Purpose of this statement

This statement describes the rationale and supposed objective for the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA). This doc accompanies others particularly masking the ARIA Bill. For extra data on the Bill, please see the ARIA Bill explanatory notes.


The authorities has set out an ambition to cement the UK’s place as a science superpower with a collection of latest commitments. The creation of ARIA will complement the work of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) whereas constructing on the federal government’s bold R&D Roadmap revealed in July 2020.

In November 2020, the Spending Review set out the federal government’s plan to speculate £14.6 billion in R&D in 2021 to 2022, constructing in the direction of the federal government’s goal of two.4% of GDP being spent on R&D throughout the UK financial system by 2027, the present OECD common. Achieving this ambition will drive long-term financial development, assist the UK’s place as a worldwide pressure in science and innovation, and create wider advantages for society.

There is substantial proof that funding in R&D will increase productiveness and that the spill over advantages from each public and non-public funding in R&D are vital. To retain and prolong the UK’s place of power in science, motion must be taken on a number of fronts.

We want to take care of the standard of our wonderful analysis base, while making certain that this excellence is seen broadly throughout the entire of the UK.

We additionally want to make sure that we are able to join pure analysis with new innovations and industrial merchandise successfully, making certain good concepts may be nurtured to create world-leading UK firms. This authorities is taking a multi-faceted strategic strategy, planning, and taking a look at how we are able to use modern strategies of funding to create industries of the longer term, and stay on the centre of world scientific collaboration. This policy is one among many focused at this overarching goal.

The UK’s coronavirus response, for example our Vaccines Taskforce and Rapid Response Funds, have illustrated the significance of agility in funding and decision-making. This policy is one among many throughout the panorama of public science funding which is able to study classes from these successes.

The March 2020 Budget confirmed the federal government’s dedication to an £800 million funding within the creation of a brand new analysis funding physique, primarily based on the rules of the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) now renamed DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

Since the Nineteen Fifties, ARPA / DARPA has focussed solely on transformative science and technological analysis programmes, with a lean construction and a excessive danger tolerance. This strategy has yielded exceptional outcomes. ARPA performed a significant function within the creation of ARPANET, forming the idea for the Internet. It additionally funded a precursor to the Global Positioning System (GPS), and the world’s first Weather Satellite: TIROS 1. More lately, it has been behind innovations like voice recognition expertise, as utilized in Apple’s SIRI.

There have been more moderen makes an attempt within the US to emulate DARPA’s success in different authorities departments: ARPA-E (for power), HSARPA (for homeland safety) and IARPA (for intelligence computing). Other nations have additionally created our bodies impressed by ARPA, together with Japan’s ‘Moonshot R&D’ and Germany’s SPRIN-D.

Design rules

There is way selection within the actions undertaken by our bodies below the ‘ARPA umbrella’ since 1958, and much more selection in approaches taken by these different emulating our bodies. But in depth engagement with the scientific group has helped the federal government establish a set of intrinsic options of the mannequin which we intend to include within the design of ARIA. Many of those options are already exhibited in sure components of the present UK system, however the mixture of them will likely be distinctive. These options are:

High-risk analysis focus

ARIA will solely give attention to initiatives with potential to provide transformative technological change, or a paradigm-shift in an space of science. While it’s anticipated that the majority programmes could fail in reaching their bold goals, these which succeed can have profound and constructive influence on society.

Strategic, scientific, and cultural autonomy

ARIA can have most autonomy over its analysis and venture alternative; its procedures; and its institutional tradition. Decisions on the programme portfolio will likely be set by ARIA, not ministers, and allocation of funding to analysis initiatives will likely be determined by these with related technical experience.

Investing within the judgement of proficient folks

The ARIA mannequin will give freedom and management to a small variety of the highest-calibre researchers, from public and non-public spheres. These people, filling the ‘Programme Manager’ place, will likely be empowered to dynamically channel funding, shift venture goals and milestones, and handle dangers, to maintain their total analysis programme focussed round a coherent however evolving imaginative and prescient.

