Response to EPSRC Research Portfolio Map

21 July 2011

In response to the publication today, Wednesday 20 July, of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) map of its full research portfolio, Professor Sir Peter Knight, the Institute of Physics’ incoming-president, said, “Members of the physics community have already expressed their concern that the UK’s strong track record in science, which has stemmed from funding excellence in research, as judged by scientific peers, will be jeopardised by too strong a focus on short-term gains.

“They also have concerns about the introduction of a fundamentally new approach without broadly-based consultation across the science community.   Although the Institute of Physics was briefed on the plans, despite statements to the contrary, the Institute was not consulted.

“A key part of EPSRC’s remit is to fund basic research and enable researchers to take the first steps in, what might promise to be, exciting new fields.  This type of research can lead on to key new scientific and engineering developments with large societal benefits and huge economic value.  

“A prime example is the discovery of superconductivity 100 years ago; a discovery which lacked any obvious applications for 50 years but has since made magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) possible, saving millions of lives and creating a flourishing global industry.  MRI is just one example that illustrates how scientific advances come about.”

Further information about EPSRC’s map of its research portfolio.