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Four Scottish universities to benefit from £1 billion investment in new technologies

Four Scottish universities, including ScotlandIS members, will benefit from a UK-wide £1 billion investment in new technologies including AI, green tech, quantum computing, semiconductors and telecoms.

The universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt will all be supported through a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding package unleashing new innovation.

Under the plans, 65 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) centres for doctoral training (CDTs) totalling more than £1 billion will be established across the UK.

Heriot-Watt will ‘prepare research leaders for a just transition and explore how technologies such as carbon capture, green hydrogen and sustainable fuels’ can support industry and net zero.

The University of Edinburgh will lead a Ministry of Defence-funded (MOD) centre, focusing on on sensing, processing and AI for defence and security systems.

Professor Alastair Florence at the University of Strathclyde will lead on a Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber-physical systems for Medicines Development and Manufacturing (CEDAR).

And Professor Stefan Kuhr, at the same university, will lead an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Applied Quantum Technologies.

Others include:

  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Use-Inspired Photonic Sensing and Metrology: Led by Professor Derryck Reid, Heriot-Watt University
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Green Industrial Futures: Led by Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Heriot-Watt University
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in “Diversity led, mission-driven research”: Led by Dr Marie Muellenbroich, University of Glasgow
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Algebra, Geometry and Quantum Fields (AGQ): Led by Professor Tara Brendle, University of Glasgow
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Machine Learning Systems: Led by Professor Amos Storkey, The University of Edinburgh
  • EPSRC and MOD Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensing, Processing, and AI for Defence and Security (SPADS): Led by Professor James Hopgood, The University of Edinburgh
  • EPSRC Industrial Centre for Doctoral Training in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE): Led by Professor David Ingram, The University of Edinburgh
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantum Informatics: Led by Dr Christiaan Johan Marie Heunen, The University of Edinburgh

‘As innovators across the world break new ground faster than ever, it is vital that government, business and academia invests in ambitious UK talent, giving them the tools to pioneer new discoveries that benefit all our lives while creating new jobs and growing the economy,” said Michelle Donelan, Science and Technology Secretary, UK Government.

“By targeting critical technologies including artificial intelligence, and future telecoms, we are supporting world class universities across the UK to build the skills base we need to unleash the potential of future tech and maintain our country’s reputation as a hub of cutting-edge research and development.”

Professor Tara Brendle, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Mathematics & Statistics, is one of the co-directors of the CDT. She said: “At the heart of AGQ is a drive to shorten two key timescales that will help drive innovation in the science and technology sectors. The first is the delay between abstraction and application – the translation of mathematical theories into practical tools that can be used for real-world benefit. The second is how long it can take for newly-minted PhDs to become leaders in their chosen field. 

“This CDT aims to deliver graduates from diverse backgrounds who are fluent in the rapid transformation of mathematics as previously distinct fields become more and more unified, and can be of immediate value across a wide range of employment once they complete their studies.”

Derryck Reid, Professor and photonics expert in HeriotWatt’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said the science of photonic sensing and metrology – using light to create highly advanced detection and measurement tools – was vital to addressing challenges in sectors including transport, energy, manufacturing, medicine, food production and security – but was hampered by a lack of specialist researchers.

“Photonics is the fifth most productive manufacturing sector in the UK and generates £14.5 billion annually across 1,200 firms with 76,000 staff,” Professor Reid said. “Photonic sensing and metrology is part of this sector that’s vital to our economy. But there aren’t enough professional-level researchers who understand this field and also have high-level business, management and communication skills.”

Professor Charlotte Deane, EPSRC Executive Chair, said: “The Centres for Doctoral Training announced today will help to prepare the next generation of researchers, specialists and industry experts across a wide range of sectors and industries.

“Spanning locations across the UK and a wide range of disciplines, the new centres are a vivid illustration of the UK’s depth of expertise and potential, which will help us to tackle large-scale, complex challenges and benefit society and the economy.”

Source: Futurescot

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