During today's Autumn Statement, chancellor George Osborne made new promises to invest in science for the country's future.
“In the modern world one of the best ways you can back business is by backing science,” he told the House of Commons. “That’s why in the last Parliament, I protected the resource budget for science in cash terms.”
This time, however, he is protecting it in real terms so that it rises to £4.7bn, and this will result in £500m extra in science spend by 2020.
Peter Garratt, senior partner at IP firm Mathys & Squire, said he was “delighted” with the government's “commitment to maintaining the UK's position as world class centre of research with further investment in science”.
He has promised to protect the £4.7bn science research funding in real terms for the rest of the parliament as well as to deliver on the long term science capital commitment of £6.9bn between now and 2021.
So where is this funding going exactly? The chancellor outlined three key areas for investment during his speech:
1. The new Royce Institute in Manchester
Considered one of the key organisations paving the way for a “Northern Powerhouse”, the Royce Institute is responsible for research into different types of material. It's work is categorised into four main areas – energy, engineering, functional and soft materials.
Part of the University of Manchester, it is where scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov created graphene – a carbon-based material which is about 207 times stronger than steel.
2. Agri-tech centres across the UK
Osborne is putting money into building four “agri-tech” centres in Shropshire, York, Bedfordshire and Edinburgh. The purpose of the centres is to develop new technologies that will “increase the productivity and sustainability of UK agriculture”.
It comes at a time when dairy farmers across the nation face a huge decline in milk prices, caused by a glut in domestic milk supply combined with decreasing demand from Russia and China.
Earlier this year, the UK's National Farmers Union said farmers were facing a "state of emergency", after UK milk prices went down 25 per cent over the course of 2014.
3. Cavendish Laboratory
At least £75m will go into transforming the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, where, according to Osborne, “Crick and Rutherford expanded our knowledge of the universe”.
Since it opened in 1874, the lab has produced 29 Nobel prize winners, INCLUDING Francis Crick, who identified the structure of DNA, and Ernest Rutherford, who came up with the concept of radioactive half-life.