Scientists and researchers will get an extra £250 million funding this year to support pioneering research and drive the UK’s ambitions to become a science superpower.
As a result, UK scientists will have access to more public funding than ever before. This takes total Government investment in R&D to £14.9 billion in 2021/22 and follows four years of significant growth in R&D funding, including a boost of more than £1.5 billion in 2020/21.
It will mean UK Government R&D spending is now at its highest level in four decades.
This investment reinforces the Government’s commitment to putting research and development at the heart of plans to build back better from the pandemic. It will support vital and pioneering research while enabling the UK’s brilliant scientists, researchers and businesses to access and benefit from the world’s largest collaborative research programme, Horizon Europe – worth around €95 billion over the next decade.
Last month the Government announced the new Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA), backed with £800 million by 2024/25 and tasked with funding high-risk, high-payoff research that offers the chance of high rewards, supporting ground-breaking discoveries that could transform people’s lives for the better.
The Government remains committed to reaching its target of 2.4% of GDP being spent on R&D across the UK economy by 2027 and increasing the budget for research and development to £22 billion.
Dr Tim Bradshaw, CEO of the Russell Group, said:
“Providing additional funding for Horizon Europe to protect core R&D budgets is a good move by Government and underlines its determination to establish Britain as a global science superpower.
“Scientists and researchers have been a vital part in the emergency response to Covid-19 and this continued investment in UK science will pay dividends as we work to deliver our joint ambitions for the country – high value jobs and growth and a greener, healthier economy.”
Professor Julia Buckingham, President, Universities UK said:
“We are very pleased that the government has averted threats to UK science and research by allocating additional funding to support the UK’s association to Horizon Europe; and welcome their commitment to increase investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.
“Given current pressures on public finances this is a significant affirmation of the government’s belief in research, recognising the pivotal role it plays in the UK’s current and future prosperity, and ensuring UK universities will remain at the forefront of efforts to address the most pressing global challenges.”
The UK will associate to Horizon Europe as part of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) with the EU. We will pay a fair and appropriate share into the budget of this programme to enable the UK science and research sector to further their collaborations with our European partners.
Horizon Europe will be at least 20 percent larger than the previous framework programme, giving UK scientists and innovators access to the largest collaborative funding scheme in the world.
In addition to the £14.6 billion budget for R&D in 2021/22 set at the recent Spending Review, the Government will be providing funding for ongoing UK research projects already awarded under Horizon 2020, Euratom and Copernicus, which is worth over £500 million in 2021/22 for UK scientists and innovators.
The Government will be making available a further £250 million for R&D through BEIS in 2021/22. This comes on top of the £400 million increase in UK core research budgets announced at SR20 for UKRI and National Academies in 2021/22.
£400 million earmarked at Spending Review for 2021/22 to support government priorities and drive the development of innovative ways to build new science capability will help to pay for association to Horizon – meeting the key ask of the science community.
The terms set by the EU for the UK’s participation in Horizon EU involve significant upfront payments, which will benefit UK scientists in future years. Despite these upfront payments the generous envelope for R&D means that, based on estimated receipts to our scientists from Horizon, overall public funds for UK scientists and innovators in 2021/22 will increase compared to 2020/21
This follows four years of significant growth in government R&D funding and boost of more than £1.5bn in 2020/21 alone.
BEIS will now be confirming science budgets for its partner organisations in 2021/22 as quickly as possible.
BEIS will provide a breakdown of its R&D spending when final allocations are published later in the year.