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Record year for new grants

13 September 2010

Leighton Andrews AMLeighton Andrews AM

The University has recorded its best-ever year for winning new research grants – at just under £150 million.

Welsh Assembly Government Education Minister Leighton Andrews has congratulated the University on the record total, describing it as "a major boost for the Welsh economy"

The total represents an increase of 73% on 2008-09 and a 36% increase on the University’s previous record of £110 million.

The achievement comes despite many funding bodies tightening their budgets and reflects concerted efforts made across the University to improve its success rate in securing research funds.

The success has been across the board, covering healthcare, the physical and social sciences, engineering, the arts and humanities. The funded projects will deliver direct benefits in many ways – to human health, to the environment, to the Welsh and UK economies and to cultural understanding.

Many of the significant awards secured this year will fund interdisciplinary research, supporting collaborative projects involving staff from a number of academic schools.

The School of Medicine alone won almost 200 new grants and contracts, totalling £74.3 million. There were also increases in the Schools of Architecture, Biosciences, Chemistry, Dentistry, Earth and Ocean Sciences, English, Communication and Philosophy, Engineering, Music, Psychology, History, Archaeology and Religion, Social Sciences, Nursing and Midwifery Studies and Welsh.

In total, the University won 780 new awards, worth £149.9 million. The University recorded an increased level of research awards across a wide range of funders, including European, UK and Welsh Government, the business sector and the UK Research Councils".

Examples included:

Unlocking immunity and infection – School of Medicine

Stem cell therapy for spinal cord injuries – School of Dentistry

Aircraft particulate emissions – School of Engineering

Islamic Gardens in the UK – School of History, Archaeology and Religion

Among the many other successful research projects winning significant funding were:

  • National Institute for Social Care and Health Research – providing a co-ordinating centre for a broad spectrum of clinical research across Wales
  • Developing new Low Carbon technologies for Wales
  • Evaluating substance misuse prevention programme for Welsh families
  • Unveiling the hidden universe
  • Development of energy-generating walls and roofs for buildings
  • New technologies for stem cell science
  • Preservation techniques for historic iron artefacts
  • Study of the rare books collection preserved for Wales
  • Improvement of Welsh language teaching to adults

The core research strength behind the University’s three new flagship research institutes was reflected in the funding success of many of their key players. Professor Alan Clarke, lead applicant on the Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, was involved in successful grants totalling more than £1 million from Cancer Research UK. The on-going work of the Welsh Cancer Bank in building up a research resource with cancer patients received £4 million from the Welsh Assembly Government.

Professor Julie Williams, of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute, who attracted world-wide headlines last year for her discoveries on the genetics of Alzheimers, received more than £1.1 million from the Medical Research Council for her continuing work. Her colleagues, Professors Michael O’Donovan and Mike Owen, Director of the Institute, were involved in a successful bid to The Wellcome Trust on the genetics of schizophrenia.

Many of this year’s awards had a bearing on sustainability, reflecting the cross-disciplinary nature of the Sustainable Places Research Institute. Professor Phil Jones, Head of the Wales School of Architecture, secured more than £30 million from the Welsh European Funding Office for the Low Carbon Research Institute – a Cardiff-led all-Wales project to establish a low carbon future for the nation. The Sustainable Places Research Institute’s director Professor Terry Marsden, was also part of a team charged by the Welsh Assembly Government with developing a food and drink strategy for Wales.

Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant said: "This year’s success is all the more impressive at a time when funding from all research bodies has tightened. The University is working hard to improve its success rate with bids to the research councils and is encouraging innovative and high quality proposals to a range of funders"

"These awards reflect confidence that Cardiff University research delivers real benefits to society, the environment and the economy. It is likely that the funding climate will be challenging for some years to come, but I am confident that Cardiff’s track record of excellent awards will allow us to build further on this year’s achievement."

Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, said:

"Cardiff University’s success in recording its best-ever year for winning new research funding is excellent news. Success at gaining external R&D funding is essential to Wales’ future competitiveness and is an absolutely crucial element of our For Our Future agenda and Economic Renewal Programme. This achievement is a major boost for the Welsh economy, both bringing in outside investment and ensuring strong collaboration between our Higher Education sector and industry.

"I would like to congratulate Cardiff University on its success which fully demonstrates that Wales has world-class centres of research excellence which can compete with the best."

Related links

The European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute
Neuroscience & Mental Health Research Institute
Sustainable Places Research Institute


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