In the Autumn 2012 Statement David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, announced that “eight great technologies” have been outlined to receive a share of a £600 million investment for science.
Big data and energy efficient computing have attracted the largest share (£189 million) of the total investment, with a further £30 million being set aside for research and development facilities focusing on new grid scale storage technologies.
It was also announced that £45 million would be invested into new facilities and equipment for advanced materials research into areas such as low-energy electronics and telecommunications resources, advanced composites and high-performance alloys.
The remainder of the £600 million investment has been set aside for universities, space research, innovation centres, science parks and enterprise sites, as well as upgrades to research equipment and laboratories.
This additional funding builds on the Government’s previous decisions to increase capital investment in science and innovation made at fiscal events since Spending Review 2010 totalling £925 million.
The announcement of a further £600 million investment into science and technology comes shortly after the decision in October 2012 to invest £200 million into the UK Research Partnership Infrastructure Fund for the enhancement of facilities for world-class university research in order to enhance long-term economic growth.
These increased levels of funding appear to indicate that the Government is anxious to ensure that the UK has the facilities to maintain and develop its world-class research base.
The £600 million investment can therefore be seen as a technique by the Government of building upon its previous commitments to support the development of innovative technologies.
The Autumn Statement echoed elements of the speech of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on 9 November 2012, who stated that “the next generation of scientific discovery will be data-driven discovery, as previously unrecognised patterns are discovered by analysing massive data sets.”
It is believed that investment in these technologies will not only propel the UK to future growth and help it maintain its competitive advantage but investment into energy-efficient computing and storage technologies will yield savings on UK energy spend, help the UK reduce its carbon footprint and further economic growth.