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Scientists welcome 600m boost

A 600 million boost for science announced in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement will be used to develop cutting-edge technologies with the potential to create wealth.

Spread over three years, the extra cash will help pay for facilities and equipment in areas such as advanced materials, synthetic biology, big data computing and energy storage.

It is the biggest single new research spending commitment since the coalition Government came into power.

The announcement was warmly welcomed by Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE). He said: "We were hoping that the Chancellor would continue his trend of supporting science and engineering, and are really delighted with this new commitment - the total amount of new funding since 2010 has now reached almost 2 billion.

"Osborne's consistency shows that he understands the UK must invest in becoming a hi-tech nation. In the coming decades we won't be able to compete internationally on natural resources or cheap labour, so the Government's plan to build British excellence in areas like synthetic biology and energy-efficient computing instead is absolutely critical.

"We applaud the Chancellor for supporting not only fundamental research but also making science a bigger part of the UK's industrial strategy."

The boost to Research Council infrastructure is aimed at capital investment which is used to pay for facilities rather than running costs.

In the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review, annual funding for science and research was ring-fenced at 4.6 billion. However, this did not cover capital expenditure, attracting criticism from the science community.

Since then the Government has poured an additional 1.515 billion into the capital side of science.

Science minister David Willetts said: "Science and innovation are fundamental to our economy and this 600 million takes the total capital investment announced since the Comprehensive Spending Review to over 1.5 billion. It will support hi-tech areas where the UK's research base and industry can gain a competitive advantage, like big data and energy efficient computing, synthetic biology and advanced materials. This will drive growth, create the jobs of the future and help us get ahead in the global race."

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