UK’s national synchrotron generates impact worth £1.8 billion

Credit: Diamond Light Source

A new study of Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron funded by STFC, shows the facility has had an impact worth nearly £2 billion since 2007.

The study by Technopolis and Diamond estimates an impact of £1.8 billion from research carried out at the facility by academic and industrial users, since it began operation 14 years ago.

The scientific, technological, societal and economic benefits of the research carried out at Diamond come as a result of the £1.2 billion invested in the facility to date.

Diamond Light Source provides industrial and academic user communities with access to state-of-the-art analytical tools to enable world-changing science.

Shaped like a huge ring, it works like a giant microscope, accelerating electrons to near light speeds, to produce a light 10 billion times brighter than the Sun, which is then directed off into 33 laboratories known as ‘beamlines’.

In addition to these, Diamond offers access to several integrated laboratories including the world-class Electron Bio-imaging Centre (eBIC) and the Electron Physical Science Imaging Centre (ePSIC).

Diamond is an independent, not-for-profit company jointly funded by:

  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), with an 86% share
  • one of the world’s largest biomedical charities, the Wellcome Trust, with a 14% share.

Diamond is located next to STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire, providing opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration with researchers working in life science, accelerator science, data analysis and more.

The Technopolis study reveals the wide-ranging quantifiable impacts made by Diamond since its establishment, including:

  • a total of 9,600 articles, resulting in a cumulative impact of £677 million
  • contributions to patents collectively valued at £10.2 billion
  • software and applications developed at Diamond Light Source with an estimated value of £51.3 million
  • 19,191 days of training for 7,668 participants.

Diamond has enabled groundbreaking scientific achievements, with 28 examples highlighted in the study, including research on the plastic degrading enzyme and a new synthetic vaccine for the virus causing foot-and-mouth disease.

In 2020, Diamond has proved invaluable in contributing to the understanding of the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and which drugs could be used to treat it effectively.

In addition, the research facility has hosted 80,000 visitors to date, promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge and learning to the general public.

Chief Executive of Diamond Light Source, Professor Andrew Harrison OBE, said:

Diamond’s mission is to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research. We do this by providing our users in academia and industry access to our state-of-the-art facilities enabling them to fulfil their research goals across a wide variety of scientific disciplines.

This report illustrates the fantastic return on investment and brilliant science being achieved by our 14,000-strong user community, who are tackling some of the most challenging scientific questions of the 21st century.

Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of STFC, said:

Diamond is an asset to STFC’s world-leading science estate at RAL. With support from STFC, the Diamond research facility continues to deliver both economic growth and research impact on behalf of the UK. It brings together the best of British science, as well as fostering multi-disciplinary research activity with a wide range of global collaborators.

Diamond continues to deliver against real-world challenges, with some of their recent successes including enhancing our understanding of the COVID-19 virus.

Since operations started, more than 14,000 researchers from both academia and industry have used Diamond to conduct experiments, with the support of approximately 760 world-class staff. More than 10,000 scientific articles have been published by our users and scientists.

Funded by the UK government through STFC, and by the Wellcome Trust, Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world. Its pioneering capabilities are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research.

Read the full report (Zenodo website)

Source: UK Research and Innovation.

Launched in April 2018, UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). They bring together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England, which is responsible for supporting research and knowledge exchange at higher education institutions in England, and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. For more details go to:


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