The JIF scheme is funded by the UK government and the Wellcome Trust, the world's largest biomedical research charity. It was set up after several reports found that a shortage of state-of-the-art research equipment was making it difficult for universities in the UK to remain at the forefront of international research. Nearly £320m has been awarded to 45 projects in 27 different institutions in the second round of the scheme. The size of the awards varies between £750 000 and £30 m.

The upgrade to the Lovell Radio Telescope will extend the life of the 76-metre telescope to the mid 21st Century. The useable frequency range of the telescope will be increased by a factor of four, and the sensitivity by a factor of five. The new funds will also treble the sensitivity of MERLIN - a network of UK radio telescopes link together to form a giant 'virtual' telescope.