Financial flexibility and operational freedom

Government is dedicated extra broadly to taking motion to deal with pointless analysis paperwork, for example, by UKRI’s ‘Reforming our Business’ programme, and inside that, the ‘Better Funding Service’ Programme. The analysis group have been clear that further layers of approvals and evaluate within the funding system, whereas effectively intentioned, can stifle the creativity and dynamism of scientists. ARIA will likely be a flagship of this agenda, minimising hurdles throughout a typical venture lifecycle to create an agile and environment friendly funding physique. ARIA will use a spread of modern approaches to funding researchers, which is prone to embody the flexibility to run prizes; take fairness stakes; and problem small grants quickly with out prolonged open competitions.

Underpinned by these broad rules, we define under some key operational element for ARIA, although we caveat that this broad intent is tempered with a want that the organisation’s impartial management are given freedom to experiment with new strategies and buildings.

Programme Manager Led Funding

The precise sub-board stage organisational construction and duties will likely be for the CEO to find out. We anticipate ARIA to run a ‘programme manager’ mannequin, sharing similarities with the strategy by which DARPA has discovered success within the US.

The Programme Manager, on this context, is a extremely distinctive function requiring visionary technical experience, management, and venture administration expertise. Programme Managers are anticipated to use to work for ARIA for a set 3–5-year tenure, because the leaders of a single multi-million-pound analysis programme designed round their very own scientific or technological imaginative and prescient. Within their overarching programme, Programme Managers will distribute funding throughout a spread of initiatives of their selecting. Individual initiatives may differ in measurement, size, scientific self-discipline, and every could also be performed by totally different establishments or collaborative teams.

Projects usually are not ‘standalone’, however moderately, should contribute to the general goals of the programme, with the Programme Manager making certain the outputs of initiatives align and cohere. So, whereas ARIA is a funding company, and not prone to be conducting a lot scientific analysis in-house, the Programme Manager will likely be anticipated to be intimately concerned within the initiatives they fund, visiting websites on a weekly or month-to-month foundation. This makes the function akin to that of a ‘product manager’ in an industrial R&D setting, who elicits and attracts collectively totally different units of technical experience in improvement of a single product.

ARIA will design its personal decision-making processes, which is able to extremely seemingly grant vital autonomy for the Programme Managers to make investments. A Programme Manager’s particular clearance preparations could or could not embody peer evaluate, this will likely be a choice of the incoming ARIA management.

ARIA will seemingly use small, fast ‘seed-grants’ to assist potential Programme Managers and their fundees to make sturdy preliminary proposals. As effectively as beginning initiatives shortly, Programme Managers may also have the means to cease initiatives shortly and re-allocate funding and useful resource to the altering calls for of a analysis endeavour. An everyday, hands-on relationship between the Programme Manager and the researchers they fund permits for this agile objective-setting.

Programme-Manager-Led Funding – a labored instance

A potential Programme Manager with a background in industrial engineering applies to ARIA with a imaginative and prescient for a flying private transport system, with potential industrial, navy, and/or dwelling safety purposes. Within weeks of her software, she is paid £50,000 to assist a extra substantive 3-month analysis proposal. This proposal is assessed, and as soon as profitable, she is employed by ARIA and given a finances of £20 million over 5 years.

With solely two approvals wanted for every determination (from her technical workplace Director and CEO), she shortly begins to fee primary and utilized analysis. She commissions new light-weight supplies analysis from main universities Glasgow, Oxford, and M.I.T; gas engineering initiatives involving blended tutorial and industrial consortia; and procures consultants to grasp the panorama of the transport market in 2050 and the place this new invention might slot in. She can begin and cease new initiatives at will as new proof emerges.

At the tip of the 5-year programme, she can have cast a group of events round an rising expertise, rooted firmly within the UK, and different devoted employees in ARIA will likely be already supporting her in fascinated with subsequent steps, for example, transferring the Intellectual Property to industrial companions; co-investing in corporations concerned within the initiatives; or spinning out new ventures.

Research focus

The main concern within the institution of ARIA is how analysis is funded, moderately than the exact space, trade, or expertise. ARIA won’t have its analysis focus set by Ministers. Like many different analysis funding businesses, ARIA won’t be tied to a single analysis focus, trade, or authorities division ‘customer’.

