ARIA: Failure to launch

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Expert Opinion
April 19, 2023

While respondents urge for funding from Horizon to be replaced, questions have also arisen about the centrepiece of the UK’s own funding programme – the Advanced Research and Invention Agency, or ARIA.

ARIA was launched in February 2021 with the ambition of funding high-risk, high-reward science and innovation across the UK with minimal bureaucracy. But progress has been slow. It took 12 months to name a Chief Executive to lead the formation of the agency, who then withdrew from the post before starting. Four months later, a new Chief Executive and Chairman were named, and plans are now progressing for ARIA to begin its important work.

Respondents to Ayming’s inaugural UK Innovation Barometer are eager to see the formal launch of ARIA and believe this to be an important step for the Government to support new innovation in the UK.

Over a quarter deem its formal launch to be of moderate importance, 48 per cent believe it to be very important, and one-in-five consider it to be absolutely critical. Overwhelming support for the formalisation of the agency underscores the urgent need for its services.

Aria’s lethargic pace has been deflating

Smith notes, “Across the UK’s R&D sector, the creation of ARIA was met with widespread positivity, but its lethargic pace has been deflating, so it’s no surprise to see that 95 per cent of respondents regard its formal launch as important. Firms are looking for new avenues to support the Government’s ambitions to increase funding to the sector, and one of ARIA’s primary purposes was to provide a system that could allocate it quickly.”

The sectors particularly calling for its formalisation are the pharma and financial services industries, where 79 per cent of respondents in each sector see it as being a very important part of how the Government can support new UK innovation.

Whereas by contrast, in the food and beverage sector this percentage drops to just over half. The sector disparity is likely representative of the opportunities each industry is expecting to garner from the formalisation of the agency, which is greater within the pharma and financial services sectors due to the nature of the R&D they carry out.

With the UK’s status as a Science Superpower a major objective for this Government, the prompt formalisation of ARIA should be a priority.

To discover the insights in full, click the button to download Ayming’s UK Innovation Barometer.


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