Cash boost to British science

December 12, 2002

Brussels, 11 Dec 2002

The UK Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, unveiled new plans for the Department of Trade and Industry's record science budget over the next three years on 9 December.

The plans include funding to develop life saving new health techniques, to seek alternative energy sources, to help the rural economy, to develop the computers of tomorrow and to boost business with the next generation of leading edge technologies.

'The government is to be congratulated,' said Ian Halliday, Chief Executive of the Particle physics and astronomy research council (PPARC). 'This much needed investment in fundamental physics will enable our physicists and astronomers to build on their high international standing, and engage in new collaborative international programmes.'

PPARC will see its overall budget rise from 256 million GBP (399m euro) in 2003/4 to 291 million GBP (453m euro) in 2005/6. It will receive a further 31.6 million GBP (49.2m euro) over this period to continue its e-science programme, and will receive 5.4 million GBP (8.4m euro) for research and development (R&D) in new accelerators as part of a joint programme with the Council for the central laboratory of the research councils. In addition, PPARC has been allocated nine million GBP (14m euro) to carry out research relating to gravitational wave detection and planetary exploration.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, meanwhile, will see its core budget increase by 26.8 million GBP (41.8m euro) for ongoing expenditure and by 17.4 million GBP (.1m euro) for capital expenditure. It will also receive extra funding for a number of programmes involving collaboration with other research councils, including eight million GBP (12.5m euro) for research on renewable energy and seven million GBP (10.9m euro) for a new energy research centre, as well as 60 million GBP (93.5m euro) to continue the basic technology programme, 18 million GBP (28m euro) for e-science and 15.6 million GBP (24.3m euro) for post-genomics and proteomics.

As announced in July, the research councils will also get an extra 100 million GBP (156m euro) from 2005/6 to increase the pay of post-doctoral researchers and PhD students, and an extra 120 million GBP (187m euro) a year from 2005/6 to fund some of the 'indirect' costs of university research.

Ms Hewitt said: 'Britain is excellent at science and we lead the world in the development of new technologies. This government is committed to sustained funding as scientific research is vital for our economic prosperity.'

The Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury ,said: 'With one per cent of the world's population, we fund 4.5 per cent of the world's science, produce eight per cent of the scientific papers and receive nine per cent of the citations. This money will help Britain remain at the leading edge of world science. As a result of the spending review, the rate of growth of the science budget will accelerate from an average growth of seven to 10 per cent in real terms. By 2005 and 2006 the science budget will reach just short of three billion GBP (4.7 billion euro) - more than double the figure in 1997 and1998.'

The funding announcement follows Prime Minister Tony Blair's keynote speech 'Science Matters' delivered to the Royal Society in May. In it he said 'Scientific discovery is one of the most exciting developments happening in the world today. But we have relied for too long on tradition and sentiment to aid our scientists. We need strong funding and public support'.

The allocation of budgets is set out in 'Science Budget 2003-04 to 2005-06' which can be viewed at the following web address:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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