£15 million boost for collaborative research

Up to £15 million of investment is being made to support nuclear research and development (R&D) in the supply chain, following a joint initiative by Government organisations.

The announcement was made at the end of a showcase event at the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) in Rotherham. The event, Collaboration Nation, highlighted a number of innovative projects that had previously received funding from the Government’s Technology Strategy Board[1] (TSB).

The latest investment is being made by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills-backed TSB, the NDA, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council[2] (EPSRC) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change[3] (DECC):

  • Up to £12 million will be made available for business-led Collaborative R&D projects.
  • Up to £2 million will be made available for Feasibility Studies, which must be collaborative projects led by an SME.
  • The remaining £1 million will be made available for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), which support the transfer of knowledge and skills from academia into industry.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“This is an important and exciting time for the UK civil nuclear industry. With potential for investment and innovation in the new-build and decommissioning markets, now is the right time to make sure that the UK is best placed to win orders and grow global market share.

“That’s why we are launching this substantial new funding programme to enhance innovation and capability development and expand the UK nuclear industry to provide rewarding careers and contribute towards more stable and balanced economic growth.”

The investment will support innovative technologies that can be used in all sectors of the civil nuclear industry, including construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, waste management and decommissioning. The NDA contribution of up £3 million is aligned with projects related to its decommissioning mission.

Dr Melanie Brownridge, NDA Head of R&D, said: 

“The NDA is committed to encouraging innovation as it progresses the safe decommissioning of the UK’s first generation of nuclear facilities. We see investment in R&D as a key element in this long-term mission and are therefore delighted to be working with Technology Strategy Board, EPSRC and DECC in promoting opportunities for collaborative innovation projects across the supply chain and academia.” 

The investment will be allocated through a competitive process, with applicants required to show how they will help strengthen the UK supply chain while contributing to the high-level, long-term challenge of developing cost-effective and safe solutions with high reliability and durability in the nuclear sector. They must also take account of the key issues of regulation, health and safety and non-proliferation.

The targeted call for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) will be run in parallel with the other competitions. The opening date for the competitions and targeted call is 2 July 2012.

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