Professor Rick Rylance: What starts in the tea room can end in the boardroom'

Research councils UK Champion for research careers

In the late 1990s, when Professor Shankar Balasubramanian and his colleague Professor David Klenerman bumped into each other in the University of Cambridge tea room, little did they know that years later their research partnership would develop the world's leading DNA sequencing product, and that their spin-out company, Solexa, would be sold for $600m (£380m), making it the most successful the university had ever seen. That's the power of working in partnership – not only between researchers but between academia and the wider world. It shows the importance of supporting the brightest minds and the best research.

We live in a knowledge economy, and if research is the application of knowledge and skills then nothing is more important than the people who hold that knowledge and communicate it to others. We at Research Councils UK (RCUK) believe it is crucial to develop a seamless way for people to move from being talented undergraduates to postgraduates, where they develop and specialise their skills, and to continue their development as post-doctoral researchers and beyond. But the story does not end there. Research fans out across the economy into diverse destinations and opportunities. What starts in the tea room can end in the boardroom.

A rewarding and challenging research career does not only mean the academic sector. Researchers are highly sought after by business and industry. Recent data show that 94 per cent of doctoral graduates use research skills in their job, whether in academia or other occupations. In fact, RCUK-funded researchers currently work with more than 2,500 businesses from across the UK, and these partnerships can lead to direct employment, spin-out companies or financial support for a PhD studentship.

The point is, research is valuable. It is a national asset that helps the UK grow and prosper. You, who are among the most talented, are crucial to all our futures.

RCUK currently funds more than 19,000 PhD students, and there are a variety of ways in which you can receive support. Typically, the majority of funding is awarded through research grants, which are highly competitive and selected through rigorous peer review. Research project proposals are judged according to the excellence of the research, and only the best are funded. Project proposals can be submitted by individuals or groups of people, and in partnership with other institutions and universities from across the UK and overseas.

Fellowships are awarded to outstanding individuals often shortly after they complete a doctorate to enable them to continue developing their research. Unlike research grants, which are awarded on the basis of a project, fellowships are awarded to individuals on merit.

Another mode of funding involves a PhD student working in partnership with business, industry, charity or civil society organisations, and can often lead to a partnership going beyond the doctorate. Depending on the level of involvement, the partner organisation can have a direct engagement with the direction of the research, and, over the years, postgraduate researchers have worked in partnership with some of the biggest names in UK business, industry and other sectors, including British Airways, Oxfam, Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, Airbus UK, Rolls-Royce and Procter & Gamble.

The opportunities for furthering your research career are vast and varied, and can open doors beyond the world of academic research. They are certainly worth exploring!

Next month, this column will explain more about the research funding application process, and consider the future of UK research over the next few years.

More information about RCUK can be found at www.rcuk.ac.uk

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Learning Support Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Experienced Learning Sup...

Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a flexible inspira...

Graduate Accountant - Banking - Bristol - £140pd

£100 - £140 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Graduate Accountant - Banking - Bri...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little