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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor