UK to launch £800m research agency

February 19, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
UK to launch £800m research agency
The €922m Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA) will work alongside the existing UKRI funding agency but its focus is unclear.

The UK government is planning to launch a new independent research body to fund high-risk, high-reward scientific research with backing of £800m (€922m).

The Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA) is starting to recruit leading scientists to lead it and identify and fund transformational science and technology at speed.

The new agency will have to work alongside the £6bn UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) agency that deliberately brought together all seven research organisations funded by the science budget of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It has also recently launched a small light touch fund for ‘high risk’ research. There are also nine Catapults that focus on more commercial research and development in areas such as Satellite Applications, Compound Semiconductors, Digital systems (including AI), High Value Manufacturing and Connected places, aka Smart Cities.

ARIA is deliberately modelled on the US ARPA and DARPA agencies that took a long term view of research, but with a short term drive to commercialisation to develop technologies at speed.

“The ARPA model’s focus on the future would also be a welcome addition to the UK’s R&D funding system, scanning the horizon for areas of research and technology development that may not have an obvious immediate market application but that are likely to benefit the industries of tomorrow, in 10, even 20 years’ time,” said the UK’s Institute of Physics.

“By stripping back unnecessary red tape and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency will be given the freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow, as we continue to build back better through innovation,” said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

“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,” he said. “It will experiment with funding models including program grants, seed grants, and prize incentives, and will have the

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