Over £20 million government award marks Midlands’ bio-economy strengths

A consortium of Midlands research-active universities, including the University of Leicester, has just been awarded research studentships worth over £20 million to build on the Midlands’ already significant bio-economy and success in life sciences and agricultural research.

The Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership 2020 (MIBTP2020) is led by the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick in partnership with the University of Leicester, the University of Birmingham, Aston University and Harper Adams University. The funding comes from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council arm of the Government’s UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding organisation. This award will be matched by the universities in the partnership to fund a total of 245 doctoral students (59 per year) over the next five years.

Announcing the DTP award, Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC’s Executive Chair, said: “The success of the UK’s science sector and the consequent benefits to society and the economy relies on great researchers doing great work. Our Doctoral Training Partnerships have already supported the training of hundreds of early career scientists working at the cutting edge of biology and biotechnology. By continuing to fund, through this significant £170 million investment, vital training of the next generation of researchers we will help ensure that the UK consolidates its position as world-leader in this crucial sector.”

Professor Alec Cameron, Chair of the Board of Midlands Innovation said: “It is fantastic to see the announcement of this new collaborative Doctoral Training Partnership which includes four members of the Midlands Innovation university consortium. The DTP builds upon a strong heritage of life sciences research and collaboration across the Midlands and further strengthens the ties between our institutions.”

Professor Julian Ketley, Co-Director of the Leicester MIBTP, said: "I am delighted that the doctoral training programme has been renewed. The new programme has extended the number of partners to include Aston University and Harper Adams University and is now the second largest BBSRC-funded doctoral training programme in the UK. Renewal recognises the successful training of high quality post-graduate researchers in the Midlands, and will enable us to maintain the vital contribution to Leicester’s research excellence by these early career researchers."

UKRI-BBSRC DTPs provide PhD training in areas of bioscience relevant to the remit and strategic research priority areas of BBSRC. They also provide a breadth of professional development training opportunities to enhance the capabilities of doctoral candidates and develop a world-class, highly skilled workforce the UK needs for its future.

DTPs will offer four-year PhD studentships over five cohorts starting in October 2020, during which each student also undertakes a three-month Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS) placement to develop their skills further and to explore possible future career directions.

Each of the successful DTPs have also received some additional Flexible Support Funding, to provide additional opportunities for students within and across cohorts. This funding will also be used to encourage under-represented groups of undergraduates to experience research through summer placements, as well as provide additional funds to support high-cost research projects.