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Academies announce additional £108 million over the next three years for investing in talented researchers

22 June 2018

As part of the UK Government’s Investment in Research Talent, the Academy of Medical Sciences, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineers and the Royal Society have secured £108 million pounds over the next three years (2018- 2021)* to support, attract and retain the best research talent to the UK. The funding was announced in a speech earlier today by Business Secretary Greg Clark, as part of the Government’s plans to build the pipeline of high-skilled research talent in the UK.

Academy of Medical Sciences

The funding the Academy of Medical Sciences has secured, £11.2 million pounds over the next 3 years (2018-2021), will support three innovative programmes. Each of their schemes provides support to exceptional researchers, spanning the range of career levels within the biomedical and health sciences. 

The funding will support 60 Springboard awards where biomedical researchers receive up to £100k each over two years to establish their independent research programmes, as well as access to the Academy's acclaimed mentoring programme and suite of career development training opportunities. 

The Academy of Medical Sciences will award eight Rising Stars Professorships, a new programme to attract emerging talent from across the globe to the UK. The funding package includes £500k for each Rising Stars Professorship; the recruiting Higher Education Institution would also provide supplementary funding. Each award will be for a duration of up to five years and will enable outstanding individuals to be awarded £500k to establish their research teams in the UK. 

The Talent Fund will also support the first cohorts of an innovative programme designed to develop future leaders. This scheme will work across sectors including academe, industry, NHS and government to develop leaders who can create collaborations and partnerships that will drive new innovations across the life sciences, for the benefit of all. 

Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: 

“The finest science requires the finest researchers. If we are going to solve the biggest health challenges and harness opportunities, we need to attract and nurture the most talented researchers within our network of trailblazing scientists in the UK.

“Excitingly, this funding from The Talent Fund allows the Academy to develop a unique cross-sector leadership scheme that will support today’s biomedical and health researchers to become tomorrow’s leaders of innovation. It will support talented researchers in the middle of their careers to understand academe, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, the NHS and government and forge new collaborations across these traditional boundaries and enhance their dynamic leadership skills. 

“The funds will also support 60 Springboard grants for biomedical researchers at the start of their independent careers and eight Rising Stars Professorships, establishing the research careers of talented researchers. 

“Together these programmes will support researchers to ensure their talent is recognised, supported and nourished throughout their career. These researchers will help further high quality, innovative research to improve the health of our society.”

The British Academy

The British Academy has secured a total of £31.5 million to support excellent research in the humanities and social sciences in the UK and internationally over three annual rounds (2018-2020).

The British Academy’s new Global Professorship scheme will allow 30 leading international mid-career and senior academics in the humanities and social sciences to study at UK institutions.

Successful applicants to this competitive scheme will be based at a UK university and will undertake research designed to further the UK’s international reputation in these subjects, through enhanced research partnerships and collaborations. 

Funding will also support an additional 30 British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships over the next three years. Running for over 30 years, this scheme is a significant career opportunity for outstanding early career academics, by enabling them to undertake a significant piece of publishable research and to develop their experience in UK universities.

Professor David Cannadine, President of the British Academy, said:

“We are delighted to be able to expand opportunities for international collaboration and early-career research in the humanities and social sciences. 

“The challenges that we face as a nation and as an international community - from the march of automation to improving productivity – will require collaboration from the very best minds, working across disciplines.

“It is timely, therefore, that the national academies are working together to further the UK’s reputation as a destination for world-leading research.

“We also look forward to supporting further early-career researchers closer to home through the Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme, which is often a vital stepping stone to establishing a successful academic career.”

Royal Academy of Engineering

In recognition of the importance of engineering research and innovation to the UK, the Royal Academy of Engineering has secured £20.11 million over the next three years**, to support expanded programmes for excellent engineers.

The funding will allow the Academy to fund 25 Chairs in Emerging Technologies, providing long-term funding for up to 10 years to engineering global-visionaries. This includes a start-up package of £300k and expanded support for research costs throughout the life of the grant. Each of the Chairs will focus on developing emerging technologies that have the potential to bring significant economic and societal benefits to the UK. 

The Talent Fund will also enable the Academy to support an additional 23 early-career engineering academics to develop their research careers through the Academy’s Research Fellows scheme, and a further 24 Enterprise Fellowships will equip entrepreneurial engineers with the necessary skills, experience and networks of expert advisors to develop their outstanding innovations.

At least 44 further awards will help strengthen the Academy's commitment to supporting academic engagement with industry, including a relaunch of the Industrial Fellowship scheme, new initiatives to help researchers engage with the SME partners of their industrial sponsors and proof of concept funding for award holders to help them prove their innovations will be successful. 

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“We are delighted by this extra investment by the UK government in supporting the finest engineering researchers and innovators, an important contribution to addressing the Academy’s strategic challenge of making the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation as well as reinforcing the government’s Industrial Strategy.

“This sustained investment in engineering research will enable us to run annual calls for Chairs in Emerging Technologies, allowing universities to make long-term plans on how to attract global leaders in priority areas of innovation to work in the UK. Similarly, doubling the number of our Research, Industrial, and Enterprise Fellowship schemes will support the best rising research and innovation talent. These engineers will contribute to the development of services and products that benefit the economy and society, repaying many times the value of this investment. 

“To help ensure our researchers’ achievements are fully commercialised, we will also be introducing a new proof of concept funding scheme and continuing and broadening our support for our researchers to work with the SMEs associated with their larger partners. To make sure the right people benefit from this funding, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that we support excellent engineers from a diverse range of backgrounds in as inclusive a manner as possible.”

The Royal Society

The Royal Society has secured £45.39 million pounds over the next three years to support outstanding research leaders of the future and current world-class leading scientists in the UK across the natural sciences remit. 

The funding will support up to 10 additional early career Research Fellowships to be appointed as part of the University Research Fellowship and Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship schemes. Enhanced research support will also be offered to all newly appointed University Research Fellows and Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellows to support their research and enable them to build a team. 

Both schemes provide outstanding early career scientists the opportunity to become leaders in their fields and establish independent research careers. In addition, the Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship is particularly aimed at researchers who require a flexible working pattern at time of application, due to personal circumstances such as parenting or caring responsibilities.

Up to 12 world class scientists will be recruited and retained in the UK through the Royal Society Research Professorships, with up to four awarded per year. These prestigious posts provide long-term support to established scientists who are already making outstanding contributions to science, opening up new opportunities for them to continue their exceptional work. Each recipient will receive an enhanced package of £500k start-up costs to support their research and team.

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: 

“We are delighted by this crucial investment in science researchers from the UK government. This money will be used to support scientists during crucial stages of their careers, whether they have been identified as future leaders in their fields and are just starting an independent research career, or are well-established, world-leading talent that we want to retain in the UK. This investment in scientists at both stages of their careers is crucial to the continued success of UK science”.


*The Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, British Academy, and Academy of Medical Sciences will collectively receive a total amount of £350 million for their fellowship schemes, up until 2030. 

**The Royal Academy of Engineering will receive £86 million in funding for their fellowship schemes up until 2030.