In DepthFunding

A research behemoth is born in Britain

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Science  23 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6382, pp. 1319
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6382.1319

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Summary

The United Kingdom has completed a major reorganization of public research funding that brings under one umbrella all the research councils that support U.K. science. The intent is to provide a strategic vision and voice for science, boost efficiency, foster interdisciplinary research, and kick-start an economy jeopardized by Brexit. The new organization, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), officially opens 1 April. It is headed by Mark Walport, who has led the Wellcome Trust and served as government chief science adviser. One big question is the extent to which UKRI leadership can help bring about a science-friendly outcome for Brexit negotiations, preserving collaborations and funding from Europe. Also unclear is how much autonomy the research councils will keep and whether UKRI will increase the emphasis on biomedical research and the research-intensive southeast. The government has allocated most of £4.7 billion of new science funding to UKRI, ramping up over 4 years, as part of a new industrial strategy.