A new research agency focusing on areas of science and technology with the potential to generate ground-breaking discoveries has been announced by the Government.
The Advanced Research & Invention Agency (Aria) has received £800 million in funding and will be led by experts who will be given the freedom to identify and fund research involving “high-risk, high-reward” science.
The agency will be independent of government and will look at how to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said.
He added: “From the steam engine to the latest artificial intelligence technologies, the UK is steeped in scientific discovery.
“Today’s set of challenges – whether disease outbreaks or climate change – need bold, ambitious and innovative solutions.
“Led independently by our most exceptional scientists, this new agency will focus on identifying and funding the most cutting-edge research and technology at speed.
“By stripping back unnecessary red tape and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency will be given the freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow, as we continue to build back better through innovation.”
Legislation to create the research agency is expected to be introduced to Parliament, aiming for it to be fully operational by 2022.
Government chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: “The Advanced Research and Invention Agency will build on the UK’s world-class scientific research and innovation system.
“The importance of scientific innovation has never been clearer than over the last year and this new body provides an exciting new funding mechanism for pioneering R&D.”
The news was welcomed by industry experts and the UK scientific community, which said the new agency has “tremendous potential to enhance the UK and global research and innovation system”.
Dame Ottoline Leyser, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said: “The agency will have the freedom to experiment with pioneering new funding models, extending 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 catalyse an even more diverse, dynamic and creative funding system that will ensure transformative ideas, whoever has them, can change people’s lives for the better.”
Ruth McKernan, chairwoman of the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and venture partner at SV Health Investors, said: “Taking risks to create new innovations is critical to solving some of the major challenges facing society.
“When it comes to inventing new medical technologies, therapeutics and diagnostics, the UK excels.
“Aria should be well-connected to the existing research and innovation ecosystem, and act like a public sector venture fund where many ideas will fail and a minority will be transformative.
“It needs leaders who commission research and innovation flexibly across academia and business to deliver on a small number of challenges.
“What we have learned in the past year is that maintaining healthcare security should be a priority. Let us start there.”