The Chancellor, Phillip Hammond MO has announced further investment in STEM as part of his budget announcement.
Almost £4.7bn from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) – £23bn will be made available from 2017/18 to 2012/22 – will be made available for research and development to support collaborations between the UK’s science base and businesses.
The Chancellor decided that nearly £100m will go towards funding 1,000 STEM PhD places, with double that amount supporting new fellowships for researchers.
New ‘T-levels”, which aim towards improving how technical education is delivered will be introduced for 16 to 19 year olds in autumn 2019, with a huge investment of over £500m, allowing students to choose from around 15 different courses.
An extra £270m is also expected from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) for collaborations between business and science. This will go towards a number of challenges, such as:
– Developing AI and robotic systems that can still operate in extreme environments
– Developing and manufacturing batters that power electric vehicles
– Quickening patient access to new drugs and treatments
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Executive director at the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), Dr Sarah Main, had this to say: “This is good news for science, but it will be important to see that the plans are done well. Government must work in consort to enable these plans to really fly.
“Complementing investments in R&D with a focus on technical skills and PhD level training is a welcome move. Science and engineering organisations have been highlighting shortages in technically skilled staff for many years. The Government’s reforms of technical education provide a ray of hope for our scientific companies, so it will be important to ensure the reforms are sufficiently resourced, seen to completion, and aligned with the industrial strategy in order to deliver on that hope.”
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