15 January 2016 15:00
Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre hailed as positive example of EU research funding
A world class electron microscopy centre at Plymouth University has been cited as an example of how European Union funding is benefitting UK science and engineering research.
Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre (PEMC) was transformed in 2011 as part of a £1.3million four-year project, to become an invaluable facility for academics and students, as well as dozens of businesses from across the South West.
The project was jointly funded by the University, JEOL (UK) Ltd and a £579,960 grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Now it is listed as one of six success stories in a report produced by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) and the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC), which has been fed into the House of Lords inquiry into EU membership and UK research.
“It is a true endorsement to be singled out by CaSE to contribute to this report. It is a mark of the success of our ERDF project which has introduced over 100 companies in the South West to the relevance and application of electron microscopy, giving SMEs access to big-company technology.”
“The investment PEMC received through the ERDF programme enabled Plymouth University to develop a world-class centre for electron microscopy. It has provided South West companies with local access to the latest technology for the examination of the microstructural characteristics of material. The new facilities are also of direct benefit to the University’s researchers and have led to increased research activity and collaborative projects with industry, including two KTPs with Langage Farm and New Generation BioGas Ltd.”
The report – The role of European Union membership in UK science and engineering research – contains evidence and insight gained from analysis of available data and interactions with the science and engineering community.
It shows that the UK received around £8.8billion between 2007 and 2013 from the EU for research, development and innovation, and claims the ability to attract academic staff to the UK through free movement of labour is important, particularly in science and engineering.
In addition to investigating the scale and scope of EU research funding, the report includes the results of a survey conducted by CaSE and the EPC to capture the views and experiences of over 400 researchers. Their responses were overwhelmingly positive, with 93% agreeing that EU membership is a major benefit to UK science and engineering.
CaSE Acting Director, Naomi Weir said:
“A healthy science and engineering sector brings economic, social and health benefits to the UK and its citizens. The UK is a world-leading nation in science and engineering research but research is an international endeavour and the question is whether being a member of the EU is a help or a hindrance to UK research. Certainly, this research is one piece in a very large and complex puzzle, but we are delighted to contribute to the growing body of work concerning the critical question of the UK’s membership of the EU.”
EPC Executive Director, Susan Kay, added:
“Access to specialist facilities and skills through free movement of skilled labour and international collaboration are particularly important to maintain the world-class reach and impact of UK engineering and the unique contribution this makes to the health and resilience of UK industry. As our researchers have told us, EU membership gives us access to those skills and collaboration. Together we are stronger, and so is the UK research base.”
The full report can be found at http://sciencecampaign.org.uk/?p=19165.