The UK has a proud history of scientific excellence and invention. Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and later, Alan Turing pioneered early predecessors of the computer. Thomas Newcomen and James Watt gave us the steam engine, and Michael Faraday gave us the modern battery.
This Government is committed to continuing this tradition and cementing our role as a science superpower. That is why our manifesto committed to creating a new funding agency, focused on high-risk, high-reward research. I am pleased to update the House that we will be fulfilling this commitment through a new Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), and we will also be introducing a Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows to create this body.
ARIA will have the sole focus to fund ground-breaking research – research that sparks transformational societal change through the creation of new technologies and new industries.
With £800 million committed to ARIA up to 2024/25, ARIA will form a central part of delivering on our R&D Roadmap, published in July 2020, to ensure the UK is the best place for scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs to live and work, while helping to power up the UK’s economic and social recovery.
As we have developed ARIA, we have sought best practice from international partners. Success stories include DARPA in the US, whose predecessor, ARPA, was instrumental in creating transformational technologies like the internet and GPS. More recently, DARPA has been behind precursors to technologies such as Apple’s SIRI.
We have also listened to the scientific community about how these models can best be adapted for the UK to enhance our R&D offer. This includes ensuring ARIA complements existing funders and makes a distinct contribution to the wider R&D landscape. To this end, ARIA will have a bespoke purpose and structure, and will work in partnership with UKRI and across the ecosystem.
ARIA’s key features will be:
Alongside the Bill, we will recruit a visionary CEO and experienced Chair. They will develop ARIA by setting the agenda, shaping the culture, and building an exceptional team for the agency.
ARIA will further diversify our rich and dynamic R&D system, taking us to the next level of scientific and technological advances. Its successes stand to have an impact for how we fund R&D in the future, and ensure we maintain our outstanding global reputation for innovation and discovery.