The UK government and the Wellcome Trust have announced the biggest investment in the infrastructure of university science for 40 years. Up to £320 million ($519 million) will go to 45 projects in 27 universities, as part of a second round of awards intended to compensate for years of under-funding (see Nature 399, 187; 1999).
Project budgets range from £750,000 to £30 million, although exact amounts will depend on the outcome of a procurement review. Overall, the University of Cambridge looks set to do best from this round of Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF) awards, with bids totalling £83 million — more than a quarter of the round's fund.
But the largest bid — for more than £30 million — is for a new chemistry research laboratory at the University of Oxford. Successful bids include the refurbishment of the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank (£2.3 million) and a facility for research into dark matter (£3.8 million) at the University of Sheffield.
Michael Dexter, director of the Wellcome Trust, says that many high-quality bids had to be turned down. An award fund of £750 million has received bids for more than £2 billion. The scheme was set up in July 1998, and is funded by £300 million each from the government and the Wellcome Trust, and £150 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.