New Interdisciplinary Programmes Unveiled by Research Councils

ResearchResearch reported yesterday on three new collaborative cross-council programmes unveiled by the seven UK research councils aimed at addressing “emerging challenges” faced by the UK.


The three themes, which were announced at a Research Councils UK meeting at the Royal Society on 6 April, are food security, fostering economic recovery and connected communities, which focuses on opportunities and challenges posed by today’s interconnected and mobile society. The councils previously identified these themes in an unpublished joint submission to Paul Drayson, the science minister, in response to his call for a debate on which areas of science the UK should focus on to promote economic recovery and national competitiveness.

This marks another move towards the councils working together to fund interdisciplinary research which addresses the “grand challenges” facing society. Researchresearch also reports that the chief executive of the MRC, Leszek Borysiewicz, called for more engagement with European funding institutions and instruments. Research Councils are already looking ahead to Framework Programme 8, focusing on ways in which research priorities can be shaped across the European Research Area.

The details of the three cross-council intiatives are yet to emerge, but they are expected to be similar in scope to existing large-scale programmes such as Digital Economy, which involves EPSRC, ESRC, AHRC, MRC and the Technology Strategy Board.