Press Release

A new vision for new times

By SpaceRef Editor
July 22, 2009
Filed under , , ,

The Science and Technology Facilities Council has today (22nd July) released its new Vision, which will guide its future investments in world leading science and technology for the United Kingdom. The Vision document can be found at

The Vision has been developed following extensive consultation on STFC’s strategy and contains commitments from the Council about how it will work in addition to a simple message about what STFC will achieve.

STFC Chief Executive Professor Keith Mason explains “Our Vision is to maximise the impact of our knowledge, skills, facilities and resources for the benefit of the United Kingdom and its people.”

The Vision also identifies the highest priority science and technology projects, and world class research facilities that STFC will be taking forwards for the UK.

The Impact of STFC’s programme takes many forms, and the Vision outlines how STFC will deliver impact in critical areas for the economy and society.

STFC supports world leading research that is both curiosity-driven and application-led. The challenges of the 21st century are long term, and require a scientific and technically trained workforce. It is critical to attract young people into these areas. STFC’s curiosity led research, such as astronomy and particle physics, play a central role in doing so. Of the PhD students who train in this sector, only 20-30% will remain in the profession; the others become part of the skilled labour market of the UK, in demand with employers in a wide range of sectors.

Key challenges facing global society require breakthroughs in science and technology, often relying on large scale infrastructures such as those provided by STFC. Four areas have been identified where STFC, by providing access to world leading facilities and technology, will make a central contribution to addressing the major challenges facing the country in Energy; Climate and the environment; Biomedical research; and Security.

Solutions to these 21st century problems require a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach. Our national facilities must become focal points for collaboration and innovation between Research Councils, Universities, National Laboratories and Industry to create centres of internationally competitive critical mass. STFC is therefore developing the laboratory sites at Daresbury and Harwell as National Science and Innovation Campuses. They will combine our skills and facilities with the knowledge of higher education institutions and support from the private sector. Together we will deliver a new model of collaborative science and technology programmes across a wide range of disciplines and sectors.

“We are in a different world from a year ago”, says Professor Mason. “There is a broad consensus that science and research have a key role to play in helping the UK recover from the current economic situation and address key problems for the nation and the world. This vision document explains the distinctive and central contributions that we in STFC are making to solving these challenges, through our strategic investments in large scale research, world leading facilities and the science and innovation campuses. It also shows that we have identified clear priorities for investment in each area. Our aim now is to work with the research community, industry, academia and the government to make this vision a reality.”

Notes for Editors

Interviews – Professor John Womersley, Director of Science Programmes and Sharon Cosgrove, Director of Strategy are available for comment, via the press office.


Peter Barratt
Head of External Communications
Tel +44 1793 442094
Mob +44 7879 602 899

Science and Technology Facilities Council

The Science and Technology Facilities Council ensures the UK retains its leading place on the world stage by delivering world-class science; accessing and hosting international facilities; developing innovative technologies; and increasing the socio-economic impact of its research through effective knowledge exchange.

The Council has a broad science portfolio including Astronomy, Particle Physics, Particle Astrophysics, Nuclear Physics, Space Science, Synchrotron Radiation, Neutron Sources and High Power Lasers. In addition the Council manages and operates three internationally renowned laboratories:

* The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire
* The Daresbury Laboratory, Cheshire
* The UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh

The Council gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institute Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the European organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) and the European Space Agency (ESA). It also funds UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility, which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory.
The Council distributes public money from the Government to support scientific research.

SpaceRef staff editor.