Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Last updated

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
UKRI EPSR Council-Logo Horiz-RGB.png
Predecessor Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC)
Type Non-departmental government body
PurposeFunding of science and engineering research
HeadquartersPolaris House,
North Star Avenue,
Region served
United Kingdom
Executive Chair
Lynn Gladden
Main organ
EPSRC Council
Parent organization
£898 million (2015–2016) [1]
Website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is a British Research Council that provides government funding for grants to undertake research and postgraduate degrees in engineering and the physical sciences, mainly to universities in the United Kingdom. EPSRC research areas include mathematics, physics, chemistry, artificial intelligence and computer science, but exclude particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy (which fall under the remit of the Science and Technology Facilities Council). Since 2018 it has been part of UK Research and Innovation, which is funded through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.



EPSRC was created in 1994. At first part of the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC),[ citation needed ] in 2018 it was one of nine organisations brought together to form UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). [2] [3]

Its head office is in Swindon, Wiltshire in the same building (Polaris House) that houses the AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, Natural Environment Research Council, Science and Technology Facilities Council, TSB, Research Councils UK and the UK Space Agency.

Key people

Paul Golby, Chair of EngineeringUK, was appointed as the Chairman of the EPSRC from 1 April 2012 for four years. He succeeded Sir John Armitt.

From 2007 to March 2014, the chief executive and deputy chair of EPSRC was David Delpy FREng FRS, a medical physicist and formerly vice provost at University College London. [4]

He'd been succeeded in April 2014 by Philip Nelson, former University of Southampton pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise. [5] In April 2016 Professor Tom Rodden was appointed as the Deputy CEO of EPSRC, a new position created to work alongside Philip Nelson while he also acts as Chair of RCUK Strategic Executive. Rodden joins the EPSRC on secondment from the University of Nottingham where he is currently Professor of Computing and Co-Director of Horizon Digital Economy Research.

In October 2018 Nelson was succeeded by Lynn Gladden CBE FRS FRSC FInstP FREng [6] in the new role of Executive Chair. [7]


In addition to funding academic research projects, the EPSRC also funds Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). These deliver four-year doctoral training programmes to cohorts of PhD students and EngD research engineers studying within UK universities, and are funded to target specific areas of research for which there is recognised need. In 2008, the EPSRC announced funding for 44 new CDTs spanning its entire remit. [8]

The EPSRC also funds or joint-funds 'Innovation and Knowledge Centres'. These are university-based business incubators which support commercialisation of emerging technologies. Between 2007 and 2016, the EPSRC funded seven centres: [9]

Since 2013, the ESPRC has funded i-Sense, an interdisciplinary research collaboration which develops early warning sensing systems for infectious diseases. [10]

In 2020, ESPRC received £22 million from UKRI to be used (alongside money from industry and the universities involved) to fund five "next stage digital economy" centres. Projects will be run by the universities of Bath, Newcastle, Northumbria, Nottingham, Surrey and Lancaster. [11]


In 2014 the ESPRC established its RISE awards – Recognising Inspirational Scientists and Engineers. The awards recognise inspirational leaders of innovation as RISE Leaders; those who are fellows of the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering or Academy of Medical Sciences as RISE Fellows; future leaders nominated by RISE Leaders as Rising Stars; and EPSRC-supported researchers with an interest in policy and evidence-based decision making as RISE Connectors. [12] As of October 2020, those named as RISE leaders are: [12]

Related Research Articles

The Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) and its predecessor the Science Research Council (SRC) were the UK agencies in charge of publicly funded scientific and engineering research activities, including astronomy, biotechnology and biological sciences, space research and particle physics, between 1965 and 1994.

Julia King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge British engineer and crossbench member of the House of Lords

Julia Elizabeth King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge, is a British engineer and crossbench member of the House of Lords, present Chair of the Carbon Trust and was the Vice-Chancellor of Aston University from 2006 to 2016.

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, is a non-departmental public body (NDPB), and is the largest UK public funder of non-medical bioscience. It predominantly funds scientific research institutes and university research departments in the UK.

Doctoral Training Centres are centres for managing the Research Council-funded PhD degrees in the United Kingdom. Typical UK PhD students take three years to complete their doctoral research under the guidance of an academic supervisor or small supervisory team, and tend to be located within an existing research group. By contrast, each DTC involves a UK university in delivering a four-year doctoral training programme to a significant number of PhD students organised into cohorts. Each Centre targets a specific area of research, and also emphasises transferable skills training. The model has been adopted by all seven Research Councils.

The Doctor of Engineering, or Engineering Doctorate, is a doctoral degree awarded on the basis of advanced study and research in engineering and applied sciences. In most countries, it is a terminal research doctorate. In the United Kingdom and Germany it is a higher doctorate. An EngD degree is essentially an engineering PhD with a solid industrial base and an additional taught element.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), formerly the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). UKRI is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) funded by the UK government. ESRC provides funding and support for research and training in the social sciences. It is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is a United Kingdom government agency that carries out research in science and engineering, and funds UK research in areas including particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy.

