Investment in bioscience skills and training to help meet economic and social challenges

24th January 2012

The Institute of Food Research is part of a consortium of research institutes on the Norwich Research Park (NRP) that are to receive almost £4million of new funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to support the training of the next generation of scientists. The investment will fund 39 PhD students through a Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) award, to be coordinated by the John Innes Centre, and involving the University of East Anglia, the Sainsbury Laboratory, the Institute of Food Research and the Genome Analysis Centre.

The Norwich Research Park

The Norwich Research Park

The scope of the DTP award will be substantially enhanced by a commitment over the next three years of an additional £2million from the partner institutions and the Norwich Research Park Board, thereby supporting a total of 59 studentships in total.

The Norwich Doctoral Training Partnership is one of 14 across the UK that were announced by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts. Nationwide, £67M of new investment from BBSRC in postgraduate training and development in the biosciences will support the 14 partnerships as well as a number of industrial CASE (iCASE) studentship awards.

Professor Richard Mithen, Chair of Graduate Studies at the Institute of Food Research, said: “Postgraduate training plays an integral part in IFR’s culture of encouraging both learning and knowledge transfer. IFR is very much looking forward to being able to expand the cohort of next-generation scientists equipped with the cross-disciplinary skills that are needed to tackle the rising challenges in food and health.”

Professor David Richardson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Enterprise and Engagement at the University of East Anglia, said: “The award of this doctoral training programme is tremendous news and highlights the strength and critical mass of bioscience research on Norwich Research Park. This joint award not only recognises the NRP as a centre of excellence for bioscience research training, but highlights the truly integrated nature of the collaborations between the University of East Anglia, the John Innes Centre, the Institute of Food Research and the Genome Analysis Centre.”

John Innes Centre Director Professor Dale Sanders FRS, said: “JIC is delighted to be leading the consortium of NRP Institutions that have been awarded a Doctoral Training Partnership. The award is a strong endorsement of the world-leading research in Food Security and Industrial Biotechnology not only at JIC but across the NRP. This new PhD studentship programme provides an exciting opportunity for research training and development in a framework of inter-institutional and inter-disciplinary collaboration.”

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Andrew Stewart Coats, CEO of Norwich Research Park said: “This new investment is a further recognition of the development of NRP into a successful National Research Campus.”

Speaking at the University of Reading, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “This £67 million investment in postgraduate training is excellent news for students, research organisations, industry and the UK as a whole. The brightest and best students will be finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing us all, from food security through to renewable energy.

“The partnership approach means that many institutions are combining their strengths to provide students with improved training and relevant work experience. This will better equip them for future careers, be it in research, industry, or elsewhere.”

Over the next three years, the DTPs will support 660 four-year PhD students, and in addition the iCASE studentships will support 70 postgraduates from this Autumn. Both programmes will provide highly skilled scientists for academia, policy and industry and support the BBSRC mission to further scientific knowledge for economic growth, wealth and job creation – improving the quality of life in the UK and beyond.

The DTPs represent a new, more strategic approach from BBSRC to deliver highly skilled scientists for the UK research base. Taken as a whole, the DTP programme will deliver scientists with the training to meet major social and economic challenges in food security, sustainable bioenergy and renewable materials and improving lifelong health and wellbeing, as well as supporting those undertaking research in core underpinning bioscience.
An innovative and integral element of the programme, built in to enhance the employability of the DTP students, is the requirement for them to undertake a three- month professional internship outside of the lab to widen their experience of the areas of work in which they can apply their PhD skills and training. Destinations for these internships will include policymaking, media, teaching and industry.

BBSRC will be working closely with each DTP to support the delivery of excellent training and facilitate the development of a cohort of highly skilled BBSRC early career scientists. To provide greater support for the research training costs of each student ,and to recognise rising research inflation, BBSRC will provide funding of £5,000 per student, per year – up from a minimum of £1000 per year.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director of Innovation and Skills said, “We believe that this approach is a great way of doing things, enabling us to support the very best students working in the most important areas from food security through to crucial underpinning bioscience.

DTPs are all about training researchers to be the best they can be. By doing this we can make real inroads into answering global conundrums which will ultimately have a massive impact on the UK economy and further afield.”

The DTP funding allows institutions to recruit the best students and secure additional funding from other sources, such as industry or charities to increase the impact of public investment. Some of the research organisations, including the University of Reading, are matching the BBSRC investment from their own budgets to increase the number of PhD students they will train under the programme.

The DTPs have been awarded by BBSRC following a competitive process including assessment by BBSRC’s independent Training Awards Committee. Each student in a DTP will have the benefit of working in an excellent research environment but the awarding criteria also focused on the ability of each partnership to provide the best possible training programme.




Notes to editors

The 2012 DTP host institutions are:
University of Bristol in collaboration with University of Bath, University of Exeter and Rothamsted Research
University of Cambridge in collaboration with Babraham Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), Animal Health Trust, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and National Institute of Agricultural Botany
University College London in collaboration with Birkbeck, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Royal Veterinary College and King’s College
University of Edinburgh in collaboration with the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews
University of Glasgow in collaboration with University of Strathclyde
Imperial College London in collaboration with Royal Holloway, University of London and Research Complex at Harwell
John Innes Centre in collaboration with Institute of Food Research, University of East Anglia and the Genome Analysis Centre
University of Leeds in collaboration with University of York and University of Sheffield
University of Manchester
Newcastle University in collaboration with University of Liverpool and University of Durham
University of Nottingham in collaboration with Rothamsted Research
University of Oxford
University of Reading in collaboration with the universities of Surrey, Lancaster and Southampton and Rothamsted Research
University of Warwick in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and University of Leicester

About DTPs

The change from the previous Quota DTGs approach to the DTP programme followed detailed discussion by BBSRC’s Bioscience Skills and Careers Strategy Panel. The DTP programme draws significantly on the recommendations of an evaluation of the Quota DTG scheme conducted in 2010

DTPs retain many elements of the previous Quota PhD funding programme but feature increased engagement between BBSRC and host institutions.

The DTP programme will fund a smaller number of larger, multi-institutional partnerships, compared to the previous Quota scheme, which primarily awarded training grants at departmental or faculty level. These larger partnerships will enable greater coordination in the provision of specialist training and will benefit from closer working with BBSRC and its Training Awards Committee.

Funding decisions were made by the BBSRC Training Awards Committee. A special meeting of TAC was convened to determine the funding and this was chaired by Mike Goosey, a member of BBSRC Council, to reflect the strategic importance of this investment. For more details about the committee and their method of working visit:

About CASE studentships

CASE studentships provide high quality research training in collaboration with an industrial partner.

They are 4-year doctoral training grants for top quality bioscience graduates to undertake research (leading to a PhD) on a subject selected and supervised jointly by academic and industrial partners.


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £445M, we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: