Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne with the red budget box.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne with the red budget box.

Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

U.K. budget includes new money for innovation

One of the old traditions when the annual government budget is released in the United Kingdom is for the chancellor of the exchequer to carry his speech to the House of Commons in a red briefcase. This year’s budget, announced yesterday, contained few surprises for researchers—the core science budget is planned over 5 years—but did yield more than £240 million of additional funding and some details about previously announced commitments.

“It is great to see the chancellor putting additional money into innovation and recognizing the value of science,” says Naomi Weir, acting director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), an advocacy group in the United Kingdom, which remains concerned about the effects of inflation on the flat budget for core funding.

 The new money will be spent mostly on technology-related research, according to a statement from CaSE. Specifically:

  • £100 million for R&D on driverless car technology

  • £60 million for a new “Energy Research Accelerator”

  • £40 million for R&D on the Internet of Things

  • £20 million for analysis of health data

  • £12 million for a new Centre for Agricultural Informatics and Sustainability Metrics

  • £11 million for technology incubators in Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield

The 2015 budget also spells out how £538 million of previously announced funds will be spent. Of this, $400 million is intended for competitive awards for scientific infrastructure in 2020 and 2021. The remaining £138 million goes to research hubs on infrastructure and cities.