Science and Technology Facilities Council

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Science and Technology Facilities Council
STFC logo
Abbreviation STFC
Formation 2007
Type Non-departmental public body
Legal status Government agency
Purpose Funding of science research
Headquarters Polaris House
  • North Star Avenue,
    SN2 1SZ
Region served
United Kingdom
John Womersley
Sir Michael Sterling
Main organ
STFC Council
Parent organization

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is a UK government body that carries out civil research in science and engineering, and funds UK research in areas including particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy (both ground-based and space-based).


It was formed in April 2007 as a merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) with the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), along with the nuclear physics activities of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).[1]


The Science and Technology Facilities Council is one of Europe's largest multidisciplinary research organisations supporting scientists and engineers world-wide. Through research fellowships and grants, it is responsible for funding research in UK universities, in the fields of astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics and space science. STFC operates its own world-class, large-scale research facilities (such as materials research, laser and space science and alternative energy exploration) and provides strategic advice to the UK government on their development. It manages international research projects in support of a broad cross-section of the UK research community and directs, coordinates and funds research, education and training. It is a partner in the UK Space Agency (formerly British National Space Centre or BNSC) providing about 40% of the UK government's expenditure in space science and technology.


The activities of the council aim to enable scientists to answer what it believes are the 'big' questions such as:[2]

  • Why is there a Universe?
  • How did galaxies form?
  • Was there ever life on Mars?
  • How do planetary systems evolve?
  • How are the chemical elements created?
  • How does our climate work?
  • How can we create new materials to store energy?
  • How can we meet mankind’s need for abundant clean energy?
  • How can we design smart materials?
  • How do cells work?
  • How do degenerative diseases develop?
  • How can we design better treatments for cancer?

Funding crisis[edit]

In late 2007, it was revealed that there was a massive hole in the STFC budget.[3] It is expected that there are likely to be ≈25% funding cuts in astronomy grants. In addition STFC is undertaking other cost-saving measures by cutting down on various facilities, for instance Gemini south. The effect of cuts on STFC-funded research fellowships is yet to be decided.

The UK astronomy, particle-physics and nuclear-physics communities are extremely concerned about the funding cuts. Roger Davies said "I don't think the PPARC Council would have gone along with the merger if it had realised this would be the outcome".[4] On 23 March 2010, the ongoing STFC crisis was the topic of a 90 minute Private Members' Debate in Westminster Hall, on the "Future of Physics Research."[5]


It helps operate / provide access for UK and international scientists to the following large-scale facilities:


It employs staff at many locations including:

Knowledge exchange obligations[edit]

STFC is active in its responsibility for knowledge exchange from government funded civil science into UKPLC. As such, many technologies are licensed to UK companies and spin-out companies created including:

However knowledge exchange activities are not purely limited to commercialization of technologies, but also cover a wider range of activities which aim to transfer expertise into the wider economy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (2007). Office of Science and Innovation: Scrutiny Report 2005 and 2006. ISBN 0-215-03350-7. 
  2. ^ STFC Delivery plan 2008/9-2011/12,
  3. ^ Crowther, Paul (2008-01-11 et. seq.), STFC funding crisis: Astronomy, retrieved 2008-11-27  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ Corbyn, Zoë (2008-01-10), 10,500 sign petition to reverse cuts to science, Times Higher Ed, retrieved 2008-11-27 
  5. ^ Future of Physics Research, 2010-03-23, retrieved 2010-04-03 

External links[edit]