There are many UK publicly funded analysis our bodies and programmes with a particular subject focus set by ministers. For occasion, we’ve got UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund, investing £830 million to assist authorities priorities throughout 34 multi and inter-multidisciplinary analysis themes. We additionally fund analysis by specialist organisations just like the Faraday Institution, which is ready up solely to have a look at the way forward for battery applied sciences. For ARIA, nonetheless, we intention for a much less prescriptive strategy.

Like US DARPA, ARIA will function throughout the R&D life cycle from funding on the intersection of pure science and utilized science; in the direction of early technological improvement; and then exploring totally different avenues to industrial success. It is essential to notice that breakthroughs earlier alongside this R&D life cycle don’t correspond to solely a single ultimate industrial product. Early stage scientific and technological analysis can generate many forms of technological potentialities. So-called ‘general purpose technologies’, for example, A.I., quantum computing, and robotics; are relevant in a spread of industries, and in tackling a spread of societal issues.

DARPA pursues a spread of technological advances, however all broadly tied to the goals of the US Department of Defense. In this regard, ARIA will depart from the DARPA mannequin, however align with different ARPA-inspired our bodies world wide akin to Germany’s SPRIN-D and Japan’s Moonshot R&D. We wish to depart the door open to ARIA to forge hyperlinks with a number of authorities division prospects, unlocking new methods to deal with a spread of societal issues, and boosting UK trade in a spread of sectors.

While the organisation as a complete has an open scope, particular person programmes can have a clearly outlined scientific or technological ‘mission’. As defined above, the programmes will likely be chosen on the idea of the coherence of their imaginative and prescient, and it is going to be the Programme Manager’s whole function to convey that to fruition. We don’t intend for ARIA to fund a blended number of particular person initiatives which give no contribution to a wider programmatic intention. ARIA’s management might want to strike a steadiness in its programme portfolio between breadth and depth inside its allotted finances.

Relationship to central authorities

ARIA will likely be a public physique and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy will likely be its central authorities departmental sponsor. Noting the operational freedoms and minimal paperwork elementary to ARIA, it is going to be essential to make sure the space between the entities strikes an applicable steadiness.

R&D, and specifically transformational R&D, is an inherently dynamic, unsure, and unpredictable endeavour. Research programmes can carry out higher after they possess the means to shortly capitalise on new discoveries.

This inherent uncertainty doesn’t naturally go well with the system of presidency budgeting, controls, and venture clearance processes, which standardly apply to all programmes (R&D and in any other case). Government usually requires budgets for its giant capital initiatives and programmes to be clearly specified, goals to be rigidly set, and financial impacts forecasted and calculated, all effectively prematurely.

While such processes are sometimes prudent and generally important, for some transformational R&D initiatives, they might represent a bureaucratic burden which isn’t sufficiently outweighed by the worth or assurance they intention to supply. Thus, we’ll give ARIA operational freedom, reducing paperwork the place it’s inappropriate.

The authorities will ship some such operational freedom in laws. For occasion, it seeks to exempt ARIA from public procurement laws, permitting Programme Managers to shortly entry suppliers akin to these producing new scientific tools. Noting that ARIA will likely be a small physique with minimal administrative capability, we’ll take away the burden of processing Freedom of Information requests. This mentioned, ARIA will likely be an outward dealing with physique which is able to proactively present details about its actions to encourage coalescence round its programmatic targets.

In addition to the ARIA Bill, non-legislative processes and preparations between central authorities and ARIA will likely be stipulated in a forthcoming framework doc, to be agreed between BEIS and ARIA’s management.

While ARIA can have day-to-day operational independence, our laws takes steps to make sure the physique is topic to authorities oversight within the curiosity of nationwide safety. ARIA could spawn applied sciences of curiosity to hostile events and the Secretary of State should be given direction-making powers to halt or forestall ARIA actions which pose a risk to the UK’s nationwide pursuits. We may also be certain that ARIA has the essential infrastructure it requires to scale back cyber-attacks.

