UK's research and innovation organisations welcome Budget

8 March 2017

The announcement of the first tranche of challenges to be supported by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and additional support for high skilled research talent has been welcomed by the UK’s research and innovation leaders.

Dr Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive of Innovate UK said:

"The Chancellor’s announcement today is a great example of how the Industrial Strategy challenge fund will deliver the science that business needs. The first three challenge areas are: developing revolutionising battery technology, getting innovative medicines to patients more quickly and developing robots for use in hazardous environments. The UK has scientific expertise in these areas and we have excellent companies ready and willing to translate the technology into business growth across the UK.

"The Challenge fund is like nothing we have seen before in the UK, and it has enormous potential to deliver. These challenges are just the start and Innovate UK and the Research Councils are already working together, building on the evidence we’ve gathered from businesses across the country to look at the next tranche of support we can provide to get the UK’s researchers and businesses working together and firing on all cylinders."

Professor Philip Nelson, Chair of Research Councils UK said:

"The Chancellor’s announcements are most welcome. Long-term funding for research and developing high-skilled research talent is vital to the UK’s future as a science power, allowing us to continue feeding the pipeline that transforms research into products and services. The UK is at the fore in many aspects of these fields, but countries across the globe are putting effort and resource in too, so these investments are strategically significant."

The Spring Budget announced an initial investment of £270 million in 2017-18 to kick-start the development of disruptive technologies that have the potential to transform the UK economy.

Following engagement with experts in academia and industry, the Budget announces that the first wave of challenges funded from the ISCF will include the following:

  • Leading the world in the development, design and manufacture of batteries that will power the next generation of electric vehicles, helping to tackle air pollution
  • Developing cutting-edge artificial intelligence and robotics systems that will operate in extreme and hazardous environments, including off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining
  • Accelerating patient access to new drugs and treatments through developing brand new medicine manufacturing technologies, helping to improve public health

The Budget also announced an investment of £250 million over the next four years to continue to build the pipeline of high-skilled research talent necessary for a growing and innovative economy:

  • £90 million will provide an additional 1,000 PhD places in areas aligned with the Industrial Strategy. Around 85% will be in STEM disciplines, and 40% will directly help strengthen collaboration between business and academia through industrial partnerships
  • A further £160 million will support new fellowships for early and mid-career researchers in areas aligned to the Industrial Strategy

Further information