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Previously Funded Programmes

The Research Councils have a long history of working together and collaborating on multidisciplinary programmes. Below, are some of the previous investments that have been made including links to further information and any ongoing research investments in these areas. Further information on previously funded programmes can be found on theNational Archive copy of this website.

Towards A Sustainable Energy Economy Programme

The demand for energy is increasing throughout the world, but meeting this demand with fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. The challenge is to find reliable, diverse, affordable, publicly acceptable and safe ways to supply and use energy, and address energy efficiency.

EPSRC coordinated a comprehensive programme of energy research, working closely with BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and STFC. This programme, which ran from 2002 to 2005 has since developed into the ongoing RCUK Energy Programme.


e-Science (or e-Research) is the novel use of ICT to support existing and new forms of research during all of phases of its life cycle, across all disciplines from engineering to the humanities. The UK Research Council’s e-Science programme, launched in 2001, aimed to give UK researchers a leading position in the development of “grid” technologies, research software and other e-infrastructures, which facilitate and enable research across all disciplines.

The programme ended in 2008, EPSRC continues to make investments in this area and more information about their e-Science Core programme can be found here:

Basic Technology

This programme was established in 1999 to develop new and novel technologies with the potential to be adapted for use on a diverse range of research problems and challenges. It seeks to create fundamentally new capabilities across all areas of science, and form the basis of new industries of the future. From 01 April 2005, the Basic Technology programme was solely funded from EPSRC’s budget with no additional ring-fenced funds. The programme ended in 2008.

Brain Science

Understanding the brain, its complex functions in health and disease and its interactions with the environment is one of the greatest intellectual challenges of our time. MRC, working with BBSRC, EPSRC and STFC, coordinated a programme of work between 2003 and 2007 to strengthen brain sciences research in the UK.

In addition, between 2002 and 2003, BBSRC, MRC, ESRC, EPSRC and the Wellcome Trust worked together to build on the ideas developed through the Cognitive Systems Foresight project to encourage joint working on natural and artificial information processing systems. Further information can be found here.


The amount of information known about the DNA sequence of different animals and plants is increasing rapidly. This knowledge has an impact on medicine, agriculture, the environment and biotechnology. BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC and STFC coordinated activities and funding research through a number of programmes to focus on such issues as understanding the interaction between genetics and the environment, and the risks and benefits of gene modification and therapy.

More information on the initiatives can be found through the following links:

Stem Cells

Stem cell therapy is a potentially revolutionary way to repair diseased and damaged body parts with healthy new cells. However, a large amount of research is needed to understand how stem cells work and how their potential could be harnessed for medical treatments. MRC, working with BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC and STFC coordinates support for research into the basic biology of stem cell signalling and differentiation, as well as research addressing translational issues in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Further information is available below:

NanoScience through Engineering to Application

Nanotechnologies can revolutionise society. They offer the potential of disruptive step changes in electronic materials, optics, computing, and in the application of physical and chemical understanding (in combination with biology) to generate novel and innovative self-assembled systems.

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