UK research and development institutions and researchers will receive a £5.9bn boost following the introduction of the science and innovation strategy, a roadmap of R&D investment priorities until 2021, the country's government announced in mid-December. “We need to maintain our competitive edge, so this strategy sets out a long-term plan for expanding our innovation infrastructure, creating high-value jobs and putting science and innovation at the heart of economic growth,” Vince Cable, secretary of state for the department for business, innovation and skills said following the announcement of the fund injection.
More than a half of this new capital will be put towards funding individual programmes, as well as functioning of laboratories at universities and research institutions across the country. A further £235m will be allocated to the building of the Sir Henry Royce Advanced Materials Institute, which will be based at the University of Manchester, with satellite centres at universities in Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford and London.
It is the UK's ambition to play a leading role in the works on the next European Rover mission to Mars, therefore £95m was allocated to this project, as well as to other programmes led by the European Space Agency.
Manufacturing research will also receive a catalyst, with £61m invested in the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a West Midlands-based governmental entity aimed at revitalising the UK's production capabilities. A further £28m will go into creating the National Formulation Centre, an entity designed to function within the catapult and focus on developing the next generation of products such as perfumes, composite materials and pesticides.
The governmental funding comes at a time when investment in UK R&D is in decline, data from fDi Markets shows. In 2008, foreign companies launched 25 greenfield R&D projects in the country. This number contracted during the financial crisis, first to 19 projects in both 2009 and 2010 before dropping to seven in 2011. In 2012, there were 10 new ventures and, in 2013, this figure dropped again to eight.