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Friday, November 9, 2007

Funds freed up for UK innovation

More than £1 billion has been awarded in UK grants
UK pioneers of research into new materials, green energy and future communications will share a £100m government fund to back innovation.

More than 76 research and development projects covering eight technology priority areas will share the money.

The money has been made available through the Technology Strategy Board which promotes innovation in business.

The board has funded more than 700 projects with a total of £1bn since it was formed in 2004.

The new money for projects starting this year was announced by Innovation, Universities and Skills Secretary John Denham.

Pioneers in healthcare, green energy and business competitiveness will benefit, along with work on advanced cell therapies to treat wounds and eventually organs, and ways to allow patients with chronic conditions to be monitored from home.

Environmental priorities include better materials for use in wind and wave farms, efficient lighting for shop fronts and systems to better exploit small-scale local energy production.

Mr Denham said: "New research in these important eight key technology areas will make a real difference to the economy and to our lives.

"This is an excellent programme that fills the gap between pure science and industry
Dr Nicholas Warrior, Nottingham University

"Our work on innovation will help businesses to succeed and improve public services, meeting the challenges of the 21st century and enhancing people's life chances."

The new round of funding has been welcomed by the Science Council, the body which represents scientific bodies and professionals around the UK.

The council's chief executive Diana Garnham said the eight target areas touched "almost all areas of science, engineering, technology and mathematics".

She added: "The funding will involve many different types of professionals, not just in science and technology but in business as well."

Dr Nicholas Warrior, who received funding from previous rounds of the Technology Strategy Board, said the grants had made a huge difference to his research at Nottingham University.

"This is an excellent programme that fills the gap between pure science and industry.

"We would not have been able to pursue our work without the help of the Board."

Dr Warrior is working on research to develop advanced materials from recycling carbon fibre, which provide a lightweight and strong alternative to metals like steel.

Carbon fibre materials are often found in planes, boats, racing cars and body armour.

World production of carbon fibre is about 25,000 tonnes per year but it is difficult and costly to recycle.

Dr Warrior's research project aims to make the process of recovering carbon fibre from composite materials much simpler.

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