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Record £50 million funding boost to train next generation of researchers

Press release issued: 4 February 2019

The University of Bristol is today celebrating a record funding boost of over £50 million to train the next generation of highly-skilled researchers.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded Bristol funding for nine Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) – the highest number awarded to any university in the country.

The centres will train and equip talented engineering and science students with the skills needed to tackle global challenges such as sustainable energy and cyber security. 

Bristol’s nine centres will cover a broad range of disciplines that will be vital for knowledge and expertise in the future, including areas like autonomous robotics, data science, quantum engineering, digital health and composite materials.

All of the PhD programmes are open for application, with the first cohorts of students due to start in late September 2019.  The demand for places on these ground-breaking programmes is expected to be very high, and interested applicants should contact the Centres and start the online application as soon as possible, making sure to specify the particular CDT that is of interest.

There will be a special Bristol CDT Open Day on Wednesday 20th February which is an excellent opportunity for students to find out more and talk to the academics.

It is expected at least 450 students will be trained at the University of Bristol.  The PhDs are funded for four years and 43 per cent of EPSRC invested students go on to be employed in business or public services, with 36 per cent going on to work in academia. 

As well as being awarded the highest number of centres in this new funding round, Bristol also won nine of the 11 CDTs it bid for, which is an 82 per cent success rate compared to the national average of 38 per cent.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Nishan Canagarajah, said: “This is an enormous achievement for the University and we are delighted to be increasing our opportunities for postgraduates, to deliver ground-breaking research in STEM disciplines here in Bristol. 

“This outstanding result is a testament to the excellent academic teams, the multi-disciplinary research environment, the development and support framework for our students, and the strong industrial partnerships we have developed over the recent years.

“The nine CDTs we have been awarded are across fields that will be fundamental in ensuring Bristol builds a community of engineers and scientists who will have a significant role in meeting the UK skills needed to address future societal challenges.”

The EPSRC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has awarded £446 million funding for 75 CDTs in over 30 universities.

A further £386 million in cash and in-kind support has been contributed by 1,400 project partners, including companies such as Tata Steel and Procter and Gamble and charities such as Cancer Research UK.

The UKRI’s Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “Highly talented people are required to tackle key global challenges such as sustainable energy and cyber security, and provide leadership across industries and our public services.

“Centres for Doctoral Training provide them with the support, tools and training they need to succeed, and the involvement of 1,400 project partners underlines how much industry and the charity sector value this approach.”

Further information

Read Professor Canagarajah's blog post

The nine Centres to receive funding at the University of Bristol are;

  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Composites Science, Engineering and Manufacturing
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Autonomous Robotic Systems (FARSCOPE-TU: Towards Ubiquity)
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security in Large-scale Infrastructures (TIPS-at-Scale)
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Computational Statistics and Data Science: COMPASS
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantum Engineering
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Technology Enhanced Chemical Synthesis
  • Centre for Doctoral Training in Aerosol Science
  • Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Health and Care
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Innovation in Non-Destructive Evaluation (FIND)

Interested applicants should contact the Centres and start the online application as soon as possible, making sure to specify the particular CDT that is of interest:

The Bristol CDT Open Day on Wednesday 20th February is a brilliant opportunity to find out more about the CDTs and a chance to talk to the academics. Please register on the Eventbrite page:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

EPSRCis part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. EPSRC is the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK. By investing in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation.

Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future UK prosperity by contributing to a healthy, connected, resilient, productive nation.

Centres for Doctoral Training

CDTs students are funded for four years and the programme includes technical and transferrable skills training as well as a research element. The centres bring together diverse areas of expertise to train engineers and scientists with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle today’s evolving issues, and future challenges. They also provide a supportive and exciting environment for students, create new working cultures, build relationships between teams in universities and forge lasting links with industry.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

UKRI is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the Arts and Humanities Research Council; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Economic and Social Research Council; Innovate UK; Medical Research Council; Natural Environment Research Council; Research England; and Science and Technology Facilities Council.

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