The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is a world-leading multidisciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.
Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions.
We support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science.
We provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas.
We work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry.
Inspiring and involving
We help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Video credit: STFC
Video transcript and on-screen captions are available by watching on YouTube.
We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the US, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.
STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.
Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and X-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.
They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.
Our two campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.
The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.
We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive public engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.
90% of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up, despite an overall decline in university enrolment.
As one of the nine bodies of UK Research and Innovation, STFC’s research seeks to understand the Universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, yet creates impact on a very tangible, human scale.
STFC is continuing to work with its community, reflecting on the achievements we have made since 2010 and exploring how we can develop an ambitious direction of travel for publication in STFC’s strategic delivery plan.
Last updated: 11 September 2023