£16m investment to power up people who play vital role in research

Mar 18, 2024

The UK’s Research Technical Professional (RTP) community has received a £16m cash injection to power up technical talent and expertise in higher education, research and innovation.

The multi-million-pound grant has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and UKRI’s Digital Research Infrastructure (DRI) funds to nurture technical specialists and meet future demands of world-class science and engineering research.

£1.8m has been awarded to the UK Technology Specialists Network (TSN), part of the UK Institute for Technical Skills and Strategy, to provide access to bespoke learning and development opportunities for the RTP community and facilitate knowledge exchange.

Dr Ian Hancox, Co-Director of the UK Institute for Technical Skills and Strategy and Director of Research Technology and Technical Strategy for the University of Warwick said:

“This funding will provide opportunities for RTPs nationally that would otherwise not be possible. These unique UK-wide projects help to deliver recommendations outlined in the landmark TALENT Commission report, which calls for increased investment in the future of UK technical skills and careers.”

“The national Technology Specialists Network (TSN) is a growing national community that has already benefited from sharing best practice, knowledge and skills to enhance career prospects. I look forward to strengthening this community further and working with our project partners to deliver opportunities that make a real difference to RTP’s careers.”

Further grants have been secured for community-driven projects, led by UK universities and research institutes, to provide systematic support to the RTP community to ensure the workforce gains the right skills to support the rapid pace of developments in research computing, data and AI.

To ensure connectivity across all national projects, the UK Institute for Technical Skills and Strategy is hosting a national meeting with EPSRC and all project leads in May 2024.

Jane Nicholson, Research Base Director at EPSRC also commented.

“Through these 11 new projects, the Strategic Technical Platform funding will help cultivate a thriving, dynamic, and vibrant community of research technical professionals. This community will not only support and elevate cutting-edge research in the UK, but also foster a sizeable, highly skilled and esteemed research technical professional network,” she said.

“The UK is a world leader in high-tech research and development and it’s essential that we fully support the full breadth of skills needed for the workforce that deliver this innovation.”

Dr Natalie Homer, Mass Spec Core Manager at the University of Edinburgh and co-lead, said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity to share best practice, skills and knowledge across the TSN community, which has grown to over 300 members in its first year. With the project providing support for RTP travel, accommodation and carer responsibility bursaries, we will ensure that the opportunities are as inclusive as possible and benefit RTPs at a range of career stages.’

Find out more about the UK Technology Specialists Network (TSN) here


Notes to editors:

Learn more about the 11 projects:

Jeyan Thiyagalingam, Science and Technologies and Facilities Council (STFC) laboratories
National Platform for RTPs on AI for Science and Engineering (NPRAISE)
Establish a national and interdisciplinary platform that nurtures a community of RTPs who specialise in developing and applying AI to scientific and engineering challenges by providing training, support, development opportunities, and advocacy.

Jeremy Cohen, Imperial College London
STEP-UP: A Strategic TEchnical Platform for University technical Professionals
The STEP-UP platform is a project to develop digital Research Technical Professionals (RTPs) and the support ecosystem needed for this.

Ann-Marie Mallon, The Alan Turing Institute
People in Data
Will establish and promote a community of data professionals across the UK through the development of various online platforms encouraging members to share knowledge and experience.

Robert Richardson, University of Leeds
UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategic Technical Platform (UKRAS – STEP)
Provides academic and administrative leadership to help transform the UK’s RAS research landscape, bringing the community together, strengthening areas of national importance and creating stronger links between academia, industry and government funding bodies.

Max Munoz, Queen Mary University London
Meet Future Needs of Antenna Measurements and RF Characterization for Changing Research Culture (MUSCAT)
MUSCAT will boost the number of RTPs with the key technical skill sets essential to meet the needs of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, the UK Science and Technology Framework by 2030, and the upcoming surge in wireless technological advancements.

Philip Couch, The University of Manchester
Developing technical capability and capacity for UK Secure Data Environments
Will work to attract individuals who want to apply technical skills to a societal cause at different career stages, build a community of RTPs across the northwest of England and provide at least six short- term student placements for those studying on undergraduate/masters programmes in relevant subjects.

Derren Heyes, The University of Manchester
Development of a national facility and technical training hub for ‘Biomolecule Engineering’
This project will unite a collaborative team of internationally recognised RTPs with wide-ranging expertise in the area of biomolecule engineering – across the fields of biology, chemistry, automation and computation – and develop a national facility and technical training hub.

Tony Horner, The University of Manchester
RTP-Led National Technical Platform for Materials Innovation
This RTP-led national technical platform will empower the RTP community working in materials innovation and associated manufacturing technology through training, development, and professional networking opportunities, as well as working to increase the visibility of RTPs and break down barriers between silos.

Ian Hancox, University of Warwick
Delivering Knowledge, Skills and Opportunities to RTPs Nationally Leveraging the UK
Technology Specialist Network (TSN) Will provide the TSN and wider RTP community with access to training and development activities that are complementary to those existing through projects such as TALENT, WASC and the recently launched UK Institute for Technical Skills and Strategy.

Edward Codling, University of Essex
Technical Platform for Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (T-PIKE)
T-PIKE will provide training, secondment and placement programme for technicians that give them the knowledge and experience to engage fully with industry – alongside entry-level opportunities that will bring new apprentices into the sector – and help ensure that the profession is sustainable.

Anneke Lubben, University of Bath
X-CITED: X-disciplinary Challenges from Industry for Technical Expert Development
The X-CITED programme will establish a multi-facetted model to create an RTP pipeline and ensure that more experienced RTPs realise their full potential for broader societal benefit through their engagement with industry and the next generation of RTPs.

Further information

About the Digital Research Infrastructure programme

The UKRI Digital Research Infrastructure (DRI) programme was initiated in 2020. UKRI’s constituent councils are working together to create a federated, interoperable, interdisciplinary portfolio of DRI to serve the UK’s researchers and innovators. More information about the UKRI DRI programme can be found on the UKRI website