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Science Minister Amanda Solloway announced on Wednesday the bold initiative that will highlight the best of British innovation after Brexit. Among the 97 beneficiaries of the cash boost are pioneering projects that will support British farmers, tackle chronic illnesses and help the UK recover from the Covid pandemic. The goal is to bring the innovations from lab to market through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Future Leaders Fellowships scheme.
Ms Solloway said: “We are putting science and innovation at the heart of our efforts to build back better from the pandemic, empowering our scientific leaders of tomorrow to drive forward game-changing research that could improve all our lives and boost the UK economy.
“Supported by £113million, the Future Leaders Fellowships will equip our most inventive scientists and researchers across the country with the tools to develop and bring their innovations to market quickly – all while helping to secure the UK’s status as a global science superpower.”
One of the most exciting projects supported by the scheme is the RoboHike team at University College London.
Led by Dr Dimitrios Kanoulas, RoboHike aims to develop four-legged robots designed to navigate rough terrain.
Brexit Britain is investing millions into the UK’s science and tech leaders (Image: GETTY)
The RoboHike team is developing four-legged robotos (Image: UKRI/ROBOHIKE)
The technology could have a wide array of applications, from agriculture to construction, as well as being deployed at the scenes of natural disasters.
Another project, led by Dr Yujiang Wang at Newcastle University, is developing future treatments for people with epilepsy.
The team will combine wearable sensors with long-term brain recordings to analyse changes in epileptic seizures.
By studying how seizures vary from case to case, Dr Wang and his fellow researchers could help forecast future seizures and possibly reduce their severity.
Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, UKRI Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted that UKRI is able to support the next generation of research and innovation leaders through our Future Leaders Fellowship programme.
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“The new Fellows announced today will have the support and freedom they need to pursue their research and innovation ideas, delivering new knowledge and understanding and tackling some of the greatest challenges of our time.”
The Government has so far committed more than £900billion towards the Future Leader Fellowship scheme over three years.
The projects that are being backed today will form the backbone of the UK’s status as a global powerhouse of science and innovation.
And the funding announced today only marks a fraction of the Government’s commitment towards increasing public spending on R&D.
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The four-legged robot could be used to find people during natural cataclysms (Image: UKRI/ROBOHIKE)
Dr Yujiang Wang in Newcastle is developing future treatments for epilepsy (Image: UKRI/Dr Yujiang Wang)
By 2024 to 2025, the Government is on track to increase the spending by an astounding £22billion.
Then by 2027, the Government aims to spend 2.4 percent of the nation’s GDP on R&D across various sectors of the economy.
Among the recipients of today’s funding boost is Dr Joshua Dean at the University of Liverpool.
Dr Dean is leading a project that will use urban canals and rives to map and measure methane emissions.
The goal is to trace the origins of the greenhouse gas that is far more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).
It is estimated more than half of all methane emissions come from human activity.
Dr Obinna Ubah at Elasmogen Ltd has also been selected for the scheme for her work on innovative therapy that could treat diseases like arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
Dr Ubah’s approach aims to overcome some of the limitations associated with traditional antibody treatments by treating more than one kind of disease.
Another beneficiary is Dr Emily Draper from the University of Glasgow who will lead a team of researchers looking to replace environmentally harmful materials with organic ones.
The project could reduce the amount of expensive metals used in smartphones and tablets, and replace them with greener options.