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After yesterday’s Spending Review announcement promised ‘flat cash’ for science, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander today provided more detail on the ‘£300 billion’ of guaranteed capital spending by the end of the decade.

While commentators are pouring over the figures to see how much of this is new spending, the science community looks to the detail of the Treasury’s ‘Investing in Britain’s future’ report, to ascertain what capital expenditure has been assigned to science and innovation.

The Treasury has increased science capital funding from £0.6 billion to £1.1 billion in 2015-16, and sets an overall capital budget growing in line with inflation each year to 2020-21. This will include:

  • £185 million of additional funding for the Technology Strategy Board in 2015-16, which supports business-led innovation through a number of initiatives, including the seven Catapult Centres that aid the commercialisation of research in areas defined as strategically important for the UK.
  • An extension of the Research Partnership Investment Fund to 2016-17, making available at least £100 million per year of match funding to leverage private funding for scientific infrastructure.
  • Investment in scientific facilities, including The Francis Crick Institute and Pharmavision; a large scale facility for the development of biologic medicines.
  • £150 million of capital investment in 2015-16 to fund health research infrastructure in the areas of dementia, genomics and imaging.
  • Investment in the ‘Eight Great’ Technologies including Synthetic Biology, Regenerative Medicine and Agricultural Technologies.

The report places heavy emphasis on the need for successful partnerships between universities, industry and charities, which is reflected in its welcome commitment to the TSB and RPIF. However there is a lack of detail on how other facilities and technologies will be supported. We hope that the Treasury will take note of the Lords Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry on scientific infrastructure, to ascertain where and how to invest resources more effectively.

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