Yorkshire a ‘hotbed of science’ as EU funding set to double

Heather Niven, head of Science City York. Picture: Mike Pinches

Heather Niven, head of Science City York. Picture: Mike Pinches

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A “SCIENTIFIC renaissance” has been hailed for Yorkshire as it was revealed the region is set to receive £743m in European funding for the booming science sector.

Horizon2020, the European Union’s flagship science funding programme, has more than doubled the amount it will invest in scientific projects in the region up to 2020, compared with £367m under the previous round of funding.

The figure is the highest of any region in the UK, and analysis of statistics by a pro-EU campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe shows that the UK as a whole is the single largest beneficiary of the programme, ahead of Germany, Spain, Italy and France.

The UK will see a 46 per cent increase in funding received in the next four years, up to £8.5bn - 20 per cent of all the grants signed off under the programme.

News of the increased Yorkshire funding has been welcomed by the head of Science City York, Heather Niven, who said it was “fantastic news” for both universities and business communities in the region. Science City York has been supporting bioscience, creative, digital and IT businesses in Yorkshire for the last 16 years.

She said the EU funding was just one of a host of recent investments in science in the region.

Ms Niven said: “We are experiencing a science renaissance here in Yorkshire at the moment, with the announcement from government of £50m to locate two new national centres in North Yorkshire focussing on Innovation; the new Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock and a Centre for Crop Health and Protection.

“Other new spaces which are accelerating science in the region include Bradford’s Digital Health Enterprise Zone connecting business and healthcare, Biovale and the Bio-renewables Development Centre in York to name a few. Y

“Yorkshire and the Humber is becoming a real hotbed of science innovation and the Horizon 2020 funding will allow the region to further develop cutting edge research, leveraging additional focus and investment in areas such as agri-food, agri-tech and life sciences industries. This is great news for us and at Science City York we are delighted to see this additional boost for the regions’ science organisations.”

Flagship studies funded by Horizon 2020 include research on Ebola, hybrid air vehicles, wastewater reuse, renewable packaging, intelligent manufacturing and fighting Parkinson’s disease

Former Science Minister David Willetts said: “Science in Yorkshire and the Humber has done very well out of EU research funding and this new analysis shows there is a good prospect of it doing even better in future.

“This is a fantastic multi-million-pound boost to the region’s universities and research institutes. As well as being crucial for high quality R&D in Yorkshire and the Humber, the funding illuminates the importance of Britain’s place in Europe more broadly. It goes beyond the immediate calculations of cash in and cash out, and shows the value of openness and collaboration in making British science great.”

Yorkshire firms benefit from EU funding

The Horizon2020 programme has a budget of £57bn for science and innovation programmes at SMEs and universities, running from 2014-2020.

So far 126 British SMEs have benefitted from Horizon 2020 funding, including some in Yorkshire.

James Robinson Fibres Limited in Bradford received 50,000 Euro to develop techniques to help in the recycling of hard-to-treat, post-consumer textile wastes; Sheffield-based Mudlark received the same amount to develop a mobile app that intelligently understands travel patterns, and Magnetic Systems Technology Ltd, based in Sheffield, received 1.4m Euro to bring to market its all-electric drive retrofit system for buses.

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