Minister defends research funding squeeze

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Science Minister David Willetts defended the Government's planned squeeze on research funding today, saying a stronger link between academics and business could result.

He was speaking after Business Secretary Vince Cable yesterday announced that ministers planned to strip "mediocrity" out of science and research projects, which currently attract £6 billion a year of Government backing.

"We do want to see out of this a stronger and better link between theoretical research and business," Mr Willetts told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"What we want to achieve at the end of this is a system where excellent research then makes the transition through into application.

"We are not going to stop funding all the research that goes on at the moment. We face the problem that we have public spending running way ahead of what we can afford, so there do have to be some reductions."

He added: "We need to be better at applying our research to practical, commercial purposes. That's not always a matter of spending money."

Former chief executive of the British Medical Research Council Professor Colin Blakemore questioned how the Government could filter out mediocre research.

"Some of it doesn't produce the results that were expected. That is the nature of research. Sometimes it doesn't work," he told the programme.