British companies receive R&D boost from Prince Albert’s Royal Commission amid global uncertainty

Funding for young researchers to conduct pioneering R&D is helping companies to innovate, unhampered by the Covid-19 uncertainty. Innovations supported include new method for developing drugs to combat pandemics such as Covid-19, novel medicines for treating chronic pain, and a new insulation technique to make homes more energy-efficient. Applications for the 2021 Industrial Fellowships are now open.

London, 30 September 2020 – The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 has awarded Industrial Fellowships worth up to £100,000 each to ten of the UK’s most talented young researchers. Set up by Prince Albert to organise the Great Exhibition of 1851 and extended in perpetuity to invest the profits in UK innovation, the Commission has been supporting promising research ever since. With its innate immunity to socioeconomic fluctuations such as those caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Commission’s crucial support to advanced R&D continues, helping to maintain British science and engineering excellence.   

The Industrial Fellowship is equipped to empower students to conduct open research in any area of science and engineering with significant commercial potential, while working for a company within that industry. The funding gives students the freedom to follow exciting new leads in their research as they gather more information, while equipping companies with cutting-edge research without the premium price tag. The programme builds and strengthens links between the participating supporting universities and companies. 
This year, the cohort includes Fellows improving protective materials with a new technique of bonding metals and ceramics, using machine learning to devise personalised medical interventions in type 2 diabetes patients, and safeguarding large infrastructure from collapse with AI and satellite data. 
Bernard Taylor, Chairman of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, said: “Fostering British innovation with real commercial potential is more important than ever. Empowering bright scientists early in their career to do the research they want to pursue while giving companies access to that research is the best way of letting scientific curiosity impact industry. With research promising to unlock new products and revenue across the pharmaceutical, energy, defence and infrastructure industries, this year’s cohort demonstrates the potential and diversity of talent within British science.”
Industrial Fellowships provide funding of up to £100,000 to cover salary contributions, university fees, and other costs to undertake doctoral studies and research. Students’ projects are funded for up to 3 years, during which they benefit from both academic and industrial support. The programme plays a crucial role in facilitating the relationship between institutions and industry in the UK by offering highly valued funding for research and development into new intellectual property, totalling around £2 million every year.
The full list of 2020 Industrial Fellows are:
Maral Bayaraa, Satellite Applications Catapult and University of Oxford: Developing a system that combines satellite data with artificial intelligence to predict when large physical structures like dams are about to collapse, enabling preventative intervention. 
Sam Bourne, LifeArc and University of Kent: Finding the genetic causes of chronic pain for the development of effective long-term remedies with fewer side effects.  
Daniella Cheang, AstraZeneca and University of Oxford: Mimicking a natural process to improve molecule synthesis in order to build a library of available compounds.
Sophie Duong, Dstl and University of Surrey: Offering better protection to soldiers from ballistic threats through a new adhesive technique to bond metals with ceramics.
Jack Kay, Ingenza and University of Plymouth: Developing novel therapies based on antimicrobial peptides to fight superbugs.
Joseph Lawton, Plasma Quest and University of Surrey: Producing a coating for windows that reduces the amount of infrared radiation that can pass through, without reducing visibility, thereby making homes more energy efficient.
Poppy Oldroyd, Johnson Matthey and University of Cambridge: Increasing the lifetime of brain implants treating epilepsy, Parkinson’s and depression. 
Euan Rodgers, Rolls-Royce and Imperial College London: Developing a permanently installed monitoring system using guided waves for safety critical nuclear components.
Tom Waddell, Perspectum Diagnostics and University of Oxford: Devising personalised medical interventions from a predictive computational model of type 2 diabetes in individual patients. 
Declan Williams, QinetiQ and University of Birmingham: Utilising flow rather than batch chemistry to improve the reproducibility, safety and efficiency of manufacturing explosives. 
Applications for the 2021 Industrial Fellowships will open this week on 1 October. To learn more visit the website here.

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