‘By stripping back unnecessary red tape and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency will be given freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow…’
The UK Government is to establish a new independent body that will fund high-risk, high-reward scientific research.
The Advanced Research & Innovation Agency (ARIA) will be backed by funding of £800 million and will be led by ‘prominent, world-leading scientists who will be given the freedom to identify and fund transformational science and technology at speed.’ The Government added that the new agency will ‘help cement the UK’s position as a global science superpower, while shaping the country’s efforts to build back better through innovation.’
ARIA, which will be independent of Government, will be based on models that have proved successful in other countries, in particular the US’ Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) model. The Government said that central to the agency will be its ability to deliver funding to the UK’s most pioneering researchers flexibly and at speed, in a way that best supports their work and avoids unnecessary bureaucracy. It will also have a much higher tolerance for failure than is normal, ‘recognising that in research the freedom to fail is often the freedom to succeed.’
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said ‘By stripping back unnecessary red tape , and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency will be given freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow, as we continue to build back better through innovation.’
ARIA will complement the work of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), while building on the Government’s R&D Roadmap, published in July 2020.
The news of the agency has been welcomed across business, academic and research communities alike. Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive, UK Research and Innovation said; ‘Working closely together, UK Research and Innovation and ARIA will catalyse an even more diverse, dynamic and creative funding system that will ensure transformative ideas, whoever has them, can change people’s lives for the better.’
Matthew Fell, CBI UK Chief Policy Director added; ‘This is a prime chance for business, government and the research and innovation community to work together and turn ambitions into realities.’ The Royal Society said that ‘A UK ARPA could facilitate investments in technologies with radical potential that may not otherwise receive support through existing mechanisms.’