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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R029288/1
Title: Construction of the Rosalind Franklin Institute Hub
Principal Investigator: Phimister, Mr N
Other Investigators:
Naismith, Professor JH
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Head Office
Organisation: STFC Laboratories (Grouped)
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2017 Ends: 31 March 2020 Value (£): 4,051,979
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No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
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Summary on Grant Application Form
The Life Sciences sector forms a key part of the UK economy: it employs over 220,000 people, contributes significantly to GDP and UK balance of trade, and is crucial for developing leading-edge treatments for patients. It is underpinned by the UK's world-leading research base in the health and life sciences. Many key research breakthroughs are, in turn, enabled by advances in engineering and physical sciences (EPS) research - which provide ever more sophisticated instrumentation and methods to support the study of living organisms (from microbes to plants, animals and the human body) and biological processes (including both disease pathology and drug action).

R&D across all parts of this ecosystem - from fundamental understanding to applied research to product development - is crucial for the delivery of long-term economic growth and continued advances in agriculture, food security, healthcare and public health. Historic models of innovation have often been linear, involving a degree of serendipity. Disruptive technologies and scientific breakthroughs will be accelerated if physical scientists, engineers, life scientists and industry work together, and at scale. This is the domain of the Rosalind Franklin Institute (RFI): with a focal point (Hub) at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, linked to formal Spokes in leading HEIs across the UK, it will integrate complementary expertise from academia and industry to create a national centre of excellence for methods development at the convergence of the physical and life sciences.

The RFI will develop disruptive next-generation imaging technologies that will enable step changes in our understanding of cell and disease biology, and the non-invasive diagnosis and treatment of some conditions. It will design new methods and strategies for drug discovery - enhancing R&D productivity in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical sectors and supporting faster, more cost-effective development of novel medicines for currently intractable diseases, or new herbicides. It will create high-value jobs, protect and attract inward investment, and drive long-term growth; and contribute to the delivery of the Government's innovation, industrial and regional strategies.

The RFI will focus on high-risk, long-term R&D challenges. A high degree of uncertainty, significant spill-overs and the need for multi-party collaboration all contribute to under-investment by the private sector, relative to socially optimal levels. Government intervention - in the form of the RFI (£79.6m CDEL and £23.5m RDEL in the period 2016-21) - is needed to de-risk and accelerate early-stage discovery and innovation; and to foster the usability and integration (and therefore the real-world uptake) on which the disruptive impact of new technologies ultimately depends.

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