UK government unveils science strategy

The UK government has made public its science and innovation strategy including some plans initially outlined in the Autumn Statement.

The new document lays out key principles that it says should underpin science policy over the next few years. A significant announcement is the allocation of £3bn to support laboratories at universities and research institutes across the country.

“From cars to computers, ideas and ingenuity underpin British productivity and the UK is world-renowned for pushing boundaries in innovation,” said Vince Cable, Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The government funding blueprint also includes support for 'Grand Challenges' – large capital projects – such as a £30m commitment to ‘XFEL’, an international laser project, and £20m to ‘Inspiring Science Capital Fund’ to broaden the public engagement in science.

“We need to maintain our competitive edge so this strategy sets out a long-term plan for expanding our innovation infrastructure, creating high-value jobs and putting science and innovation at the heart of economic growth,” he added.

The European Space Agency (ESA) programmes will be funded with £95m, after the Chancellor George Osborne had already announced that the UK would be taking the lead in the ExaroMars mission that will land a rover on Mars in 2019.

Greg Clark, Universities, Science and Cities Minister, said: “This strategy builds on the great strengths of British science and enterprise and will make sure the UK is the best place in the world to do science and grow an innovative business.

“The UK’s long and brilliant history of scientific discovery and breakthrough has continued to be deployed in recent weeks with British scientists having been central to the Rosetta Mission and helping to tackle Ebola in West Africa.”

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