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UK biosciences development receives cash injection

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To tackle the emerging problem of feeding a growing world, UK scientists have been given substantial research grants.

According to the BBC, Science Minister David Willetts has pledged a cash boost for UK researchers to develop industrial technology as part of a wider plan to promote stable economic growth.

As part of the UK's coalition government's innovative technological growth strategy, £250m ($156m) will be granted to scientists that are tackling the problem of how to feed a rising population across the globe.

Willets said that this funding is a crucial aspect of promoting the "technologies of the future", and will both tackle wider, crucial issues of industry and help maintain commercial success in the UK industry.

He said it will be used to: "[..] meet challenges such as sustainably feeding the growing world population, finding alternatives to dwindling fossil fuels and supporting an ageing society to remain healthy for longer".

The grants were announced during a visit to a research campus near Cambridge. The Science Minister also pledged his support for bioscience developments including genetically modified (GM) crop growth. GM crop experiments are taking part around the country -- occasional damage to trials by protesters notwithstanding -- and may be required in the future to meet the growing demand for food supply and lack of available agricultural land.

The funding will be divided between different research centers. These include the Institute for Animal Health (£38m/$60m), Babraham Institute, Cambridge (£37m/$59m), The Genome Analysis Centre (£19m/$30.4m) and the Institute of Food Research (£29m/$46.4m).

The funding decisions were made by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), a government-funded agency with a current annual budget of £445m ($713m).

Chief Executive of the Society of Biology, Dr. Mark Downs said:

"The greatest challenges the world faces, including food security, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the ageing population and disease, can all ultimately be addressed through biology-based research. Funding that research is critical to meeting these challenges."

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council will also be funding four manufacturing fellowships worth approximately one million pounds each to work on future industrial strategy.

(via BBC)

Image credit: Jorge Paparoni Bruzual

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure