Last update: 21 May 2014
The programme includes a number (but not all) of the cross-departmental initiatives addressing broad issues beyond the remit of individual policy-driven programmes. It also includes other projects addressing specific (often emerging) issues best led from the central Unit.
Projects are largely managed through the "Central Initiatives" sub-programme but the Unit also manages sub-programmes which are time limited (eg New Horizons and DfT Horizons). These were responsive to ideas from external researchers and supported innovative research about future challenges and opportunities. Projects supported could cover the whole range of the Department's operations and responsibilities. Other time-limited sub-programmes included the government-wide LINK mechanism which provided support to academic/industrial partnerships conducting pre-competitive research. Additional sponsorship was offered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). More recently, research initiatives have been taken forward in collaboration with the Technology Strategy Board.
This sub-programme funds work which addresses central (or cross-cutting) issues or is driven by particular initiatives supported by the Department's Chief Scientific Adviser. This includes issues of research management, innovation and wider engagement with the public and private sectors.
DfT Horizons - completed [STP 19/5/1]
The objective of this responsive programme was to alert and inform the Department about long-term potential opportunities and risks to achieving its policy and operational objectives. Innovative thinking on opportunities and challenges beyond conventional planning was required. The research will identified and investigated areas where change in the external environment (eg technological advance, social trends, environmental or economic challenges) could affect the policies or operation of DfT. Following the First Call in November 2003 the programme supported six projects, while the Second Call in February 2005 approved funding for three projects investigating the handling and analysis of large datasets. The Third Call for proposals in December 2005 approved funding for five projects investigating the infrastructure requirements of hydrogen-fuelled transport.
LINK Future Integrated Transport (FIT) - completed [STP 14/6/4]
The FIT Programme offered a framework for collaboration between the public and the private sectors in support of integrated transport, an area of significant importance to the national economy and quality of life. The main objective was to support research that contributed to the development of transport systems that are safe, efficient, clean and fair. The programme closed to new applications in 2002. Of the 36 full projects in the programme, DfT offered support to 17.
LINK Inland Surface Transport (IST) - completed [CSU 28/5/6]
The main objective of the LINK IST programme was to support research contributing to the development of inland surface transport systems that would be efficient, safe and both environmentally and socially acceptable. In addition the programme was intended to contribute to the competitiveness of the UK transport industry, and the quality of life. Of the 42 projects in the programme, DfT gave support to 26. The programme was preceeded by LINK-TIO and succeeded by LINK-FIT.
New Horizons - completed [STP 14/5/2]
The New Horizons Programme (2000-02) was an opportunity for researchers to investigate solutions to current or emerging problems, or where the application of techniques and ideas in one area might offer useful advances in others. The freedom to think in the medium to long term, anticipating new issues and long-term solutions was paramount. Projects researching anticipated social, environmental and economic challenges, or looking at innovative methodology have been supported by the programme. In collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) the programme is also part-funding a number of studentships at various universities.