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U.K. premiere pledges extra $2 billion for R&D

Money would offset funds Britain could lose when it exits the European Union

by Alex Scott
November 22, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 47

Credit: Newscom
May announcing her research funding plan on Nov. 21.
Photo of Theresa May U.K. prime minister.
Credit: Newscom
May announcing her research funding plan on Nov. 21.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May plans to hike British funding for research and technology by more than $2 billion per year. The increase, from about $6.5 billion today, is set to kick in by May 2020. It would more than offset the $1.6 billion that the U.K. science enterprise could lose when Britain exits—or Brexits—the European Union in the next couple of years.

The additional money will be used primarily to promote the translation of academic breakthroughs into commercial technologies, May says. “We have more Nobel Laureates than any country outside the United States, but all too often great ideas developed here end up being commercialized elsewhere,” May says. “We are ambitious for Britain to become the global go-to place for scientists, innovators, and tech investors.”

Some of the additional cash may also be directed toward improving education in STEM subjects.

The proposals were warmly received by the U.K.’s technology companies. “This is hugely welcome and will be well received by everybody involved in U.K. life sciences,” says Mike Thompson, CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

The U.K. government will publish an outline for a new research and technology strategy by year-end with a view to garnering industry input before issuing a strategy document in early 2017.


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