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Strategic partnerships with universities

BBSRC invests around £260 million per year in UK universities to fund excellent research and training for the widest possible benefit.

We fund research in around 80 UK institutions through research grants with scientific excellence and strategic relevance. More than 75% of our funding goes to the top funded universities.

We value all interactions with all universities. Funding of excellence, wherever found in the university system, remains at the heart of our philosophy. However, we recognise that certain universities, based on their volume of BBSRC competitive funding and/or strength in our strategic priority areas, are particularly important to help us deliver our ambitious strategy for UK bioscience.

Our Delivery Plan commits us to working closely in partnership with such universities:

"By working more closely with our partner HEIs, and ensuring that they are fully 'networked' with one another and with the Institutes, we will be able to deliver scientific advances more efficiently e.g. through common objectives, co-ordination of research efforts and greater sharing of facilities."

What is meant by strategic partnership?

Strategic partnership involves increased dialogue between us and senior management of partner universities (usually at the level of VC, PVC (research) and head of school). Through this dialogue we understand each other's strategic priorities and direction to enable a more joined-up, synergistic and efficient approach to investment.

Partnership is important and underlines the two-way nature of the relationships. Our strategic partners must show clear commitment to working with us in their strategic planning, actions and deployment of their own resources.

Being a strategic partner does not mean special funding or favouritism for the university.

How do strategic partnerships work?

We continue to encourage all of our funded universities and grant-holders to contact us. We are very happy to answers questions and provide further details on our funding schemes and priorities. We are also pleased to visit universities when invited and as resources allow.

With strategic partner universities we additionally aim to hold six-monthly, senior-level bilateral meetings, backed by quarterly teleconferences, to discuss a range of strategic issues of mutual interest. A valuable aspect of this dialogue is the role that universities play as 'critical friends' in the early stages of wider consultations on new directions and policies.

Who are the strategic partner universities?

Partner universities are typically those that:

  • are among our top 10-12 funded universities and/or
  • are strong in one or more of our strategic priority areas or
  • possess other strategic capabilities that are vital for our strategy. For example, universities hosting institutes strategically funded by us.

Strategic partner universities must show willingness to work with us and to deploy the university's own resources to further mutual aims and ambitions.

Most of our partnerships will be with single institutions, but we recognise the benefits of working with clusters or consortia of universities that together add further value and meet the above requirements.

Our current strategic partners are:

  • Aberystwyth University
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of East Anglia
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • University of Glasgow
  • Imperial College London
  • The University of Manchester
  • The University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • University College London
  • The University of Warwick

Commitment to partnerships is time consuming and resource intensive. Therefore, we are only able to recognise around 8-12 universities at any one time. This group will normally be for the duration of a spending review period. After this new priorities and opportunities will develop, and our partners will adjust accordingly.