A �200m research ship equipped with robotic technology will boost polar research

�200m ship to boost polar research and encourage innovation

The UK government will fund a new £200m polar research ship equipped with robotic submarines and underwater gliders to boost science and innovation.

The development of the ship – a replacement for two existing polar research vessels that are nearing the end of their designed lives – is believed to encourage development of new technologies enabling creation of new businesses and industries.

"I am delighted that we are investing in a new polar research ship to carry cutting edge British technology to put British scientists at the forefront of research in both the Antarctic and the Arctic oceans," said Chancellor George Osborne.

"One of the final frontiers in the world where there is still much discovery to be done are the polar oceans. Britain must continue to have a presence in these parts of the world.”

With its on-board laboratories and robotic submarines, the ship will enable scientists to gather data about Arctic and Antarctic regions with improved efficiency. The ship will also be able to carry out longer voyages than the two existing vessels.

"A new state-of-the-art polar research flagship will extend the UK's capability and reach in polar waters. It also makes explicitly clear our long-term commitment to maintaining our presence and scientific excellence in South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands and the British Antarctic Territory," Minister for the Polar Regions Mark Simmonds said.

The funding of the ship, to be operated by the British Antarctic Survey, is part of a larger funding package for science that aims to turn scientific expertise into economic success.

Consultation with the scientific community will be launched today to discuss the allocation of a £7bn budget for major projects in science and research.

The consultation is designed to ensure that the money is targeted at areas scientists believe will bring the greatest opportunities for applications in business in an effort to rebalance Britain's economy.

Science Minister David Willetts said: "The next five years will see the largest ever sustained capital spend on science investment. Our scientists can identify the next Crick Institute or the next equivalent of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology for us to invest in."

"While as a country we have a proud record in scientific ingenuity, too often it has been other countries that have enjoyed the economic opportunity from it.

"Our long term economic plan is about ensuring Britain benefits from its scientific excellence.

"That is why we are taking the difficult decision to protect the science budget over the next Parliament. We are committing £7bn - no other government has made such a long term commitment.

"This is part of my personal priority to ensure Britain out-competes, out-smarts and out-does the rest of the world in scientific innovation and invention.

"Backing British science, supporting businesses seeking to grow off the back of it and protecting investment in it is a central part of our long term economic plan.

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