Next generation of UK science leaders backed with £113m government funding

Four-legged robots to assist British farmers and new types of therapy to treat chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease are among nearly 100 cutting-edge projects that will benefit from a £113m government cash injection.

97 of the UK’s most promising science and research leaders will be backed with funding, Science Minister Amanda Solloway has announced today, to help bring their innovative ideas from lab to market and provide bold solutions to tackle major global issues ranging from climate change to chronic disease.

Among the UK’s future scientific leaders being backed today is Dr Dimitrios Kanoulas at University College London who will lead the RoboHike project to give autonomous four-legged robots the ability to navigate through difficult terrain, including in construction and agriculture, as well as at the scene of natural disasters. This will enable fast, robust, and reliable navigation in situations where timely delivery of services and emergency aid is essential.

Another project, led by Dr Yujiang Wang at Newcastle University will use long-term brain recordings, combined with wearable environmental sensors, to capture and analyse fluctuations in epileptic seizures. Its aim is to gain a better understanding of how seizure activity and severity varies case by case and will enable Wang’s team to forecast the severity of upcoming seizures for individual patients, as well as developing future treatments that may reduce their severity.

Delivered through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Future Leaders Fellowships scheme – which aims to establish the careers of the next generation of world class British scientists – the investment will enable researchers at universities and businesses to progress their studies quickly by funding essential equipment and paying for researcher wages.

Science Minister Amanda 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 £113m, 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.”

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “I am delighted that UKRI is able to support the next generation of research and innovation leaders through our Future Leaders Fellowship programme. 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.”