Putting the UK at cutting edge of science

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THE Chancellor said Britain must “push the boundaries” of scientific endeavour to maintain its pioneering status and help businesses to compete on a global stage.

George Osborne said science is “a personal priority” as he outlined plans to make the most of the UK’s science base and help Britain take the lead in creating cutting-edge technologies.

UK universities produce world-class research, but are failing to commercialise new discoveries.

Sir Andrew Witty has called for a new era of collaboration between academia and business to help Britain keep up in the global economy.

Yesterday’s Autumn Statement announced plans for a £270m network of quantum technology centres to take advantage of a new field of nano-scale engineering.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills said it was too early to say where these centres will be located, but universities are expected to compete for the funding.

The Government will also support the development of driverless cars through a review of regulation and create a £10m prize fund for a town or city to develop a testing ground.

It will invest £5m in a large-scale electric vehicle programme in the public sector to promote the widespread adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles.

The Government will also introduce a new £80m global collaborative space programme as an “international pillar” to the UK’s national space policy.

This will help UK companies and scientists to build stronger links with emerging powers in developing space capabilities and technology.

There was good news for Scotland with the announcement that the Government will provide £11m for the creation of the Higgs centre at Edinburgh University, named after particle scientist Peter Higgs, to support high-tech business start-ups.

The Autumn Statement said ministers will produce a UK science and innovation strategy for this time next year.