NEWS22 February 2021

UK to launch science research agency

Innovations News Public Sector Technology UK

UK – The government is to launch an £800m scientific research agency to fund ‘high-risk’ technology projects. 

Downing Street

The Advanced Research & Invention Agency (Aria) will provide funding for ‘inventors to turn their transformational ideas into new technologies, discoveries, products and services’, according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (Beis).

The agency will be based on the Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa) in the US, which has led development of technologies including GPS. Its successor, Darpa, focuses on experimental military technologies and has funded mRNA vaccines, the pre-cursor to Covid-19 vaccinations.

Dominic Cummings, former senior adviser to the prime minister, previously backed the launch of a British version of Arpa.

The new body will operate independently but work alongside existing funding agency UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The government aims to launch the agency in 2022.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the agency would reduce "unnecessary red tape" and be given "freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow".

A report from the Times suggested that the agency will be exempted from freedom of information laws. 

Science and innovation minister Amanda Solloway said: "To rise to the challenges of the 21st century we need to equip our R&D community with a new scientific engine – one that embraces the idea that truly great successes come from taking great leaps into the unknown."