Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Research Councils Refocus Priorities

As well as the changes at the ESRC, the other Research Councils have announced changes to their funding priorities in light of the Government's budget allocation, which saw 3% cut from all except the MRC:

AHRC:
  • Capital funding will be cut entirely;
  • It will ditch the Creative and Performing Arts Fellowships, Practice-led Research Grants and Applied Route KT Fellowships and Catalyst schemes;
  • It will introduce 4 priorites: digital transformations; translating cultures; care for the futre, and science in culture. In addition, it will invest in 3 areas of 'strategic need': modern languages, design and heritage.
  • It will also increase investment in cross council programmes, especially 'connected communities', 'living with environmental change' and the 'digital economy'.
  • It will up its investment in 'impact' activities, including knowledge transfer, and 'creative economy hubs'.
  • Full Delivery Plan available here.
BBSRC:
  • There's a suggestion in the Plan that it will move away from blue skies research: “The intention over this period is to effect a greater alignment of the basic underpinning bioscience investment into the critical strategic priorities within the available funding envelope.”
  • Most of the funding cut will be shouldered by research grants (cut by 6%), although fellowships will take a bigger percentage hit (from £9m to £6m);
  • As with the other councils, it will plough more into impact/knowledge exchange activity;
  • Thus, its priorities will be industrial biotechnology, food security and bioenergy;
  • It will also increase its contributions to cross-council programmes;
  • Full Delivery Plan is available here.
EPSRC:
  • EPSRC is positioning itself as a 'sponsor' rather than a 'funder', so it's seeking to provide more strategic leadership, and encourage collaboration with industry.
  • Capital funding cut by 50%. The EPSRC wants to see more sharing of facilities as a result;
  • It will focus on 4 main themes: maufacturing, energy, the digital economy and healthcare technologies. Funding in these areas will increase over the period, whereas more general responsive mode funding will decrease by c£58m pa by the end of the period (2015);
  • Full Delivery Plan available here.
NERC:
  • Big cuts to its own institutes;
  • However, it will increase external grant funding by £23m by end of period (2015);
  • The Plan seems to draw back from international focus, instead emphasising the importance of meeting national objectives;
  • It also wants to 'concentrate' funding in fewer organisations, although it already gives 4/5ths of its money to just 25 institutions;
  • As with others, it's encouraging more interaction with external organisations, for instance in renewable energy and risk management.
  • Full Delivery Plan available here.
MRC:
  • MRC was the only Research Council to see an increase in funding.
  • Much of the income rise is set to come from a change in policy that will see the council keep more of the money it makes from commercialisation. This will be reinvested in developing translational medicine.
  • Full Delivery Plan is available here.
STFC:
  • STFC has split its budget into three streams in order to protect its grants funding from the demands of international activities and currency fluctuations, from which it has taken a hit in the past;
  • Full Delivery Plan available here.

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