26/09/2003

Universities awarded £50 million research funding

Northern Ireland's two universities have been awarded £50 million to boost international research programs, it has been announced.

Employment and Learning Minister, Jane Kennedy said the monies would be invested into the university research infrastructure as a public-private partnership with her department contributing £25 million of the total and the remainder being funded by Atlantic Philanthropies.

Announcing the investment, the Minister said: "The importance of both phases of the Support Programme for University Research (SPUR) to the future of research in Northern Ireland cannot be overstated. Since 2001, when the first phase was initiated, until 2007, when the second phase will be complete, a total of over £90 million will have been invested into an area of central importance to the establishment of a modern, dynamic economy.

"The amount of funding available through SPUR is an indication of the seriousness with which my Department approaches university research. This is in addition to the increased level of recurrent research funding; compared to a figure of £27 million only a year ago, this now stands at £37 million.

"The combination of these levels of basic research funding and the SPUR initiatives points to a bright future for university research in Northern Ireland."

Funding will be focused on those areas of research where the universities have the potential to compete with the very best in the world.

This major investment represents phase two of the Support Programme for University Research (SPUR 2) which will run from 2003 to 2007.

(MB)

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