Robert Mair, Baron Mair

Robert James Mair, Baron Mair, is a geotechnical engineer and Emeritus Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of Research at the University of Cambridge. He is Head of the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC). He was Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, from 2001 to 2011 and a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge from 1998 to 2001. In 2014 he was elected a vice president of the Institution of Civil Engineers and on 1 November 2017 became the Institution's president for 2017–18, its 200th anniversary year. He was appointed an independent crossbencher in the House of Lords in 2015 and is currently a member of its Select Committee on Science and Technology.

Dame Lynn Faith Gladden is the Shell Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge. She served as Pro-vice-chancellor for research from 2010 to 2016. Since October 2018 she has been executive chair at the EPSRC.

The UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences is one of the 11 constituent faculties of University College London (UCL). The Faculty, the UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the UCL Faculty of the Built Envirornment together form the UCL School of the Built Environment, Engineering and Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Henry Royce Institute

The Henry Royce Institute is the UK’s national institute for advanced materials research and innovation. Its vision is to identify challenges and to stimulate innovation in advanced materials research to support sustainable growth and development. Royce aims to be a "single front door" to the UK’s materials research community. Its stated mission is to “support world-recognised excellence in UK materials research, accelerating commercial exploitation of innovations, and delivering positive economic and societal impact for the UK.”

Tom Rodden is Chief Scientific Adviser for the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He was previously Deputy Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Tom is Professor of Computing at the University of Nottingham and co-director of the Mixed Reality Laboratory, an interdisciplinary research facility. In 2008, as a member of the UK Research Assessment Exercise 2008 computing panel, he was responsible for assessing the international quality of computer science research across all UK departments. In 2014 he served in the Research Excellence Framework assessment panel for computing and he is the deputy chair of the Hong Kong RAE 2014 computing panel.

Susan Rosser is a Professor of Synthetic Biology at the University of Edinburgh.

Rachel Clare Thomson is a professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Pro Vice Chancellor of Teaching at Loughborough University. She is known for her expertise in measuring and predicting the behaviour of materials for high temperature power generation, as well as the development of higher education and research programmes.

Marina Denise Anne Jirotka is Professor of Human Centred Computing at the University of Oxford, Governing Body Fellow at St Cross College, Board Member of the Society for Computers and Law and a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute. She leads a team that works on responsible innovation, in a range of ICT fields including robotics, AI, machine learning, quantum computing, social media and the digital economy. She is known for her work on the 'Ethical Black Box'., a proposal that robots using AI should be fitted with a type of inflight recorder, similar to those used by aircraft, to track the decisions and actions of the AI when operating in an uncontrolled environment and to aid in post-accident investigations.

Rebecca Jane Lunn is a Professor and Head of the Centre for Ground Engineering and Energy Geosciences at the University of Strathclyde. I

Washington Yotto Ochieng is the Head of the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College London. He also serves as Director of the Engineering Geomatics Group and Chair of Positioning and Navigation Systems.

The Rosalind Franklin Institute is medical research centre supported by the Government of the United Kingdom located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Oxfordshire, England. It was launched on 6 June 2018. The government approval was announced on 23 February 2017 by Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. According to the press release the basis of the name was "in honour of the pioneering British scientist [Rosalind Franklin] whose use of X-rays to study biological structures played a crucial role in the discovery of DNA's 'double helix' structure by Francis Crick and James Watson". The objective was "to develop disruptive new technologies designed to tackle major challenges in health and life sciences, accelerate the discovery of new treatments for chronic diseases affecting millions of people around the world, and deliver new jobs and long-term growth to the local and UK economies."

Stephen John Haake is a British sports engineer. He is professor of sports engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, England and is founding director of the university's advanced wellbeing research centre.

Sadie Creese is a British cybersecurity specialist. She is Professor of Cybersecurity in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, Director of the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre at the Oxford Martin School, co-director of the university's Cyber Security Centre and of the Martin School's Institute for the Future of Computing, and a fellow of Worcester College, Oxford.


  1. Budget and finances, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, archived from the original on 29 August 2020, retrieved 29 August 2020
  2. "Our councils". UKRI. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  3. "John Kingman to lead creation of new £6 billion research and innovation body". GOV.UK. Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  4. New Chief Executive for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, 30 May 2007,
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. Anon (2017). "Gladden, Prof. Lynn Faith". Who's Who . (online Oxford University Press  ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.4000454.(subscription or UK public library membership required)(subscription required)
  7. "Professor Lynn Gladden selected as Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council" . Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  8. New Centres for Doctoral Training – December 2008 Archived 2013-07-06 at , from EPSRC's site
  9. "Innovation and knowledge centres – EPSRC website". Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  10. "About us". Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  11. "UKRI to invest £29m to boost digital revolution and online safety". 29 October 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  12. 1 2 "RISE: Recognising inspiration". EPSRC. Retrieved 5 October 2020.