The government has committed a combined £743.5 million of funding which will be allocated to a variety of innovative projects at London Tech Week.
This investment into “the technologies of tomorrow” will help cement the UK’s place as a “global science superpower”, the government says.
Announced at London Tech Week [June 13-17], the funding will support new innovations in areas spanning autonomous vehicles to airborne laboratories, which ministers say will create skilled jobs and stimulate economic growth.
The investment follows the 2021 publication of the government’s Innovation Strategy, which placed innovation at the heart of government activity and pledged to shore up the UK’s competitiveness on the global stage.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng commented: “The incredible work of the Vaccine Taskforce, housed at my department through the pandemic, demonstrated that this country is home to some of the best scientists and innovators in the world.
“I’m immensely proud of the work we have done to support ground-breaking research so far, having confirmed £40 billion in funding for R&D over the next three years and placing it at the very top of our agenda. London Tech Week itself is testament to that.
“Today [June 15], we’re announcing over £743 million in investment – including in the latest quantum technologies, to ensure Britain has pole position in the global marketplace in a host of new areas.”
The investments include an allocation of £481 million to the UKRI Infrastructure Fund; £118 million to the Accelerating Impact programme which will turn the best and brightest disruptive ideas into innovations; and £6 million of funding to the winners of UKRI’s ISCF Commercialising Quantum Technologies, which will go into 16 different projects to help realise a “quantum-enabled economy."
Speaking at London Tech Week, science minister George Freeman announced several new initiatives including a Fast Start competition run by Innovate UK, which will provide a new series of £30 million grants to back UK start-ups and entrepreneurs to develop new innovative products to shore up the UK economy in key sectors.
Freeman also announced that the UKRI’s Future Leader Fellowships will continue with £100 million of new funding, and a new Enabling a Responsible AI Ecosystem programme will be launched with £8.5 million of backing, which will be the UK’s first major research programme on AI ethics of such large scale. The initiative will help address some of the biggest ethical questions posed by AI to build public trust, drive adoption and harness the technology’s potential in a responsible way.
Combined, all of these initiatives amount to £743.5 million of government investment, which will come under the £40 billion R&D investment planned over the next three years.
The government has said that the projects it is investing in have the potential to deliver significant benefits to the UK economy and British society at large.
Speaking before an audience of investors, policymakers and industry leaders at the Quantum Computing Summit, Kwarteng highlighted how the projects being supported by the latest round of UKRI’s Commercialising Quantum Technologies Challenge will support the development of new quantum products, meaning that £153 million will be invested over the lifetime of the programme. This funding will go into helping companies commercialise quantum technologies.
Speaking at the Digital Catapult’s Cyber-Physical Future Forum, Freeman confirmed an additional package of supportive programmes for innovators and entrepreneurs.
“As the entire government focuses on tackling the cost-of-living, it is my firm belief that an innovation-led economy will deliver the jobs, growth and prosperity we need to help us rebuild across the country,” Freeman said.
“We are living in a time of huge technological change. New technologies are creating new industries at a pace that would have been thought impossible, even 10 years ago. As a responsible government, we must give our researchers and innovators the tools and the wherewithal to flourish.
“That’s why we’re announcing a record £743.5 million package of investment into the technologies of tomorrow, putting entrepreneurs at the heart of our plans to help power our economy while tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges, and supporting our ambitions to make the UK a science superpower.”
Freeman announced the new round of Future Leader Fellowships, worth £100 million, which will support talented researchers and innovators from the UK and around the world to develop and commercialise their work.
The 84 winners of the previous round of Future Leader Fellowship funding were also revealed, who will now be supported by £98 million of investment to help commercialise technologies that will help tackle major global challenges.
Some of these technologies include self-driven satellites with the capability to track and mitigate natural disasters, injectable gels to deliver life-changing tissue-regeneration therapies, and clogging-resistant permeable pavements that mitigate against the impacts of climate change and urbanisation-related flooding.
Photo by Robynne Hu on Unsplash