understand advanced materials at the nano-scale and modelled how air flows around Formula 1 racing cars and aircraft in order to improve fuel efficiency
  • a five year partnership with Shell which will identify opportunities for joint funding and postgraduate training
  • and a new iPad-based early-warning system for hospital patient monitoring being used by Oxford University Hospitals NHS.

There are 33 IAA-recipient universities across the UK university community, they are:

  • University of Bath
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • Brunel University
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Cardiff
  • Cranfield University
  • University of Durham
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Imperial College London
  • King’s College London
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • Loughborough University
  • The University of Manchester
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • Queen Mary University London
  • Queens University Belfast
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Swansea
  • UCL
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The EPSRC is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

Reference: PN 01-15

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