The UK has officially its ARIA science research agency with five new board members, heavily weighted towards the life sciences.
This comes as the UK government is reported to have received a draft of the semiconductor strategy that has been in preparation for several years. This is also important as political issues have kept UK researchers and companies out of new projects in the EU’s Horizon research programme.
The agency, modelled on DARPA in the US, aims to create ‘transformational. research programmes through a budget originally intended to be £800m. The agency has been designed with a unique level of freedom which puts trust in the decisions of experts in their field.
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Joining the government Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, are Professor Sir David MacMillan, a Nobel Prize winning organic chemist and the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University and Dame Kate Bingham (DBE), Managing Partner at SV Health Investors and former Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce
They are joined by Stephen Cohen, a UK Civil Service Commissioner and a Commissioner for the Gambling Commission, who has over 40 years’ experience in asset management, in Asia, Europe and the USA and Sarah Hunter, a public policy expert who has worked across Silicon Valley and London, who is the Global Director of Public Policy at X, the Moonshot Factory.
Also appointed as an Executive Director is Antonia Jenkinson, who takes up post as Chief Financial and Operations Officer. Antonia joins from the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), where she was Chief Financial Officer.
The UK government has been at pains to point out that ARIA does not compete with the existing science and technology research programmes in UKRI (UK Research and Innovation, which funds university research), pointing to the current R&D budget of £39.8 billion.
“As the global race for science and technology leadership heats up, we are committed to going further to cement our position as a Science Superpower: which is why we have committed to a record £39.8 billion public R&D budget in the Spending Review, alongside the creation of ARIA,” said UK Science Minister George Freeman.
“Transformational discoveries come from world class scientists and labs with the freedom to explore the unknown. We have set up ARIA as an £800 million global super lab to do just that through frontier science and technology.”
“I could not imagine a better board of directors to oversee ARIA’s formation. Guided by their experience and judgement, ARIA will make bold bets that leverage the strengths of the UK research system to drive world-changing breakthroughs,” said ARIA CEO Dr. Ilan Gur.
ARIA was legally established yesterday on 25th January following a commencement order made in Parliament.