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Follow the Money

Have you ever tried predicting the future? What will our world look like in 10, 20, 50 years?

I was recently browsing the EPSRC grant website where you can see all of the funded research projects, organized by theme, organisation, research focus and a number of other criteria.  You can dig deeper and see the specific titles of the research.

This on it’s own is an extremely interesting exercise as you can see what problems the smartest people in the world are trying to solve, and you can see what problems the UK government is investing significant resources to find solutions for.  These human and financial resources should result in new technologies that will be impacting our lives for decades to come.

If you want to know what our future will look like, there is a logic to following the money that is being invested today.  So, I decided to follow the money and this is what I found.

Top Funded National Capability Themes

National Capability ThemeNumber of GrantsProportional Value

(£M)

Physical Sciences902710
Engineering692535
Information & Communication Technologies576434
Mathematical Sciences345199
Research Infrasructure262246

Top Areas of Focus within National Capability Themes

Grant FocusNumber of GrantsProportional Value

(£M)

Photonic Materials10664
Fluid Dynamics & Aerodynamics12361
Functional Ceramics & Inorganics13557
Performance &  Inspection of Mechanical Structures & Systems7449
Catalysis10346
Statistics & Applied Probability6942
Synthetic Biology4041
Materials for Easy Application7740
Analytical Science9238
Materials Engineering – Metals & Alloys3835

Top Funded Challenge Themes

Challenge ThemeNumber of GrantsProportional Value

(£M)

Energy501690
Manufacturing & Future378485
Healthcare415398
Digital Economy124155
Global Uncertainties7551

Top Areas of Focus within Challenge Themes

Grant FocusNumber of GrantsProportional Value

(£M)

Manufacturing Technologies253194
UK Magnetic Fusion Research Programme1184
Medical Imaging13392
Clinical Technologies14482
End Use Energy Demand8175
Nuclear Fission9072
Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering8655
Energy Storage6648
Process Systems: Components & Integrations5942
Information Systems7441

If you want to know what’s important to someone, find out where they spend their time and money.  Reviewing the funding profile provides an interesting guidepost to both the priorities and the likely trajectory of our society.

This is a high level and cursory analysis and if you have a spare 20 minutes, it’s interesting to browse through the projects listed on the EPSRC Website. Maybe explore your area of interest or maybe check out something entirely different.  If you look close enough you may just capture a  small glimpse into the future.

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