Support for the eight great technologies

Eight areas, listed by the Chancellor in a speech at the Royal Society last November, are to receive significant funding after he identified them as vital to the UK's future growth and to helping it stay ahead in the global race.

The Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, has confirmed that £600 million is to be invested in "big data", space, robotics and autonomous systems, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, agri-science, advanced materials and energy.

He noted the unique strengths of the UK’s research base but stressed that the Government now needs to capitalise on this by backing the right technologies and helping to take them through to market.

Mr Willetts said: "Strong science and flexible markets is a good combination of policies. But it is not enough. It misses out crucial stuff in the middle — real decisions on backing key technologies on their journey from the lab to the marketplace. It is the missing third pillar to any successful high tech strategy."

He also announced a £350 million investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in Centres for Doctoral Training and a £1 million Technology Strategy Board competition to help to accelerate the development of concepts where robots are able to interact with each other and humans.

Of the latest funding, £35 million is to go to centres of excellence in robotics and autonomous systems to be created in and around universities, innovation centres, science parks and enterprise sites to bring together the research base and industry.

Another £45 million will be provided for new facilities and equipment for advanced materials research in areas of UK strength such as advanced composites, high-performance alloys, low-energy electronics and telecommunications.

Lee Hopley, Chief economist at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said that the new measures should help to address the barriers faced by innovative SMEs in accessing expertise and facilities.

"Public spending on innovation spending, just as much as science, offers high returns and this should be a priority in the Government’s forthcoming Spending Review," she said.


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