In a speech today at the Royal Society, Britain’s chief financial minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, announced that the government would increase spending on space by £60 million per year, a boost of about 30%. The funding hike comes just days before European ministers responsible for space gather in Naples, Italy, to decide the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) budget and spending priorities for the next 4 years. The extra U.K. spending should allow British officials to commit to ESA programs more generously, which the government hopes will lead to more ESA contracts for British industry.
In a wide-ranging speech on science and technology, the chancellor listed eight fields in which British researchers could lead the world. These included synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, energy storage, and advanced materials. He announced several new funding streams, such as £20 million to help researchers develop low-carbon fuel or industrial raw materials, for example, using synthetic biology, and £22 million for graphene engineering.
"It is encouraging to hear the Chancellor talk about the importance of science with such enthusiasm. It is particularly gratifying that he acknowledges the parallel importance of curiosity-led and applied research, and the need for continued investment in science even in times of fiscal restraint. Maintaining a world class infrastructure will be essential to delivering the Chancellor's vision,” Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said in a statement.