The UK government is to invest £65 million in two landmark US science projects as part of a groundbreaking deal that is likely to pave the way for more transatlantic research collaborations.
Under the first-ever UK-US Science and Technology Agreement, announced on 20 September, the UK has committed investment worth £65 million ($88 million) in the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (Dune), two leading research initiatives that will explore the origin and structure of the universe.
The UK-US Science and Technology agreement was signed by the US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Judith G. Garber, and UK universities and science minister Jo Johnson.
The treaty is the first umbrella agreement between the US and the UK and outlines a commitment to collaborate on world-class science and innovation, building on existing successful research cooperation in recognition of the value of open data to further scientific research and strengthen both economies, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
It follows talks at the White House between US president Donald Trump and prime minister Theresa May in January, in which they agreed plans to strengthen UK-US cooperation.
“By working with our key allies, we are maintaining our position as a global leader in research for years to come,” said Mr Johnson on signing the agreement, adding that “research and development [is] at the core of our industrial strategy.”
“Our continued collaboration with the US on science and innovation benefits both nations and this agreement will enable us to share our expertise to enhance our understanding of many important topics that have the potential to be world-changing,” Mr Johnson continued.
Under construction in the US, the major international LBNF/Dune project aims to answer some of the most important questions in science and advance our understanding of the origin and structure of the universe. One aspect of study is the behaviour of particles called neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts, antineutrinos. This could provide insight as to why we live in a matter-dominated universe and inform the debate on why the universe survived the Big Bang.
The UK is already a major scientific contributor to the Dune collaboration, with 14 UK universities and two Science and Technology Facilities Council-funded laboratories providing essential expertise and components to the experiment and facility. This £65 million investment makes the UK the largest country investor in the project outside of the United States. UK involvement in the project will also provide opportunities for UK industry to build capability in new and developing technologies, for example, in precision engineering, cryogenics and accelerator-based applications.