Software Sustainability Institute awarded £6.5 million UKRI funding

The Software Sustainability Institute, a team of software experts from the universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford and Southampton, has been awarded £6.5 million funding from the 7 UK Research Councils that are part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to continue its world-leading work helping thousands of UK researchers use software to increase the impact of their research.

The Institute was initially funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in 2010. In 2016, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council(BBSRC), joined EPSRC to further invest and help continue the work of the Institute throughout its second phase.

This new third phase of The Software Sustainability Institute has been funded by all research councils until 2023.

Bill McAlister, Research Portfolio Manager at EPSRC, said:

Phase 3 of the SSI is a key investment for EPSRC which highlights the importance we place on software infrastructure for supporting high quality computational research in the UK. It is also apparent that this is a feeling shared by our colleagues across UKRI, as exemplified by the level of investment from across all of the Research Councils into this iteration of the SSI.”

Since 2010, the Institute has developed and advocated for an understanding of the fundamental importance of research software, its developers and users, its requirements, and how software advances research in the UK.

Over the last eight years, the Institute has built a network of over 110 Fellows acting as advocates for software best practice in their research disciplines, published over 80 software-related guides used by researchers across the UK and the world, organised over 180 training events for 4,500+ researchers to learn the software skills required in modern research, and provided software consultancy to improve the maintainability of over 60 different research projects from across all research councils. The Institute has also been nationally and internationally successful in the creation and advocacy of the Research Software Engineer role and growth of a worldwide community of Research Software Engineers.

Professor David De Roure, co-investigator and a founding member of the Institute, said of the announcement:

Software sustainability is important in and across all disciplines, so I hugely welcome our new broader scope. I'm personally looking forward to developing our enagement further with the humanities as well as social sciences. The Institute has already featured in the national Digital Humanities landscape for several years as a supporter of the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School.”

Dr Caroline Jay, one of the Institute’s new Co-Investigators and Research Director based at the University of Manchester, commented:

“The Institute has been supporting researchers in writing better software since 2010. In its next phase, we will focus on building the evidence bank for practice and policy, to ensure that the software underpinning research in the UK – and internationally – is engineered in the most robust, reliable and reusable way.”

During the new phase, the Institute will nurture the growth of communities of practice to foster the sharing of expertise across the entire research community, conduct research to provide insight into the use of software in research, continue enabling widespread adoption of research software practices, and offer training and guidance to help build a capable researcher community and increase the recognition of software in research.

The £6.5 million funding awarded by the Research Councils will aid the Institute’s founding goal of enabling the research community to take full advantage of software and, in doing so, advancing world-class research in the UK.

Phase 3 of The Software Sustainability Institute has been funded by:

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC),
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC),
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC),
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC),
Medical Research Council (MRC),
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC),
Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)

UK Research and Innovation is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the Arts and Humanities Research Council; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Economic and Social Research Council; Innovate UK; Medical Research Council; Natural Environment Research Council; Research England; and Science and Technology Facilities Council.