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Press Release - 05 December 2008

University awarded more than £10m to train scientists and animators of the future

The University of Bath has been awarded more than £10 million to create new training centres that will produce animators to work on Hollywood films and scientists to develop sustainable fuels.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – the UK funding body for science and engineering – announced the awards today (5 December).

Around £6 million has been awarded to the University’s Department of Computer Science to train people from the special effects and animation industry who work on Hollywood films and computer games.

Working in partnership with the University of Bournemouth, the Industrial Doctorate Centre in Digital Media, Special Effects and Animation will teach research-level skills coupled with management expertise in the special effects, animation and post-production industries.

Head of Computer Science Professor Philip Willis said: "I am thrilled we have received this grant. Together with our colleagues at the University of Bournemouth, we will be working on exciting projects with the UK's world-leading games, animation and special effects industries."

A grant of more than £7 million has been awarded to the University to create a Doctoral Training Centre providing transformative research and training in sustainable chemical technologies. The Centre will train over 50 PhD students, taking its first cohort in October 2009.

The aim of the centre is to provide graduate students with in-depth training in the fundamental concepts of sustainability while at the same time carrying out leading multidisciplinary research across a wide range of important areas such as the development of sustainable biofuels, solar cells, biodegradable plastics and clean manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.

Key to success in making progress in these areas is the close collaboration of chemists and chemical engineers, together with strong support from a wide range of industrial partners.

Professor Matthew Davidson from the Department of Chemistry, who is Director of the new Doctoral Training Centre said: “This investment, which is expected to be the largest award made to the University by EPSRC, is recognition of all the work we have been doing in the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Bath over the past few years, and of the leading position we have in the UK and internationally in the area of sustainable chemical technologies.

“It’s very exciting to have been chosen as the only Doctoral Training Centre in this area in the UK and this is a tremendous opportunity we can build upon. This is the first stage which we will use as a platform for other major initiatives over the next few years.”

The University will also benefit from a £5.2 million grant to develop an Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems led by the University of Bristol.

Professor of Information Systems in the School of Management, Richard Vidgen, said: "This grant allows the management and engineering departments to work together to create integrated solutions for industry and will help us to achieve our vision, which is to be recognised as a world-leading centre in systems thinking."

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath Professor Glynis Breakwell said: "This new EPSRC funding is a major boost to the training opportunities available for young researchers in Britain. The University of Bath is well equipped to nurture this talent and to launch the careers of our future innovators and leaders. Our doctoral training centres will be vibrant and enterprising communities and will have a positive environmental and economic impact."

These are three of 44 training centres that will be created from a £250 million initiative announced by Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson. They will generate over 2000 PhD students and tackle some of the biggest problems currently facing Britain such as climate change, energy, our ageing population, and high-tech crime.

Lord Drayson said: “Britain faces many challenges in the 21st Century and needs scientists and engineers with the right skills to find answers to these challenges, build a strong economy and keep us globally competitive. EPSRC’s doctoral training centres will provide a new wave of engineers and scientists to do the job.”

He continued: “These new centres will help to develop clean renewable energy, fight high tech crime, assist in reducing carbon emissions, and discover new healthcare solutions for an ageing population. This is an exciting, innovative approach to training young researchers and will help build a better future for Britain.

EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training are a bold new approach to training PhD students, creating communities of researchers working on current and future challenges. 17 of the new centres will be industrial training centres that will equip their students with the business skills they need to turn pioneering ideas into products and services, boosting their impact on the UK’s economy.

Professor Dave Delpy, chief executive of EPSRC, said: “People are the heart of our future strategy. We want to drive a modern economy and meet the challenges of tomorrow by investing in talented people and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

He continued: “EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training expand our existing training portfolio, focus on priority themes for the UK, emerging and multidisciplinary research, and greater collaboration with business.”

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