Government reveals plans for record R&D budget

The UK government has disclosed how the £39.8 billion R&D budget for 2022-2025 will be allocated to the partner organizations of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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R&D spending will increase by £5 billion to £20 billion a year by 2024-2025, a 33 percent increase over the current parliament in 2024-2025.

The allocations aim to deliver on the ambitions set out in the government’s innovation strategy, with investment supporting a commitment to ensure that total R&D expenditure reaches 2.4 percent of GDP by 2027.

Investments will contribute to the new cross-government approach to research and development, BEIS said, aiming to “deliver strategic advantage in science and technology, work with industry to boost private investment and promote prosperity, security and resilience.” to offer’.

This includes full funding for EU programmes, with £6.8bn allocated to support the UK’s association with Horizon Europe, Euratom Research & Training and Fusion for Energy. If the UK is unable to associate with Horizon Europe, funding allocated to Horizon Association will go to the UK government’s R&D programmes, including those supporting new international partnerships.

Commenting on the Horizon Europe assignment, James Wilsdon, director of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI) and Digital Science Professor of Research Policy at Sheffield University, said: “If association proves impossible or put on indefinitely, UKRI will presumably must step in as the delivery vehicle for any ‘Plan B’ – with the double-edged sword of a major budget boost, plus the complex task of reassembling the broken puzzle of UK-EU cooperation.

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) is set to receive more than £25bn over the next three years, reaching over £8.8bn by 2024-2025, the highest level ever and over £1bn more than in 2021-2022. This includes an increase in funding for Innovate UK’s core programs by 66 percent to £1.1 billion in 2024-2025.

Cash boost from autumn budget and spending overview

The UK Space Agency’s budget will also grow to more than £600m in 2024-2025, in recognition of the UK’s space sector adding nearly £16bn to UK GDP, BEIS confirmed.

The allocations follow the government’s recent commitments in the White Paper Leveling Up to increase public investment in R&D outside the greater Southeast by at least a third during the Spending Review period, and to provide these regions with at least 55 percent of domestic R&D. budget to be received from BEIS in 2024-2025.

“For too long, R&D spending in the UK has lagged behind our neighbors – and in this country science and business existed in separate spheres,” said company secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. “I am convinced that this has to change. Now is the time to unleash British science, technology and innovation to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Professor John Womersley, former chief executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), said that while the key figures in the R&D budget are good and following the previously announced trajectory to boost science funding, scientists are waiting to see how individual council budgets change. within UKRI it will do – and whether the main research funding lines that support university research will increase at the same rate.

“Researchers are also increasingly concerned that these increases will be swallowed up by rapidly rising inflation,” Womersley noted. “And of course the total research budget also includes funding earmarked to support the UK’s accession to the EU research program Horizon Europe.

“This announcement serves as a reminder that the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe continues to be blocked by the European Commission as part of the ongoing dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, despite the increasing number of European researchers insisting that the issues must be disconnected. This is especially true at a time when Western democracies with shared values ​​should work together in the face of external threats.”

Abhishek Maheswari
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