The UK government has pledged to increase its spending on research and development by £2bn per year by 2020. A speech by Theresa May on Monday announced the extra funding for R&D, and also indicated that some of the new investment will be aligned with a new industrial strategy for the UK. This was confirmed by today's Autumn Statement (PDF) announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
The Prime Minister said that an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund would be created to back projects for ‘priority technologies’. Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) were among the emerging research areas highlighted in the PM’s speech, and a government press release indicates that they will consult on how the fund would support emerging fields such as robotics and AI, industrial biotechnology and medical technology, satellites, advanced materials manufacturing and other areas 'where the UK has a proven scientific strength'.
The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), of which the RSS is an organisational member, has welcomed the new funding announcement. It called for increasing, over the longer term, the percentage of GDP that the UK currently invests in research and innovation, pointing out that the UK lags behind many other developed countries according to this measure.
The RSS Data manifesto also advocates greater investment in research, science and innovation, which could, in particular, develop the UK’s national capability to work with, analyse and understand data.
The government will publish a Green Paper on the industrial strategy before the end of the year.