In a major speech David Willetts has set out how the government will fund research into cutting-edge technology and help make the UK one of the best places in the world to do science.
He explained how the £600 million of extra science funding that was committed from the Autumn Statement in 2012 will be allocated. It includes:
- £189 million for big data
- £25 million for space
- £35 million for robotics and autonomous systems
- £88 million for synthetic biology
- £20 million for regenerative medicine
- £30 million for agri-science campuses
- £73 million for advanced materials (with £28 million to the National Composites Centre in Bristol)
- £30 million for energy
The £600 million includes funding for research institutes, new facilities and equipment, and will be used to help the Advanced Metrology Laboratory in Teddington become a leading centre for the science of measurement (read the press release below for a break-down of funding).
Advances in technology, and the ability to develop them through scientific research, will be essential in supporting a high-tech industrial strategy, a fundamental part in the Department for Business’s ongoing work in encouraging economic growth.
Speaking at Policy Exchange, David Willetts described the unique strengths of the UK’s research base, but says the government now needs to capitalise on this by backing the right technologies and helping to take them through to market.
Strong science and flexible markets is a good combination of policies. But it is not enough. It misses out crucial stuff in the middle – real decisions on backing key technologies on their journey from the lab to the marketplace.
It is the missing third pillar to any successful high tech strategy. It is R&D and technology and engineering as distinct from pure science.
It is our historic failure to back this which lies behind the familiar problems of the so-called “valley of death” between scientific discoveries and commercial applications.
In the speech the Minister also announced £350 million investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in Centres for Doctoral Training, and a £1 million competition for the development of advanced robotics.