Cavendish lab to receive £75 million in Spending Review

Elsa Maishman 26 November 2015

The government has announced plans to invest £75 million into the University’s Cavendish laboratory, as part of the Spending Review. This donation will be matched by the University.

The funds are hoped by the University “to transform the Cavendish, helping maintain Britain’s position at the forefront of physical sciences research.”

The money will be used to build a new Cavendish Laboratory in West Cambridge. The new complex of laboratories will serve 1,000 staff, students and visitors and feature teaching, research, library and administration space. The complex is planned to open in 2020.

This will be the third laboratory to hold the Cavendish name, originally named after the scientist who discovered hydrogen. It was in the first lab that Crick and Watson discovered the structure of DNA. 

The vice-chancellor, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, said of the new funding from the government: “This is fantastic news. The Cavendish is and will serve as a national asset, to the benefit of research both in Cambridge and across the UK.’’

He continued that “this announcement demonstrates the government’s commitment to regional and national scientific growth and innovation. It presents a major opportunity for us to create a world-leading facility in the heart of the greater Cambridge high-tech cluster and deliver a step-change in physical science research capability in the UK.”

Similarly, the head of the Cambridge’s Physics department, Professor Andy Parker, commented: “This funding allows us to continue the tradition of innovation and originality that has been at the heart of the laboratory’s programme since its foundation.”

Anthony Bridgen, a second-year Natural Sciences student commented: “It’s nice to see the government investing in science at a time when there seem to be so many cuts… However, that this money is going to somewhere like Cambridge which  is already so well funded, one could question whether their allocation priorities are right.”

 Alongside the funding for the Cavendish, the funding review also announced that a new Enterprise Zone will be created in Cambridgeshire, and for the first time, postgraduates will be able to get loans for their tuition and maintenance costs. 
They will also offer maintenance loans to people studying for part-time degrees and tuition fee loans for those taking second degrees in a STEM subject.

However, while former Cambridge City MP Julian Huppert praised the decision, the current MP, Daniel Zeichner, focused on other aspects of the budget, particularly replacing research grants with loans.

The original Cavendish laboratory was founded in 1874 on the New Museums Site. It is currently under development to create an access route.