The Government is backing a raft of projects - from examining how technology can help boost English farms’ productivity to creating environmentally-friendly offices and homes - to the tune of £76 million in a move designed to keep the UK a world leader in science, research and innovation.
One project, at The University of Lincoln, will study how farming robots could help tend and quality control high-value crops in what is claimed to be the world’s first "agri-robotics centre".
The successful projects include the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Enzyme Innovation, which will look at how engineering enzymes could break down common single-use plastics which will contribute to a circular economy. This project will be receiving £5,828,000.
Meanwhile, Open University’s Astrobiology Research Unit will seek to answer questions in space exploration and boost understanding of extra-terrestrial environments and potential life, and consider how the private sector and smaller nations can address space governance through ensuring environmental sustainability of missions, for example. This project will be receiving £6,737,350.
Loughborough University’s Centre for Mathematical Cognition will study mathematic learning processes and use resulting insights to evaluate what educational interventions could boost student success at mathematics and address the STEM skills gap. By working with schools and colleges, the team will ensure the work addresses classroom priorities. This project will be receiving £6,594,814.
Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: "Pushing the boundaries of knowledge and conquering new innovations are what our universities are known for the world over.
"The Expanding Excellence in England Fund will support projects throughout England to master new and developing areas of research and industry. The investment will support researchers to develop solutions and opportunities for UK researchers and businesses."