Page last updated at 04:05 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

£250m for new wave of scientists

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A quarter of a billion pounds is to be invested in training scientists and engineers to tackle the problems Britain faces in the future.

The £250m will be used to create 44 training centres across the UK and fund more than 2,000 PhD students.

It is hoped they will develop solutions to major concerns such as climate change and energy issues.

The investment was announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The EPSRC, which is the UK's funding body for science and engineering, hopes the new centres for doctoral training will quickly become internationally renowned.

It said they will tackle subjects as diverse as managing scarce water resources, keeping the UK's aerospace industry competitive and developing artificial organs for patients.

It's given me much wider horizons in things that I can research
Duncan Casey
Student

Students at the Security Science centre at University College London will learn how to combat terrorism by developing new technologies, studying human behaviour and exploring how organisations can be vulnerable to both cyber and physical threats.

Centre director Professor Gloria Laycock, who is also director of the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, said: "We aim to transform the way security is done."

Duncan Casey, a student at Imperial College in London, said he has already benefited from the scheme in its trial stage.

"It's given me much wider horizons in things that I can research and people that I can work with in order to study how drugs get around the body and whether we can improve it," he told BBC Breakfast.

"None of this would really have been possible without this extra doctor training funding."

Lord Drayson, Minister for Science and Innovation, said the centres would create a "new wave" of scientific minds.

"Britain faces many challenges in the 21st Century and needs scientists and engineers with the right skills to find answers to these challenges, build a strong economy and keep us globally competitive," he said.

"This is an exciting, innovative approach to training young researchers and will help build a better future for Britain."

Professor Dave Delpy, chief executive of EPSRC, said: "We want to drive a modern economy and meet the challenges of tomorrow by investing in talented people and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers."



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