New UK high risk science and technology research agency

The UK government has announced its intention to create a new high-risk, high-reward science and technology research agency. The Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) will empower leading scientists to identify and fund potentially breakthrough research to establish the UK as the world’s leading scientific company.

A date has not yet been set for the agency’s launch, but it is hoped that it will be fully operational by 2022. The government is currently recruiting a CEO and a chairman.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

ARIA will complement UKRI’s existing UK research and innovation body. It is influenced by similar organizations that have already proven successful, such as ARPA and DARPA in the US, which were vital to the creation of the internet, GPS, and the development of the mRNA vaccine.

ARIA will be dedicated to rapidly finding and promoting radical innovations through funding, business engagement and simplifying bureaucratic R&D processes. It will experiment with different funding models, have a higher tolerance for project failure, and continuously evaluate project funding options based on their success.

It is supported by £ 800 million that Chancellor Rishi Sunak provided in the March 2020 budget.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

In July last year, the UK presented its R&D roadmap, which promised to “strengthen our global position in research, spark a new wave of innovation, improve our national security and revitalize our international relations”. This included the obligation to promote R&D in areas with less acceptance and to remove barriers to innovation.

In November, the spending review pledged to invest £ 14.6 billion in R&D in 2021 and 2022, which supports the government’s drive to spend 2.4% of its GDP on R&D by 2027.

ON THE RECORDING

Economic Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng commented on the benefit of introducing ARIA: “This new agency will be run independently from our most extraordinary scientists and will focus on quickly identifying and funding the latest research and technology. By cutting down on unnecessary red tape and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency is given the freedom to advance tomorrow’s technologies while we continue to build better through innovation. “

Secretary of State for Science and Innovation Amanda Solloway added, “ARIA will unleash our most inspiring scientists and inventors and give them the freedom to advance their scientific vision and explore groundbreaking new ideas at a pace never before. This will help create new inventions, technologies and industries that truly cement Britain’s status as a global science superpower. “

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, CEO of UKRI, said: “ARIA has tremendous potential to improve the UK and global research and innovation system. The agency will have the freedom to experiment with groundbreaking new funding models and expand the reach of the current system to support people and ideas in new and different ways. Working closely together, UK Research and Innovation and ARIA will catalyze an even more diverse, dynamic and creative funding system that ensures that transformative ideas, whoever has them, can change people’s lives for the better. “

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