While we want to reduce inappropriate paperwork, ARIA will nonetheless be a companion organisation – it should produce accounts to be consolidated inside BEIS’, and it might want to monitor and report transparently on the funding it’s given to point out that it’s performing responsibly. ARIA will likely be required to supply a statement of accounts and an annual report on the train of its features, which will likely be laid earlier than Parliament by the Secretary of State. To guarantee sturdy scrutiny on monetary issues, ARIA may also be audited on an annual foundation by the National Audit Office. This audit will likely be a chance to make sure public scrutiny, and that employees are solely exercising their freedoms within the public curiosity, and in pursuit of ARIA’s goals.


We will quickly start the recruitment course of to search out the primary Chief Executive Officer and Chair of ARIA. Recruitment for different positions will comply with sooner or later, topic to the ARIA Bill efficiently gaining Parliamentary Approval.

In shaping the analysis, tradition, and setup of ARIA, the primary CEO can have a major impact on the technological and strategic capabilities of the UK over the course of generations. They will set up the philosophies, working kinds, and cultural norms that make ARIA efficient and distinct. They will recruit the primary cohort of Programme Managers (or equal positions), allow them to launch the primary programmes, signal the primary analysis partnerships, and assist outline the strategic benefits the programmes intention for. They will place ARIA as a particular a part of the UK’s analysis funding panorama that enhances and expands the UK’s funding functionality.

The course of for each roles will likely be performed on the idea of open and truthful competitors. We anticipate the profitable CEO candidate to be a dynamic and visionary chief with expertise in both tutorial or industrial high-risk R&D. We will complement this CEO with a Chair who has vital board expertise, a great understanding of governance points dealing with publicly funded organisations, and the flexibility to stay goal in scrutinising ARIA’s government and holding it to account on behalf of the federal government.

Innovative funding approaches

Each strategy to funding analysis creates totally different incentives amongst researchers. ARIA’s high-calibre programme managers will wield a spread of funding strategies. A measure of funding mechanism range has been integral to US ARPA’s success, however we’ll encourage ARIA to experiment maybe much more.

Below, we define some modern funding mechanisms ARIA’s Programme Managers could have at their disposal alongside conventional grant-making powers.

Inducement Prizes

An rising physique of educational and anecdotal proof suggests inducement prizes can present vital returns and galvanise the analysis communities. Competitions show in style from these not normally looking for authorities grants. This consists of firms on the lookout for status, or the massive group of ‘casual coders’ who’ve expertise and time, however little data of the administration aspect of grant purposes. The US Ansari X Prize (AXP) – a $10 million winner-takes-all ultimate product prize for constructing and launching a spacecraft – leveraged over $100 million funding, and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NGLLC), in affiliation with NASA, spurred $20 million complete funding.

Nesta’s 2018 report Funding Innovation notes that one of the best circumstances for prize challenges are when analysis goals are well-defined with clear success standards. Issues come up when challenges are vaguely specified; when challenges are set in areas already too effectively funded to the purpose of saturation; or the place there usually are not sufficient potential entrants for a correct competitors. ARIA will be aware of all these classes, however the small measurement of the UK researcher market in some disciplines makes the final level significantly pertinent. ARIA might want to think about the extent to which prizes are open to worldwide researchers, which may be a case-by-case determination.

Grant/Prize Hybrids

We would really like ARIA to contemplate how prizes may be mixed with grants to, for example, pay researchers a minimal grant or contractor wage to hold out analysis they might not in any other case afford to do up entrance, however incentivise excessive efficiency with a prize for a successful staff; or enhance a funding pot incrementally for various opponents qualifying by totally different levels of a analysis programme. These hybrid choices permit myriad totally different incentive buildings to tailor to the distinctive qualities of specific analysis markets.

Seed Grants

US ARPA our bodies differentiate themselves from typical US R&D with most flexibility on scale and time of their grants. They are inclined to problem small grants ($50,000-$1m for 3–9-month supply) as shortly as doable with minimal evaluation standards, following up on solely a small fraction of essentially the most promising seeds with additional larger-scale investments in pursuit of the bigger goals of a Programme. Seed grants are additionally used to assist potential programme managers to develop theses upon which programmes are chosen and then subsequently funded.

