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Academy responds to ARIA announcement

Responding to today’s announcement by the UK government of the launch of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA), the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, said: “We are delighted to see the government deliver on its commitment to a high-risk high-reward funding agency. I hope this ambitious new funding mechanism will help to unlock radical innovation and enable step changes in technology that provides value for our economy and society at large. Engineering is central to an ambitious innovation agency of this kind, forming the bridge between research and innovation to enable technological and commercial breakthroughs.”

Backed by £800 million of government funding over the course of this Parliament, the purpose of the new independent research body is to fund high-risk research that offers the chance of high rewards, supporting ground-breaking discoveries that could transform people’s lives for the better and maintain the UK’s position as a global science superpower.

The Academy put forward its recommendations for the new agency to deliver radical innovation in March 2020 when the idea was proposed. It will be important for the agency to have sufficient independence and autonomy to facilitate fast decision-making, flexibility and the freedom to fail.

If ARIA is to succeed, significant culture change will be needed in a UK system previously based on value for money, together with an acceptance that the beneficial outcomes of projects for wider society and consumers may not be measurable for 10-50 years.

A funding mechanism that delivers innovative answers to solve ambitious real-world challenges will need to bring together and develop breakthrough research and technology, providing ample funding, flexibility, skills, a high-risk appetite, close collaboration with end-users and deliver through strategic alliances between industry, academics and public sector agencies.

Notes for editors

  1. Legislation to create the new research agency will be introduced to Parliament, setting out its framework, including its specific functions, powers and governance arrangements. The aim is for it to be fully operational by 2022.
  1. The Academy’s blueprint drew on insights from its Fellows and network of partners, many of whom have experience of working with ARPA and similar programmes in the US:

Radical Innovation – a blueprint for a new UK research and technology funding agency (180.25 KB)

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.

Media enquiries to:

Pippa Cox at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: +44 207 766 0745

E: Pippa Cox

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