Researchers in Yorkshire given £10m of Government funding to support 'innovative ideas'

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Pioneering researchers in Yorkshire will benefit from a £10m cash boost to convert their innovative ideas to transformational products and services, the Government has announced.

Sunday, 18th October 2020, 4:47 pm

Updated Sunday, 18th October 2020, 4:52 pm

Working on issues such as climate change and terminal disease, one hundred of the UK’s up and coming scientists and researchers will receive a share of over £109m to develop their “blue sky” solutions to global issues such as food supply, cancer diagnosis and dementia treatment.

And some £10m has been awarded in Yorkshire.

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The investment will enable the most promising scientists and researchers in Yorkshire and across the UK to fund vital equipment and researcher wages to help drive forward their studies.

Dr Mauro Vallati, at the University of Huddersfield, who aims to create an artificial intelligence-driven, autonomous traffic management system to reduce traffic congestion. Photo: PA

Among the next generation of UK science leaders being backed include Dr Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso from the University of Leeds, who is working to make UK crops resistant to viruses and the impacts of climate change, such as depleted soils with little water or nutrients.

This will help to ensure the UK’s food supply remains strong during future severe weather events.

She will also determine how unused plant resources can be repurposed to create new biomaterials, such as bioplastics, which could be used as sustainable alternatives to plastics in manufacturing and packaging.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “We are committed to building back better through research and innovation, supporting our science superstars in every corner of the UK.

“Yorkshire has a rich history in scientific discovery, and has given the world the first commercial railway, stainless steel and even Liquorice Allsorts.

“By backing these inspirational Future Leaders Fellows, we are ensuring that Yorkshire remains a hub of innovation, helping our next generation of science leaders turn their brilliant ideas into vital everyday products and services that will change all our lives for the better.”

Other projects in Yorkshire to benefit the funding include that of Dr Mauro Vallati, from the University of Huddersfield, who aims to create an artificial intelligence-driven, autonomous traffic management system that will be able to use vast quantities of data to reduce traffic congestion – while monitoring the environmental impact of travel, such as vehicle emissions.

The system will be designed to effectively manage congestion in specific areas by altering existing traffic light sequences and to communicate with vehicles to suggest that they drop

While Dr Jennifer MacRitchie, from the University of Sheffield, will explore how we can help older people with dementia to interact with music, improving their cognitive, physical and emotional wellbeing by providing them with connections to their memories, emotions and identity.

Drawing on a wide range of easy-to-use instruments and technologies, such as touch sensors for instance, she will look to overcome barriers posed by the complexity of playing a musical instrument, and develop new ways for older people with dementia to create and engage with music.

And Dr Maria Fragiadaki, also from the University of Sheffield, aims to discover new medicines to halt the progression of Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD), a genetic disorder causing kidney failure that has no cure and affects over 12m people worldwide.

Her work could also provide insights that will benefit treatment of other conditions, including liver, skin and lung fibrosis.