In talking with US counterparts, they famous how the velocity of seed grant issuance permit a brand new kind of stakeholder engagement work. Rather than stakeholder occasions merely being alternatives to promote funding software alternatives, Programme Managers are empowered to attend tutorial and expertise conferences; community and establish expertise; and make a provisional funding supply in the course of the convention, incentivising a researcher to speculate time in a thesis of a lot larger high quality than a normal funding software doc.

Taking Equity Stakes

The ARIA Bill offers ARIA the potential to take fairness stakes in firms, for example, start-up ventures for growing and exploiting scientific analysis. Through the forthcoming framework doc, we’ll specify the parameters for most of these actions.

Attracting Private Co-financing

Garnering non-public sector finance to assist specific ARIA programmes would convey better funding totals, a decrease monetary publicity, and can create a transparent pathway for commercialisation of expertise. Firms may also have vital market experience which will likely be essential for ARIA to attract upon. ARIA would should be cautious solely to co-finance programmes the place the non-public companion wouldn’t in any other case fund the same exercise utterly themselves, thus keep away from displacing and ‘crowding out’ different non-public funding. Again, by the forthcoming framework doc, we’ll specify the parameters for most of these actions.

Academic and Entrepreneurial Fellowships

ARIA could supply fellowships for proficient early and mid-career people with a particular emphasis on working with Programme Managers to discover routes to commercialisation of ARIA analysis and expertise within the UK.

We will be certain that ARIA paperwork and publishes what’s working effectively and not so effectively when experimenting with funding strategies. Even perceived failures on this regard could serve a vastly beneficial public profit, as classes are shared with the broader UK analysis group.

Relationship with UKRI

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is the umbrella physique for UK public funded analysis, masking the seven analysis councils, Research England, and Innovate UK. It funds c.£8 billion of analysis, innovation, expertise, infrastructure, and partnerships per 12 months. UKRI is the muse of public R&D within the UK, supporting 54,006 researchers and innovators throughout 3,942 universities, companies, and different organisations.

A key consideration within the improvement of ARIA has been whether or not it must be established inside or outdoors UKRI. UKRI holds vital experience, the economies of scale of an present giant organisation, and an avenue for coordinating spending with their different programmes.

However, ARIA is meant to fund science in new and modern methods past these permitted by UKRI’s governance preparations. As famous above, ARIA will profit from a light-touch strategy to venture clearances for it to have the ability to function with autonomy from central authorities and at velocity, which requires a particular and distinctive set of allocation and finance preparations. ARIA will likely be a small organisation, with a flat construction and a definite cultural id.

We will set up ARIA as an impartial physique, outdoors UKRI, however guarantee, by a number of open communication channels, that ARIA will likely be a complementary a part of the UK R&D panorama.

The potential of ARIA to spend money on excessive danger and novel funding approaches has the potential to enhance the work of UKRI. A powerful partnership between the 2 businesses will guarantee, the UK can profit from the distinctive function of each organisations within the funding panorama and allow UKRI to fulfil its key function because the steward of a vibrant and inclusive analysis and innovation system that maximises the advantages of investing in R&I for the entire nation. We will be certain that specific consideration is given to ARIA’s relationship with Innovate UK, contemplating the important thing function Innovate UK performs in investing public funding to assist companies scale-up and commercialise expertise.


ARIA will likely be a small organisation with few staff and its headquarters will occupy a really small bodily footprint. ARIA will likely be anticipated to fund people, institutes, universities, and companies throughout the UK. The advantages of ARIA’s funding will thus not be restricted to a single location.

No determination has been taken on the preliminary location of any workplace(s) for the brand new company.


When it involves discovering the easiest way to fund R&D, it’s clear and maybe inevitable, that the world remains to be experimenting. That mentioned, we’ve got discovered from historic successes and failures within the UK and world wide that sure organisational traits lend themselves effectively to high-risk, high-reward analysis.

This authorities believes our proposals for an Advanced Research and Invention Agency meaningfully diversify the present public R&D portfolio in a method which is able to place the UK on the epicentre of a brand new technology of transformational applied sciences.

Alongside the multitude of science and R&D spending this authorities is enterprise, ARIA will likely be key to establishing a aggressive benefit for the UK as a worldwide science superpower, creating significant jobs and financial development for generations to return.


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