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UK’s New Blue Sky Science Institution Granted Enormous Freedom to Take Risk-POLITICO

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London UK’s new blue sky research and innovation agency will be given tremendous freedom to fund unusual and high-risk projects without being constrained by critical goals set by the Minister.

The agency has been named ARIA (Advanced Research and Invention Agency) and has tested a financing model with a budget of $800 million over five years, allowing taxpayers to cash in a novel, controversial or repulsive manner without seeking government approval. One person is familiar with the plan, says one who would have the freedom to spend it.

It is a key component of the Global Prime Minister’s plan, led by Dominic Cummings, former Senior Aide Johnson, who left Downing Street in December 2020. Originally scheduled for release last summer, it was delayed due to the coronavirus crisis. Among other reasons. Ministers are expected to make plans for the agency on Thursday.

However, the ministers have decided not to subsidize ARIA based on a predetermined mission or a big challenge. This is a funding model proposed by economist Mariana Mazzucato, director of the University College London Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, which is at the heart of the EU’s R&D framework program Horizon Europe, followed by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. . (DARPA).

We’re not going to prescribe how it works or that it focuses on breaking the point, the official said.

In the Conservative’s 2019 election declaration, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to create a new scientific funding body to support projects that could fund high-risk, high-reward research that could not otherwise be pursued and strengthen UK leadership in artificial intelligence and data. . .

Ministers will leave a mission-based funding approach to UK research and innovation, an existing funding agency, and will provide ARIA with a legitimate remittance that will allow them to take risks and pursue very unusual projects, officials said. The agency added that it would not judge the success of an individual project or program. It is also exempt from rules designed to prevent taxpayers from wasting money on projects with little chance of success.

This decision violates the core recommendations of the House Science and Technology Committee. In a report last week, the agency said it should focus on mission-based or challenge-driven research that aligns with the country’s long-term goals. It provides innovative change that affects the economy and the wider society.

The funding agency will be set up through primary legislation as a quango reporting to the Business, Energy and Innovation Department (BEIS), despite the fact that Mazzucato and others have asked to place it in the Cabinet Office to promote inter-departmental innovation. The government has allocated 800 million over five years, with 50 million expenditures between 2021 and 22, and the rest will be profiled for the rest of the parliament.

BEIS will start hiring CEO and Chairman soon. Officials said the government will find someone who understands the culture that drives high-risk innovation institutions to success, ideally vision scientists, who can ruthlessly take risks to lead the institution. International experience will also be a plus.

The government has not yet chosen the location of the institution’s headquarters, but it has received many proposals, but still many as some congressmen have asked ARIA to be located in the outskirts of London and in the southeastern United Kingdom, which is considered the core of British research excellence and a magnet. . R&D funding.

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