Science and Technology Facilities Council
|Type||Non-departmental public body|
|Legal status||Government agency|
|Purpose||Funding of science research|
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is a United Kingdom government agency that carries out 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).
The STFC was formed in April 2007 when Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), 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) were brought under the one umbrella organisation.
The first Chief Executive of the STFC was Professor Keith Mason, he took up the post in 2007 and was replaced by Professor John Womersley in 2011. Professor Womersley servied as CEO until 2016 when he left to become Director General of the European Spallation Source. Dr Brian Bowsher, former CEO of the National Physical Laboratory and member of STFC's Council was the last CEO of the STFC before it was subsumed into UK Research and Innovation, a division of the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In 2018 Professor Mark Thomson was appointed as the first Exeuctive Chair of STFC under UKRI. He is still in post today.
Receiving its funding through the science budget from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), STFC's mission is "To maximise the impact of our knowledge, skills, facilities and resources for the benefit of the United Kingdom and its people" under several heads:
- Universities: the STFC supports university-based research, innovation and skills development in particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy.
- Scientific Facilities: They provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills.
- National Campuses: Working with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of research to market through direct interaction with industry.
- Inspiring and Involving: STFC help create a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
The STFC is one of Europe's largest multidisciplinary research organisations supporting scientists and engineers worldwide. 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. The 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.
It helps operate/provide access for UK and international scientists to the following large-scale facilities:
- Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
- DiRAC Distributed Research using Advanced Computing (Supercomputing facility)
- The space science and space exploration programmes of ESA
- European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF)
- Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL)
- Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING), La Palma
- ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
- Diamond Light Source, operating on STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory site
- (Diamond is also partly funded by the Wellcome Trust.)
- UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh
- Microelectronics Support Centre (MSC) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
- The Hartree Centre for high performance computing and data analytics at Daresbury Laboratory
- ALICE (accelerator), EMMA (accelerator), CLARA and VELA at Daresbury Laboratory
- The LHC Computing Grid (through its funding of the GridPP project)
- Boulby underground laboratories
- Advanced LIGO
STFC's budget is allocated annually by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
For 2015-16 STFC's budget allocation was £529 million.
Knowledge exchange obligations
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:
- L3 Technology (L3T);
- Orbital Optics Ltd;
- Quantum Detectors;
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.
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- "STFC Corporate Strategy 2010 – 2020". STFC Corporate Strategy 2010 – 2020. STFC. September 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
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- "UK Team looking for ripples in Space". News, Events and Publications. STFC. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
- "Science and research budget allocations for financial year 15/16, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills" (PDF). Gov.UK. gov.uk. September 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.