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scientific community welcomes Chancellor’s £200m for science

The Autumn Budget announcement drew a great of interest from the scientific community, including a series of comments circulated by the SMC.


Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, said:

“This new £200 million capital investment in science is excellent news for our research base and our economy, and takes the total additional science investment since the Budget to almost half a billion.

“It will ensure we maintain our leading position in research, providing cutting-edge new facilities and vital infrastructure. It also underpins important industrial sectors and will unlock private investment in new products and services, driving growth and creating high-tech, highly-skilled jobs.”


Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of RCUK, said:

“Research Councils UK (RCUK) are delighted to welcome the new £200 million pound capital investment in science announced today (29 November) by the Chancellor George Osborne during his Autumn Statement.

“Investment in the research base is essential to stimulating growth and this new funding acknowledges how vital research is to the economic prosperity and societal wellbeing of the UK.

“RCUK is committed to supporting excellent research across a wide range of disciplines and providing access to a full range of world-class research facilities. A number of Research Council projects are among those to receive funding from this new capital investment, including:
•,£80 million for the further development of research facilities at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright.
•,£13 million for ARCHER Phase 2, the next generation UK high performance computer.

“RCUK also welcomes the news of a £62 million investment for upgrading science laboratories and equipment.

“The Research Councils continue to work together on the Large Facilities Funding Model to ensure that the optimal amount of funding for the UK’s world-class facilities is maintained.”


Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, said:

“We believe that the future of science depends on the quality of science education today. Because of the fast changing nature of science, and the fact that many science teachers have to cover subjects beyond their expertise, it is essential that teachers have access to high quality continued professional development throughout their careers.

“Since its launch in 2008, Project ENTHUSE has provided bursaries to enable science educators to attend residential training courses at the National Science Learning Centre in York, which has proven to benefit science teachers and their students. Today’s announcement will ensure that science teachers will continue to be able to do so long into the future. We are delighted to continue to work in partnership with Government in this unique, successful and internationally-recognised initiative.”


Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said:

“Investment in research and national research infrastructure has been shown to be the best way to generate long-term economic growth. The Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright is not only involved in furthering scientific knowledge and promoting innovation but in protecting animal health, rural livelihoods and food security. The new facilities for studying avian and other diseases will help to protect huge sectors in the UK economy and protect hundreds of thousands of jobs that would be at risk during an animal disease outbreak.

“When taken with the development of a £100M+ laboratory already under construction, this new investment will allow BBSRC and IAH to further our vision of founding an animal health science and innovation campus at Pirbright centred on world-leading research.”


Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, said:

“This additional £200 million for research infrastructure is good news. We have world class scientists and they need world class places to do their work – you would not keep a Da Vinci in a garden shed. The repeated references to science and innovation in the chancellor’s speech show a commitment to science and engineering being the basis for a sustainable economic recovery but it will only happen if we are willing to invest heavily, like many of our competitors. Today’s announcements must be the start of that additional investment rather than just a one off.”


Dr Mark Downs, Chief Executive of the Society of Biology, said:

“The additional funding announced by the Chancellor is very good news for science. There is still some way to go in ensuring funding represents real growth over the spending review period but credit should be given to the Government for these, and earlier, positive steps.”

“The focus on support for translational life science research to be announced by the Prime Minister in December is potentially a major step forward for the biological sciences, which have significant potential to help the economy grow whilst delivering major health, environmental and social benefits.”


CaSE’s Director, Imran Khan, said:

“The £80m for Pirbright and £62m for the Research Councils are real priorities for the sector, and it’s great to see Government has listened to researchers on this issue.

“Politicians of all stripes keep talking about ‘rebalancing the economy’ and moving towards high-tech manufacturing instead of relying on consumer debt – David Cameron discussed it at the Science Museum this month.

“These words have to be turned into action, so it’s really encouraging for the UK economy that last year’s cuts are being slowly reversed – investment in science and engineering is vital if we’re to achieve sustainable growth.

“Today’s extra cash is the latest in a string of announcements since the Spending Review, which gives me hope that the Chancellor realises we must stay ahead of the curve on research and development. It’s an area that the UK is uniquely placed to benefit from if we invest wisely, and we now need to see a genuine strategy from our political leaders about how we’re going to put science and engineering at the heart of our economic recovery.”


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