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UK Government announces the creation of ARIA, the High Risk, High Reward Research Agency

The Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA), will be a new independent research body to fund potentially transformational scientific research

The Government has launched the Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA). ARIA will be headed by leading scientists and innovators with the remit of engaging in high risk and high reward transformational research, adding a new capability to the UK’s innovation architecture.

Backed by an £800 million investment from the UK Government the new agency will be independent of Government and led by some of the world’s most visionary researchers empowered to use their knowledge and expertise to identify and back ambitious, research and technology challenges.

ARIA will be based on international examples such as the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) model. ARPA was instrumental in the development of transformational technologies such as the internet and GPS. More recently, ARPA’s successor, DARPA, was a vital pre-pandemic funder of mRNA vaccines and antibody therapies.

ARIA presents an extraordinary opportunity for the UK to lead in transformational research. techUK has long been supportive of the concept, urging the Government to prioritise people, size and culture in order to ensure that the agency is driven by the right minds, is agile and able to accept risks.

ARIA must also be built to command broad support around its objectives. As an agency which must tolerate failure in order to achieve success, we must ensure that there is buy in to the agencies aims so as to prevent risk from being managed out over time. The examples of ARPA and DARPA have shown that the long term pay offs of this kind of high risk, high reward research pay off significantly in the long term with huge potential benefits for the UK’s scientific and technology capabilities.

techUK CEO Julian David said:

“techUK welcomes the creation of ARIA. This is an exciting announcement signalling a systemic shift in the way scientific research and technology development is conducted in the U.K. The success of this high risk, high reward body could redefine entire industries, find answers to global challenges, and act as a beacon to attract global tech innovators. 

As ARIA moves from concept to reality techUK urges government to work closely with industry to get this crucial next step right. Particularly in three key areas; people, size and culture.

ARIA must have steady access to the best and brightest minds but also skilled project managers if this new approach is to work. As a body it should remain small, agile and focused as well as being given the room to take risks and build a culture based on a higher tolerance of failure. Ensuring ARIA remains separate from existing research bodies is therefore vital.”

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