LONDON—British universities have been invited to participate in a network of interdisciplinary research centers that will be created if the government provides sufficient funds.

The Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) hopes to set up at least 10 such centers during the next three years as part of a new strategy to support state-of-the-art basic research that will have commercial applications. The program is similar in many ways to the new Science and Technology Centers program being launched by the U.S. National Science Foundation (see story on page 7).

The SERC invitation to the universities, with bids due by the end of this month, is in effect a form of political bootstrapping. The council cannot approve any of the new centers without additional funds, and the government body that controls those purse strings, the new Advisory Council on Science and Technology, wants to see a full slate of attractive proposals...

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