The government have published a press release announcing £250 million additional funding to boost collaboration and protect ongoing research.
James Wilsdon, Director, Research on Research Institute (RoRI) and Professor of Research Policy at University of Sheffield said:
“After a nail-biting few weeks, tonight’s BEIS announcement on R&D funding is the news that the research community has been hoping and praying to hear. We now know precisely how the first year of UK association to Horizon Europe will be paid for—a mix of £250m in new investment from HM Treasury, and several hundred million of unallocated cash that BEIS had stashed behind its sofas. So there’s no need to raid other budgets at UKRI; indeed, the £400m extra for UKRI & the national academies over the coming year—announced in November 2020–remains intact.
More significant than the £250m number, the new aggregate total of £14.9bn public R&D spend for 2021/22 keeps us comfortably on track towards the government’s £22bn target by 2025.
So this is genuinely good news—as much as one could hope for at this stage in the spending game. And it will be a huge relief for universities & researchers across the board—even though the recent £120m GCRF/ODA cuts still sting.
Attention now shifts to the next Spending Review in the autumn, when we’ll hopefully have the next three years in the government’s R&D Roadmap properly costed and laid out.
Tonight’s other science funding headline—Joe Biden’s historic $325bn boost to US R&D—reminds us that research is a fast-growing global enterprise. So if the PM’s talk of the UK as a “scientific superpower” is to be backed up by action, we’ll need to see a lot more investment through the years ahead. But tonight, Kwasi Kwarteng, Amanda Solloway & the BEIS team deserve credit for delivering us a very Good Friday indeed.“
Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said:
“This additional £250m is welcome but the announcement is very opaque. It remains unclear how the government expects the £1 billion costs of association to Horizon Europe this year to be covered in the wider context of its commitment to deliver 2.4% of GDP for R&D and increasing the spend to £22bn. There remain significant questions to be answered which we will urgently seek to clarify with BEIS.”
Professor Julia Buckingham, President, Universities UK said:
“We are very pleased that the government has averted threats to UK science and research by allocating additional funding to support the UK’s association to Horizon Europe; and welcome their commitment to increase investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.
“Given current pressures on public finances this is a significant affirmation of the government’s belief in research, recognising the pivotal role it plays in the UK’s current and future prosperity, and ensuring UK universities will remain at the forefront of efforts to address the most pressing global challenges.”
Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, said:
“This additional funding for research and innovation is most welcome and reaffirms the government’s commitment to an R&D-led recovery. UKRI will be working hard with government and the whole research and innovation community to make the most of the significant public investment entrusted to us to build an inclusive and sustainable knowledge economy, now and for the future.”
Hetan Shah, chief executive of The British Academy said:
‘We welcome this announcement of how Government will pay towards association to Horizon Europe. The new funding of £250m, combined with repurposing of £400m which had already been announced at the spending review but not yet allocated will go a long way to protecting core UK research funding. This government has indicated it wishes the UK to become a research superpower. Hopefully we have overcome a hiccup in the road to this and now government will proceed at pace with its commitment to growing research and development budgets to at least the OECD average of 2.4% of GDP, and indeed in growing its ambition beyond that.’
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