Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced £125 million of funding over five years to support the training and development of more than 1,000 PhD students.
The University of Liverpool, in partnership with the universities of Newcastle and Durham, was one of the 12 successful applicants and will be awarded £4 million for studentships in agriculture and food security.
The funding will train students in biosciences to lead the next industrial revolution and boost the economy by building on UK strengths in agriculture, food, industrial biotechnology, bioenergy and health. The investment has been made by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
Professor Barry Hirst, from Newcastle University and Director of the BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership, said: “All three universities are pleased to play a key role in training students in the North of England as part of this national programme, helping to keep the region at the forefront of scientific development.”
Professor Graham Kemp from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, added: “Through additional funding from other sources, our BBSRC Doctoral Training partnership will be doubling this investment by BBSRC to ensure 80 students are trained in the partnership as part of this exciting national programme.”
The funding has been awarded to leading universities and scientific institutions through Doctoral Training Partnerships that provide the best skills and training for PhD students. The strategic investment will ensure that researchers are trained in areas that will benefit the UK and will help to develop new industries, products and services.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The UK punches far beyond its weight in science and innovation globally, which is a credit to our talented scientists and first-class universities.
“This new funding will safeguard Britain’s status as a world leader in life sciences and agricultural technology.”
Across the scheme, 30% of students will be trained in agriculture and food security, 20% in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy, 10% in bioscience for health, and the remaining 40% in other world-class frontier bioscience to help fuel future discoveries.
Former BBSRC-funded PhD students are making huge impacts in these areas, such as developing early warning sensors that alert farmers to diseased crops; reducing the use of antibiotics in the food chain; and creating ways to study neurodegenerative diseases in the lab.