In a speech at the UK Policy Exchange, Mr Willetts described how the £600 million provision for science announced in the government’s Autumn Statement will be used to boost growth in ‘eight great technologies’ which includes money for the energy sector. £189 million will go towards big data and energy efficient computing. Another £45 million will help to fund advanced materials research including low energy electronics. New R&D facilities will receive £30 million in order to help development in new grid-scale storage technologies thereby helping to improve renewable energy capacity and reduce the UK’s national carbon footprint. £50 million will also go towards vital upgrades to research equipment and laboratories.
The Minister said that the government now needs to capitalise on the unique strengths of the UK’s research base by backing the right technologies and helping to take them through to market.
“Strong science and flexible markets is a good combination of policies” Mr Willetts said, “but it is not enough. It misses out crucial stuff in the middle – real decisions on backing key technologies on their journey from the lab to the marketplace. It is the missing third pillar to any successful high tech strategy. It is R&D and technology and engineering as distinct from pure science. It is our historic failure to back this which lies behind the familiar problems of the so-called “valley of death” between scientific discoveries and commercial applications.”
Mr Willetts has also authored a special pamphlet on the Eight Great Technologies which is published by the Policy Exchange.
Department for Business, Innovation & Skills