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BEIS announces launch of ARIA

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19 February 2021

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have announced the launch of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), a new independent research body to fund high-risk, high-reward scientific research. 

ARIA will be backed by funding of £800m to go towards transformational ideas for new technologies, discoveries, products and services. The agency will be independent of the Government and led by researchers who will identify and back the most ambitious areas of research, in part to help create highly skilled jobs. It will be based on models that have proven successful in other countries, in particular the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) model, which was instrumental in creating technologies such as the internet and GPS. 

The agency will have the ability to deliver funding to the UK’s most pioneering researchers flexibly and at speed, in a way that best supports their work and avoids unnecessary bureaucracy. It will experiment with funding models including program grants, seed grants, and prize incentives, and will have the capability to start and stop projects according to their success, redirecting funding where necessary. It will also have a much higher tolerance for failure than is normal, recognising that in research the freedom to fail is often also the freedom to succeed. This will complement the work of the UKRI, whilst building on the Government’s R&D roadmap. 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: ‘From the steam engine to the latest artificial intelligence technologies, the UK is steeped in scientific discovery. Today’s set of challenges – whether disease outbreaks or climate change – need bold, ambitious and innovative solutions.

Led independently by our most exceptional scientists, this new agency will focus on identifying and funding the most cutting-edge research and technology at speed.

By stripping back unnecessary red tape and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency will be given the freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow, as we continue to build back better through innovation.’

Science and Innovation Minister Amanda Solloway said: ‘The UK’s scientific community has a proud history of discovery, producing iconic inventors such as Alan Turing whose imagination and creativity changed the world as we know it."

But to rise to the challenges of the 21st century we need to equip our R&D community with a new scientific engine – one that embraces the idea that truly great successes come from taking great leaps into the unknown.

ARIA will unleash our most inspirational scientists and inventors, empowering them with the freedom to drive forward their scientific vision and explore game-changing new ideas at a speed like never before. This will help to create new inventions, technologies and industries that will truly cement the UK’s status as a global science superpower.’