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Skinny new money for science in 2012 budget

March 21, 2012

We’ve just liveblogged the budget announcement, which didn’t contain very much about science funding and even less new money for science.

The two exceptions appear to be an £100m commitment of “new” money toward university research centres, and the £60m toward a new aerodynamics research facility.

Details of the university funding are still fuzzy, but here’s what RCUK had to say about the proposal:

Research Councils UK (RCUK) is pleased to welcome the new £100 million investment in research capital for universities announced by the Chancellor George Osborne during his budget today (21 March). The funding, to be administered by HEFCE, will be dedicated to large capital projects which lever significant private investment, such as joint research facilities.

This funding is a boost to UK research, which has seen reductions to capital budgets, as it will help accelerate private sector investment in research infrastructure. Investment in the research base is essential to stimulating growth and this new funding acknowledges how vital research is to the economic prosperity and societal wellbeing of the UK.

RCUK activity encourages and facilitates partnerships between the private sector and researchers in UK universities through collaborative funding, knowledge transfer initiatives and by providing access to world-class facilities.

There don’t seem to be any similar details on the aerospace centre yet floating around, but it could possibly be a successor to the UK Applied Aerodynamics Consortium which looks like it closed up shop around 2007.

[UPDATE: Here’s what the budget white paper says about this facility:

£60 million to establish a UK centre for aerodynamics which will open in 2012–13 and support innovation in aerospace technology, commercialise new ideas and spin-off technologies with wider applications in other sectors. This is in addition to the £125 million Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative that will help improve the global competitiveness of advanced manufacturing supply chains, such as in the aerospace sector. ]

Any info, drop us a comment!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2012 4:50 pm

    Goodness, a whole £100 million on top of the “real-money” 10% cut in the “frozen but not inflation compensated” science budget of autumn 2010 and, of course, the subsequent 40% cut to science capital expenditure? Once these reductions are taken into account, is UK Science better or worse funded than it was two years ago? Still, given the government’s recent statements about the importance of all that Science and Engineering stuff in helping us make our economy a bit more like the rather impressive German one, Young Gideon Osborne certainly is being terribly generous in coughing up slightly less than the price of a single F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in order to heroically Save British Science. Were we a more sceptical individual we might wonder why UK Science funding is the remit of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills. (And note the lack of a comma there – it’s “Business Innovation” and “Skills” if you read it as English.) Shouldn’t there be a government department whose name actually mentions both “Science” and it’s more pragmatic older brother, “Engineering”?

    Is this the start of the New Enlightenment, then?

    • March 21, 2012 5:14 pm

      The omission of a science government department is an interesting point – in the US the equivalent funding body, the National Science Foundation, sits directly under the President, while the Research Councils in the UK are, as you point out, part of BIS.

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