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£63m funding for physical sciences research centre at Cambridge University

Cambridge University

Cambridge University

By Jennie Baker

A new centre at Cambridge University dedicated to research into the physical sciences has received a £63 million cash boost.

The provisionally-named Maxwell Centre will investigate new approaches to fundamental science and look for solutions to global challenges such as the growing demand for natural resources.

The centre will be created at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University’s West Cambridge site and it is set to open in summer 2015. It has been promised £21 million by the Government and other funding has been secured through gifts and industrial contracts.

Prof Sir Richard Friend, the Cavendish professor of physics, who will be the centre’s first director, said: “The Maxwell Centre will be the vehicle for translating ‘blue skies’ research into products of importance for the industrial sector.

“This will not be conventional research or ‘business as usual’, but a major effort to go beyond the boundaries of traditional physical science concepts.

“The key to innovation is an effective bottom-up approach to fundamental research. We will combine work on the specific challenges facing collaborators with research into areas at the edges of current conception – the ‘unknown unknowns’.”

The Maxwell Centre will focus on working with small and medium-sized businesses, and commercialising new discoveries.

Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, vice chancellor of Cambridge University, said: “The university has already invested very heavily to build up our research base on the West Cambridge science and technology campus and, through the Maxwell Centre, we will capitalise on this resource by embedding industrial engagement still further into the university.”

Andrew Lansley, the MP for South Cambridgeshire, said the award “further reinforces the strong research base that Cambridge offers”.

He said: “Under this Government, Cambridge has succeeded in attaining high levels of support for its science and technological research, which is an essential component of fast economic growth.

“By bringing our world-leading universities and researchers together with industry leaders, as this new partnership will do, we are ensuring the UK delivers on its high-tech potential.”

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