Government to invest record £26.3 billion in UK’s world-class science until 2021

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson has today (4 March 2016) set out the government’s commitment to put the UK at the forefront of research to tackle some of the planet’s greatest challenges such as flooding, famine and viral diseases like Ebola.

Announcing a record £26.3 billion budget for science for the next 5 years from April 2016, the Minister confirmed that the government will continue to protect the science resource budget of £4.7 billion in real-terms. The government will continue to invest in scientific infrastructure on a record scale with £5.8 billion capital committed between now and 2021.

The budget also includes the introduction of the £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund, which will be used to invest in British science projects and businesses looking to tackle some of the planet’s life-threatening issues. The fund has already been used for a £1 million Rapid Response call for research grant applications to tackle the Zika virus.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

From the invention of the lightbulb to the creation of the world wide web, UK scientists have been instrumental in many of the world’s most significant discoveries, and we are determined to continue this legacy on a global scale.

In a time of tight control over public spending, we have guaranteed record investment for UK scientists so they can help us tackle climate change, produce disease-resistant crops and cure rare diseases.

The government is delivering a decade of sustained investment in science, and as long as scientists continue to discover, innovate, and drive economic growth we will continue to stand right behind them.

The dual funding system which provides two streams of research funding – grants awarded competitively, and a separate block grant for universities to invest according to their own priorities – will also be protected. These allocations see the balance shift in favour of university block grants – by 2020, 65p is due to be allocated directly for every £1 allocated to Research Councils, up from the current level of 63p.

It was also confirmed today that funding for higher education will include £400 million to foster and strengthen university collaboration with the private sector through the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) from 2018 until 2021. This builds on the earlier success of UKRPIF which provided £500 million to help higher education institutions across the UK secure over £1.4 billion of co-investment from business and charity partners.

Today’s allocations include final funding figures for the next 2 years and indicative figures for 2018 to 2019 onwards. This comes as the government considers the implementation of Sir Paul Nurse’s recommendations to integrate the 7 Research Councils under one Research UK umbrella, and ensure greater return on investment for every pound invested in science.

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