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Government on track to give science a boost

Earlier this year the government announced, in the March Spring Budget, plans to increase public R&D investment to £22 billion per year by 2024-25, exceeding the previous commitment to double science investment to £18bn.

Described as a landmark investment in what was the largest and fastest ever expansion of funding for basic research and innovation, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has now confirmed allocations of the R&D budget for the financial year 2020 to 2021. This will allocate £10.36 billion of funding to BEIS programmes and partner organisations.

This funding includes investment in world leading science and advanced mathematics, and in developing Net Zero energy technologies, automotive and aerospace sectors. It will also be used to secure talent and maintain the infrastructure needed to deliver world leading research, according to the UK government.

The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) welcomed the announcement, having long-called for increased R&D investment to unlock the scientific potential of the UK.

Commenting on the announcement, CaSE Assistant Director Daniel Rathbone said: "Following on from the announcement by the Chancellor in March of a significant increase in research spending in 2020/21, we now see that UKRI's budget will increase by a very welcome 20%. This will allow significantly increased investment in the UK's science base - supporting research that has the ability to drive economic growth and improve quality of life across the UK.

"The additional investment can also help protect and stabilise the delicate research ecosystem as it feels the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. We look forward to seeing more detail from both the Government and UKRI about how it will be protected in the coming weeks."

The latest BEIS research allocations represent a:

  • 19% increase in BEIS's total research budget from last year
  • 20% increase in UKRI budgets from last year
  • £1.6bn increase in BEIS' total research budget from last year

Neil Tyler

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