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Gloucestershire Business News

UK science agency can help drive discoveries

The creation of a scientific research agency in the UK has been welcomed by the founder of a Gloucestershire advanced engineering company.

The Advanced Research & Invention Agency, announced today by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, is designed to cement the UK's position as a global science superpower.

It will fund high-risk research which offers the chance of high rewards and groundbreaking discoveries.

Modelled on the Advanced Research Projects Agency in the US, which backed research which led to the internet and GPS, the agency will be backed by £800million and is due to be fully operational next year.

Neill Ricketts, chief executive of Staverton-based graphene materials experts Versarien, said: "I think this is fantastic news for the UK and small businesses in the technology sector like ourselves.

"They've been talking about this for a while and what they want to do is to create sovereign capability in these advanced materials and other high-technology strategies or sectors.

"What they are doing is taking a leaf out of the American book and creating an agency that can push these technologies."

He continued: "There's no guarantees it will help Versarien but we are obviously in the right area.

"We have picked up a lot of government support over the last 12 months and this is just an extension of that so we'll be doing our best to make maximum use of it and support it the best we can."

In November, the Government set out plans to invest £14.6 billion on R&D in 2021-22.

Mr Kwarteng said: "From the steam engine to the latest artificial intelligence technologies, the UK is steeped in scientific discovery.

"Today's set of challenges - whether disease outbreaks or climate change - need bold, ambitious and innovative solutions.

"By stripping back unnecessary red tape and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency will be given the freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow, as we continue to build back better through innovation."

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