The Tata Group has provided funding of £5.6 million (around Rs 56 crore) to the University Research Fellowship scheme of the Royal Society in the UK, which supports exceptional young scientists.
The University Research Fellowships under the Royal Society -- one of the oldest societies to have been granted a royal charter -- supports young scientists and has received the funding from a group of Tata companies, including Tata Sons, Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
The funding comes at a time when the Tatas have been grappling with the issue related to the sale of the Tata Steel’s UK business and are working closely with the British government to save thousands of steel jobs, and also to reduce huge pension liabilities at the steel business, amounting to about £15 billion.
“The funding will establish nine new Tata University Research Fellows in the physical sciences and engineering over the next ten years, with the first Royal Society Tata University Research Fellows due to be appointed in October 2016,” said a Tata Sons statement.
The Royal Society is a self-governing fellowship of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The society’s fundamental purpose, since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.
The Royal Society’s University Research Fellowship scheme provides early career scientists, who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields, with the opportunity to build independent research careers. The scheme, which is highly competitive, funds successful candidates for five years, with the option to apply for a further three years of funding.
The URFs are expected to be strong candidates for permanent posts in universities at the end of their fellowships and many have gone on to enjoy significant national, or international recognition for their work. The Tata funding will also establish an annual symposium, supporting networking opportunities for the Royal Society’s URF researchers and encouraging future collaborations that push back the boundaries of traditional research.
The Tata partnership with the Royal Society is part of a global university collaboration programme by Tata companies for strategic outreach to academia across the world. It is aimed at supporting university faculty and students through funded research programmes, sabbaticals, fellowships, and engagements with university leaderships.
Royal Society president Sir Venki Ramakrishnan said: “We are grateful to the Tata companies for their incredibly generous gift, which will allow us to extend the URF scheme so that more young scientists and engineers will have an opportunity to access the excellent support and career development this programme provides. We hope the Tata URF scheme will make a lasting impact on the physical sciences and engineering in the UK.”
Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry said: “The Tata group has a rich heritage of collaboration with the world-renowned academic institutions, including in the United Kingdom. I am confident that the Royal Society Tata University Research Fellows will make an impactful difference by contributing solutions to some of the most pressing challenges the world faces.”