You're on, Professor Brian Cox: George Osborne pledges to make Britain world leader in science

 

The Chancellor George Osborne said that he is up to the challenge of astronomer Brian Cox to make Britain the best place in the world to do science as he promised to make scientific innovation central to the country’s industrial strategy.

Making his first speech to the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, Mr Osborne announced future Government support for eight areas of technology where Britain could lead the world.

One of the eight subjects, space and satellite technology, will receive an additional £60m a year – a total of £240m a year for the next five years – subject to negotiations with the European Space Agency, Mr Osborne announced.

Another area, synthetic biology which aims to design, engineer or replicate biological systems for industrial use, for instance by creating new forms of microbes that can eat industrial waste, will receive a research boost of £20m, he said.

However, the Chancellor refused to be drawn on whether he agrees with Professor Cox who has argued for a doubling of the £4.6bn science budget by using the money that the Government will raise from the auction of the 4G mobile phone spectrum to spend on scientific research.

“We don’t know how much we will get from the sale. It looks like the auction is on for next year, and we will then make the decision on how to spend the money,” Mr Osborne said.

The Campaign for Science and Engineering, which has organised a petition in support of reinvesting the 4G spectrum money in science, said that the Chancellor is saying the right things but this needs to be reflected in his future decisions.

“The forthcoming auction of the 4G spectrum will be a good test. That £4bn-ish revenues are a return on past investment in science and technology, and should be reinvested,” said Imran Khan, the director of the campaign.

In addition to Professor Cox, the 4G petition has been signed by the Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, a former president of the Royal Society, and Nobel scientist Professor Andrei Geim – both of whom were praised by Mr Osborne.

In his speech to the Royal Society, Mr Osborne said that he recognises the economic benefits of scientific excellence which is one of the reasons why the Government, with advice from the scientific community, has earmarked eight future technologies where the UK could be world-leading.

The list includes regenerative medicine, agricultural science, energy storage, advanced materials and robots. Britain already excels in all of these areas but with extra direction and support from Government, the country could outperform other countries, Mr Osborne said.

“It is not the government who creates the scientific innovation, or translates into growth. But we can back those who do. And as a government and as a scientific community we need to be willing to identify Britain’s strengths and reinforce them,” Mr Osborne said.

Sir Paul Nurse, the current President of the Royal Society and a Nobel Laureate, said that he was delighted that the Chancellor appeared to recognise the role of science in driving a dynamic economy.

“What is really important is that the Government and the Treasury are coming publicly to state that science is becoming more central to the Treasury’s thinking,” Sir Paul said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links