Government questioned on funding and innovation plans

16 April 2021 | Muriel Cozier

ARIA has potential to provide greater funding certainty

The UK Government’s Advanced Research and Innovation Agency (ARIA) Bill, has begun its committee stage.

The intention of ARIA is to establish a new research funding agency specifically aimed at providing long-term support for ‘high-risk, high-payoff, blue-skies research.’ The Bill is sponsored by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. During the March 2020 budget; the Chancellor announced that the  Government would invest  at least ‘£800 million’ in ARIA as  part of the Government’s wider commitment to increase public R&D funding to £22 billion by 2024-25, and increase overall UK spending on R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

The day after the ARIA Bill reached its committee stage, Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was questioned on broad range of science issues by the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee. Commenting on one of the benefits of ARIA Kwarteng said that the Bill could provide longer lead time in research funding. ‘ARIA will provide capacity for multiyear comprehensive funding,’ Kwarteng commented.

Kwarteng also used the Committee meeting to highlight the new Innovation Strategy which is due to be published at the end of June. ‘The Innovation Strategy sets out the tram lines [as to] how we can promote and increase innovation in this country, and where we want to see this innovation. The old Industrial Strategy was too broad and not focused. The Innovation Strategy takes a streamlined approach’ Kwarteng said.

He also made clear that while the Government’s commitment of 2.4% of GDP going to research and development by 2027 was ‘cast iron,’ he highlighted the important role that the private sector played in building the UK’s global position in R&D. ‘We have fallen down historically in our relative inability to attract private capital and private investment in R&D, and that is something which I am very focused on,’ Kwarteng said.

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