On 19 February 2021, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced that the Government is set to launch a new research agency to support high risk, high reward science.
The announcement comes as part of the Government’s plans to ‘cement the UK’s position as a global science superpower.’
The Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA) will be led by scientists who will have the freedom to identify and fund transformational science and technology at speed.
Backed by £800 million, ARIA aims to fund inventors to turn their transformational ideas into new technologies, discoveries, products and services.
In November 2020, the Government committed to investing £14.6 billion in R&D in 2021 to 2022, putting the UK on track to reach 2.4% of GDP being spent on R&D across the UK economy by 2027.
The new agency will be independent of government and led by researchers who will be empowered to use their knowledge and expertise to identify and back the most ambitious, cutting-edge areas of research and technology – helping to create highly skilled jobs across the country.
ARIA will be looking at how to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and experimenting with different funding models so scientists can deliver results at speed.
ARIA’s model is based on models that have been successful in other countries, in particular the influential US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) model.
Legislation to create the new research agency will be introduced to Parliament as soon as parliamentary time allows. The aim is for it to be fully operational by 2022.
CEO of TIGA, Dr Richard Wilson OBE, said:
“It is great to see that the Government is delivering on its commitment to increase R&D expenditure. It should be a priority for the UK Government to increase public investment in science, research, and innovation. Quality R&D expenditure can result in new jobs, new businesses, and new technologies.
“ARIA is a brilliant step in this direction. Increased funding for R&D, combined with reduced bureaucracy will allow the UK to strengthen its place as a leader for science and technology.
“However, the Government should bring forward its commitment to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP invested in R&D to earlier than 2027. In the video games sector, TIGA would like to see the Government introduce a Video Games Investment Fund (VGIF) to enhance studios’ access to finance. It could provide between £75,000 and £500,000 to developers nationwide, promoting the development of new technologies, original IP and encourage studio growth.”